Over the last century, there has been a revolution in self-presentation and social attitudes towards hair. Developments in mass manufacturing, advances in chemical science, and new understandings of bodies and minds have been embraced by new kinds of hairdressers and their clientele and embodied in styles that reflect shifting ideals of what it is to be and to look modern.
The emergence of the ladies’ hairdressing salon, the rise of the celebrity stylist, the impact of Hollywood, an expanding mass media, and a new synergy between fashions in clothing and hairstyles have rippled out globally. Fashions in hair styles and their representation have taken on new meanings as a way of resisting dominant social structures, experimenting with social taboos, and expressing a modern sense of self. From the 1920s bob to the punk cut, hair has continued to be deeply involved in society’s larger issues.
Drawing on a wealth of visual, textual, and object sources, and illustrated with 75 images, A Cultural History of Hair in the Modern Age presents essays that explore how politics, science, religion, fashion, beauty, the visual arts, and popular culture have reshaped modern hair and its significance as an agent of social change.