OLAMIDE ENIOLA reports that more women are now going for low cut for reasons ranging from time management to financial reasons just as more men are loving the hairstyle on their partners who wear it.
IN this part of the world, it is common for men to wit their hair frequently. For some, it is as frequent as fortnightly. However, ladies are also following suit these days with some having not just a low-cut, but skin cut.
Ironically, in some parts of the country, it is a taboo for women to have their hair cut so low. In some parts of the South-East and South-South, women who wear low cuts are either undergoing widowhood rites or freshly mourning the loss of their husbands. For people from such culture, it may be a shock to see women wearing low-cut as a fashion fad.
The sociology of low haircut
A development sociology scholar at the University of Ibadan, Dr Olayinka Akanle, while admitting that women on low-cut are now common sight, provided the sociology behind the trend.
“Sociologically, there are many angles to the prevalence of low-cut among the youth in recent times. Number one, it is about social change, while it is about activism among some people. If you don’t know, it is not easy to carry low-cut; it requires some elements of boldness.
“Again, it is interesting to know that most married women who appear in low-cut chose to, not that they are forced by their husbands. In fact, an average man would want his wife to plait her hair. So, when a woman barbs her hair, she is first of all comfortable with herself doing so. If a lady believes she is not beautiful, she cannot appear in low-cut.
“There is a class dimension to it in that low cut is common among the young urban elite women. The elderly women who appear in low haircut are predominantly the elite, not from the lower class. Although not entirely modern, it is now more predominant than in the traditional society,” Dr. Akanle explained.
Why low haircut?
Certain factors, ranging from the harsh economy, the need for time management and personal identity to health factors are reasons it is now fashionable for women to appear in low-cut. An Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife lecturer, Professor Toba Elegbeleye, also spoke on the possible rationales behind the trend.
“It is cost-saving, especially in an age where it takes a fortune to maintain a socially-acceptable hairdo. There is an upsurge in the use of state-of-the-art wigs. It also saves time and cost. There is also a rise in the social consciousness that liberalises sexual preferences.
“Some lesbians prefer to look more like men. Some schools insist on low-cut for young in-school girls. This is fashionable for the female folk doing it. Rather than take it as clear departure from culture, I will view this as dynamism of culture. Culture is not static. Women on low-cut are part of our new culture!” he said.
Speaking further on the low haircut trend, Dr Akanle of UI, Ibadan explained that women simply want to be positively different by looking natural, among other reasons.
“Some of them are tired of carrying the modern wigs. Some of them also appear on low-cut because of the cost. It also takes time for women to plait their hair. Some could be at the salon for the whole day. Some of them also want to appear fresh all the time with the water touching their scalps.
“Some of them also take it out to prove the sociology of gender. This portrays them as gender advocates. When feminism started in Nigeria, even across the world, their main identity was to cut their hair low. Some even cut their hair to identify themselves as gender people.
“Sociologically, it can be argued that women appearing in haircut are neither defiant nor non-conforming. Otherwise, their choice of hairdo will be given a negative connotation. Viewed culturally, it is a form of cultural ascendancy. It is an ascendancy of a new pattern. It is a coping strategy,” the don said.
Sunday Tribune spoke with a cross section of women trending low haircut as a matter of style to find out what the attraction is for them. A woman who simply identified herself as Dorcas said she often has dandruff when she has a hairdo but with low-cut, it disappears and moreover, her husband loves her low-cut looks.
“At times, when I plait my hair, it pains me. Aside that, I often get dandruff. These are the reasons I decided to go on low haircut. The good thing about low-cut is that one will be able to pour water on one’s head and enjoy the cool breeze.
“Although I use wig while going out on a few occasions, my husband loves my low-cut because this gives him access to rub my hair especially when I tint it,” Dorcas said.
To ascertain how deep ladies are into the low-cut fad, Sunday Tribune visited a barbing salon at Ososami, Oke Ado, Ibadan where it spoke with the owner, Olakunle Alade, who has been practising the trade for the past 10 years.
According to Alade: “If we have 10 male customers, we could also have between three and eight women customers. This gives us the impression that more women now wear low haircut more than before.”
Dr Helen Ugah, during her secondary school days, wore low haircut because the school authorities did not allow students to plait their hair. So, since after her secondary school education, she has been plaiting her hair right until three years ago when she started her Ph.D programme and hairdressing became a big task for her.
“This was probably due to the fact that time became precious to me because I was working and schooling at the same time. The only free days I had were weekends, which I always utilised to ensure I met up with the demands of the programme. So, there was no time to make my hair.
“Moreover, the stress of running a Ph.D made me always want to pour water on my head, and being on low haircut was the only way I could achieve that without having a smelly hair. So, for the past three years, I have been plaiting my hair. I love my low-cut! I don’t think I’ll ever make my hair! Being on low-cut makes me feel free,” she said.
Asked if marriage could change her preference for low haircut, she said: “I don’t think marriage too will make me start plaiting my hair. I think it should be my decision. No man has the right to enforce his choice on any woman. Since it’s my hair and my head, I think it would be my decision. But if he asks me nicely, I could agree to start making my hair again,” she said.
Mrs Ayotomilola Olatunji’s experience with painful scalp was the reason she dropped hairdressing for low haircut, but it is an in-between thing whenever she gets tired of visiting the salon.
“I have had my hair barbed for about four times since 2010. I have a really painful scalp, so I get tired of making my hair. I have never been a fashionista, so I am not really concerned about making my hair. I just feel really comfortable on low-cut. The farthest I can go now is braids,” she said, adding that “I carried my natural hair for about four years and I got tired of combing it. I went on low-cut again and I still look adorable in it.”
Alade, the hairstylist told Sunday Tribune that one advantage of barbing for women is that it is cheaper to do at just N300 compared to what they spend on dressing their hair. Apart from that, it also changes women’s looks more constantly, adding that some men even encourage their partners to go for low haircut.
“Just yesterday, one elderly man, around 60, brought his wife here to have her hair barbed. It made the woman look younger. She loved it and told me that her new look will make her more attractive to her husband and prevent him from going after young ladies. The man also loved it and paid me double for my service,” he said.
Mrs Wuraola Olanike
Since I was young, I love cutting my hair a lot. Sometimes, I decide to cut my hair a day after making a really beautiful hairstyle. Also, my husband loves me better on low-cut, that was why I decided to go for the latest one. I also feel being on low-cut helps me to save a lot of money. My husband prefers me on low-cut to wearing wigs; he prefers my natural look so I rock my new look without wigs, and my husband and everyone love it on me.
Okueso Temitope Rachael
Low-cut is really refreshing. Having the opportunity to pour water on your head while having your bath, nothing beats that feeling of being free. Some people may think that because I am not making my hair I don’t spend money on it, it is not true, because low haircut is not cheap.
Hair stress is too much. It was also taking too much of my money. So I decided to go for low-cut. I rock it always because I’m not a big fan of wig swigs.
Ehibe Uloma Celestina
I rock my low-cut because it gives me a flawless look in a comfortable and effortless manner. Apart from being less expensive, it doesn’t give room for itching and this makes it less stressful for me. Low-cut brings out that natural plus inner beauty in me. So, I don’t have to rock a wig to look good. I feel good in myself, with myself and by myself on low haircut. The reason I opted for low-cut is because other hairdos don’t last on me, despite being expensive. They also itch all the time. So I feel that plaiting hair is just a waste of time and money.
Additional report by Seun Oyebanji and Omotomiwa Gafar.