Monday, May 23, 2011

Cutting Hair as a Sign of Grief

Shortly after September 11, 2001, The New York Times reported that many American women were cutting off their hair in response to the terrorist attacks.

In her Nov. 20, 2001 column, writer Gina Bellafante reported, “While the post-Sept. 11 world does not seem to be prompting American men to experiment with drastic changes in appearance, it is moving women to greet their hairdressers with the words, 'Take it all off.'”

Although Bellafante contended that many women just wanted a new look, she said that others cut off their long hair as a sign of shock and sadness at the immense loss of life.

One client of famed hairdresser Stephen Knoll said she “cut her hair after Sept. 11 because, as she said, 'I felt so different internally, I wanted something to express it externally.'”

The client said that some of her friends “have felt similarly compelled.” One friend who practically shaved her head “explained that this was, in fact, an ancient ritual of grieving.”