It is/It isn't about the Hair

This is my second post about Farrah Fawcett. Who woulda thunk it? I was struck by recent reports about her hair. People magazine tells us: A particularly cruel aspect of the disease is that Fawcett has now lost her iconic golden tresses. "The hair is gone," says [Ryan] O'Neal. "Her famous hair. I have it at home." This was the headline in Friday's Mirror (UK): Farrah Fawcett has lost all her hair as docs stop cancer treatment . Today's Toronto Globe & Mail tells us that one of the many Fawcett items on the market included a hairstyle-practice doll. The G & M's Lynn Crosbie writes that O'Neal is hanging on to her bag of hair. I don't know whether this is meant metaphorically.

Crosbie also reports that O'Neil said that Fawcett's curls spell out sex in the red bathing suit poster. I don't see it, though this sounds oddly familiar. This must be a common claim, not quite as cute as Al Hirschfeld's ('03-'03) practice of tucking in the name of his daughter, Nina, into every caricature.

But as I said a while back, we do measure the health of someone with cancer (or who recently had cancer) by the shape of her hair. First of all, is it there? And second of all, is it lustrous? Once the hair grows back, we assume unconsciously that the person is back on the road to health. Which may be true. But it may not. My hair is now made up of thick five-inch long curls. Which I like, and which L thinks is too much. But he doesn't understand that just a year and a half ago a friend referred to my hairstyle as resembling Gertrude Stein's. (See below.) That was during the painfully slow re-growth peach-fuzz stage, which lasted about four months.

And so we see hair as amulet--as long as my hair's shiny, the cancer won't come back; it's easy to forget that my hair was perfectly fine and full on the day the biopsy confirmed I had stage 2a cancer.


stacy muszynski said...

I always thought it was about that I-gridn-my-teeth-in-the-dead-of-night "smile." No?

stacy muszynski said...

Scuze me. "grind"

Elizabeth Crane said...

My mom had the same, thick, gorgeous head of hair she always had, all through chemo, and when she died of cancer. So there you go.

Anonymous said...

In the 60s, hair was called a "freak flag" in one of the songs in "Hair." Seems to me that hair has always been about drawing attention. In that way, it's a sexual signal, just like Farrah's white teeth in that poster....and her nipples.

A woman I know who lost her hair to chemotherapy grew it all back, very long. She said she loves long hair because her mother never let her wear her hair long.

Many guys, of course, deal with loss of hair through balding. There's a reason why you see so many comb-overs. Hair is a signal of vitality, or at least guys think of it as a signal of virility.

Cancer Bitch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cancer Bitch said...

I thought guys who were close to balding just shaved their heads. I really don't understand that because I think most of them would look better w/ some hair.
Hair was/is a sign of rebellion. Wildness. Tribe.
Betsy, I'm sorry to hear about your mom.
C. Bitch

Patrick T. Reardon said...

I think the shaved head is instead of a comb-over, so that's a plus.

But you're right. Michael Jordan can get away with the shaved head look, but take a gander at all those shaved head bald white guys. Not pretty.

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Anonymous said...

Oh I see it, the curls in her hair do spell out sex. Go straight down from her chin to her armpit and there's the X. The S is on her right shoulder (bottom curve of the S is going through a partial circle also made of a curl of hair). The E is hardest to see, it is lower case and the top arc is missing.

Sign me, Newly dxed