Why Do We Love Male Musicians With Dyed Hair?
“The bright side of the moon and the dark side of the moon” is how Debbie Harry described the double tones of her hair, bleached blonde all over, with her God-given amber underneath. In dyeing our hair unnatural tints, we’re susceptible to metaphors of nature. We mimic or fantasize—rainbow hair, mermaid tresses—and find new delight in colors. For hair the shade of a warm salt sea, a section of grapefruit, the color of wisteria, we’ll do it: We’ll bear the cost, push against the outer limit of our salon chair stamina, go through the dyeing, the re-dyeing, the bleach scabs, the dilemma of roots, etc. According to myth, the platinum habit of silver screen starlet Jean Harlow contributed to her untimely death at the age of 26, but this tale has done nothing to discourage us. Give up a holy chance to remake ourselves? Give us the Manic Panic, please.
Remaking ourselves is typically the motive, or the assumed motive. Out with the old, dull hair color and the old, dull person we used to be, in with new shininess in all areas of our life. Kanye went sherbet for 2017, after a tumultuous winter featuring intensive touring, Kim’s traumatic robbery, political controversy, and then some. He dyed his hair blond, and, two weeks later, it had gone blond and pink. Some speculated that he’d done it out of allegiance to Frank Ocean’s Blonde, as an insistence on the album’s Grammy-worthiness. Blonde itself was a watershed in 2016’s pageant of neon heads. On its cover is Ocean, bandaged hand pressed on his brow, his hair dyed a lush green. Above him is the word Blond—but we know already that the album is titled Blonde. Ocean’s colored hair denies both options and sits somewhere in between this masculine and feminine designation, like pale hair turned green from a chlorinated pool.
Why do we pay so much attention when a male celeb-musician radically dyes his hair? Possibly, simply, because it’s relatively rare. Outside of the purveyors of colorful hair’s punkish origins, the index of male musicians with unnaturally bright hair is brief compared to that of women musicians. Even David Bowie and Kurt Cobain hovered just at the perimeter of natural shades with their rich, punchy reds. We could almost forget that a lot of men, as per usual, have it easier. After all, the shorter the crop, the smaller the commitment: Color can grow out in a month or two; it can be tried on and cast aside like a hat. So in 2016, Justin Bieber tried on many hats, beginning with lilac, shifting to platinum, making a lamentable midyear misstep, and thankfully reverting to a swooshier blond ‘do. And since shedding One Direction, Zayn Malik has endlessly experimented with his hair, splashing in the singular freedom of celery green, silver, bleach blond, and singeing his tips a bubblegum tint early last year. Of course, rappers like Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert lead the trend with signature candy-colored hair that begets copycats on the runways. As the Men’s NYFW lets more women walk in shows and begins to veer more confidently into androgynous and feminine designs (see Palomo Spain’s immoderately fanciful most recent collection), male models’ heads grow ever more vivid. At Rochambeau and Landlord, you could tally the white blond, magenta, lime, red-and-green-and-yellow tones.So, Kanye’s sherbet hair. Maybe he just wants to feel liberated. He’s paired his pastel look with a new, more reticent approach to public life: He’s avoided Instagram and made only a few, fairly impersonal posts on Twitter. What expressiveness he has on reserve we can see in his hair, and we can be assured that he’s still the old Kanye.
Featured image via Colin Kerrigan; other images via Buzzfeed and Instagram
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