There's just something about hair. We write stories about it, sing songs about it, covet it or lament the lack of it.
Hair has magical powers in Disney's cartoon film "Tangled." It signifies the ultimate sacrifice for love in "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. We study it in English with F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." We cut it for fundraisers and tie little bangles into it at girls' camp. We even say things like "get out of my hair" and "let your hair down."
Clearly, hair is more than strands of dead cells that we brush into artistic styles. Hair is a symbol of culture, and what we choose to do with our hair defines a piece of who we are.
How does your hair define you? What does it say about your personality?
Emily Neal, a recent graduate of Ogden High, said that hair "is symbolic of people you are around and the things you participate in. The way you wear your hair shows your willingness to fit in with different groups of people."
Neal's hair is currently cropped above her ears and dyed a deep red, although she's experimented with a variety of lengths and colors. She's even had feathers and beads woven into her locks.
"I think hair is part of our identity," said Nathaniel Corry, an Electronic High School junior. "It's one of the first things people see and what we see in the mirror."
To cut or not cut?
Some people frequently change their hair, while others are a bit more sentimental about it. What does a change in hairstyle signify?
"I think that depending on the person, past experiences will determine whether people are sentimental or not. People who hold on to a lot of things will be sentimental about it but people like me like to change things up," said Neal. "It makes life interesting. I like to embrace that ability to change things about my hair."
At Ogden High's graduation party a hairstylist was available to cut hair for free.
"Friends told me I had to do something crazy," John Richardson, a recent graduate who attended the party, said. "I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was feeling pressured to do something crazy but I didn't want to do something stupid."
In the end, Richardson just sat down and told the stylist to do whatever she liked; "I wanted to let her make the decision for me."
He ended up going from hair longer on the sides and in front to a cut that was clipped close on the sides and gathered to a slight fohawk on top.
So what did he think? "I was a little bit shocked by it," he said, "because it hasn't been my style but I've grown to accept it. I like it. I've got mostly positive feedback on it, so I approve."
Sometimes we perceive people differently after they have changed their hair, but does it really change their personality?
"Working in a hair salon, there are a lot of ladies who come in and get their hair cut and leave feeling absolutely beautiful," Richardson said "But with me I got a drastic change and I feel almost exactly the same."
Neal agrees. "It improves confidence. Whenever I get a new haircut it's always fun to show off the new hairdo. But other than that it doesn't change me much personalitywise."
Richardson says that he used to look at others who had their hair done and think they had changed, but now that he's done it himself he's realized they haven't.
"Actually, at one point, my dad was telling some story of when I had done something he didn't approve of. He said 'Ever since he got this haircut he feels like he can be a little rebel or something,' but he was only teasing."
So after a haircut, though we may only feel a boost of confidence and feel the same as we did before, others may look at us in a slightly different way. Is this because of stereotypes?
Seeing a girl with two pigtail braids makes Richardson, for instance, think of Pippi Longstocking, a character who is known for her mischievous independence, while Neal thought of someone who is crafty and calm. Although these are completely different interpretations, it is clear that the people we meet in the past may change our perception of different hairstyles.
"Yes, people are stereotyped by their hair. You have everything from emo to preppy to girly all based on your hair," said Brooke Russell, who will be a junior at Fremont High.
Amber Larsen, also a junior at Fremont High, said, "The people who usually have straightened blond or brown dyed hair are usually assumed to be popular. Those who do nothing with their hair and just leave it how it is are usually assumed to be not as popular."
Alexandra Burton is a recent graduate of Ogden High School. You will find her running, reading, writing or playing the violin. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT'S YOUR 'DO?
Are you a hot-tempered redhead or a studious brunette?
A bit of research online and in interviews with teenagers reveals that certain hairstyles and colors do tend to lead people to conclusions regarding personality. Where do you fit in? Do you agree with any of these common stereotypes related to hair color or styles?
Blonde: If you are not a natural blond, your hair is seen as high maintenance and therefore can lead people to the conclusion that you are vain. Blondes tend to attract a lot of attention, and it is a common phrase that "blondes have more fun." Blondes are known to be attractive, popular and flirty. And of course, there are lots of jokes about the "dumb blond."
Black: The majority of the world's population has either deep brown or black hair. People with black hair are seen as exotic, sultry, tough and mysterious.
Brunette: Those with brown hair are often seen as the good girl/boy. Brown-haired individuals are likely assumed to be responsible, deep, down to earth, witty and professional. Brown hair reflects a more natural look, or that you're not trying too hard.
Red: Only 3 percent of the population has red hair, but redheads are seen for a variety of attributes. Redheads are known to be feisty, hyper, opinionated, hotheaded and wild. They are also seen as either highly attractive or exceedingly homely.
Other hues: Those who dye their hair unnatural colors -- purple, green, blue -- may be seen as trendy, unique, rebellious, daring, unprofessional, or as people who want or need attention.
Long hair: For girls, well-kept long hair reflects confidence and femininity. It is seen as pretty and flirty. Unkempt long hair can reflect shyness, insecurity and laziness. For guys, long hair can be seen as rebellious or nonconformist.
Medium hair: For girls, medium hair says classy, strong and powerful. For guys, rebellious, trendy, stubborn and boyish.
Short hair: For girls and guys, short hair signifies intelligence, honesty and sophistication. For girls it is seen as trendy, mature and independent.
Straight hair: Polished and professional.
Wavy/curly hair: Playful, warm, carefree, flirtatious, young.