Rapunzel’s Daughters: What Women’s Hair Tells Us About Women’s Lives by Rose Weitz

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I thoroughly enjoyed Rapunzel’s Daughters because I learned so much about hair. When I first saw the book, I was trying to figure out how someone could possibly fill a whole book about hair. However I was pleasantly suprised to find there is lots to talk about. The chapters are called The History of Women’s Hair, Hot Combs and Scarlet Ribbons, Ponytails and Purple Mohawks, What We Do For Love, Paychecks and Power Haircuts, Bald Truths, At the Salon, I’ll Dye Until I Die and No More Bad Hair Days.

In the History of Women’s Hair we learn about how hair was cared for and styled in the past. Styles and customs are separated into races since a Caucasian, Latin American and an African American all have different hair as well as different customs about hair. In Hot Combs and Scarlet Ribbons, we learn about what different people do are had done to their hair. The book is full of interviews with all kinds of women from all over. How girls hair was styled depended on what the parents, teachers, peers and media thought was fashionable. Girls rarely decided themselves how their hair would be styled.

In Ponytails and Purple Mohawks, we learn about how some people style or colour their hair to stand out. It also talks about how many lesbians cut their hair and why they do so. It talks about fitting in with stories like the one about the caucasian girl in an otherwise african-american school and how she wanted her thin blonde hair in corn rows since everyone else in her class had them. What We Do For Love talks about styling and colouring our hair the way our husbands want us to. At the same time, when some women divorce or leave an abusive husband, they change their hairstyle so that they feel they can start over. Paychecks and Power Haircuts talks about hair in the work world. In some jobs, you are required to play up your femininity so women with long curly hair are preferred over short straight or braided hair. In some cases, you can be fired for cutting your hair. In other jobs, especially ones where women are in the minority, looking feminine will make you stand out so more masculine cuts and styles are better.

Bald Truths addresses those with Alopecia and those who lose hair due to Chemotherapy. We may not always realize it but hair is very important to women and those women without hair can suffer greatly. Besides being teased and looked upon strangely, they tend not to get as many looks from guys since hair is a big attraction. The chapter also looks at women who shave their heads, to attract attention, show they are lesbian or just downplay their femininity. At the Salon explains what both hairdresser and client get out of a trip to the salon. It’s more than just a new do. Many hairdressers act like social workers, listening to clients problems and suggesting ideas. I’ll Dye until I Die covers the history of hair dying as it went from something only a few did in secret to the present where lots do it. It talks about how coloring to cover grey came about and how different hair colours show different personality types.

Finally, No More Bad Hair Days is the wrap up chapter, talking about how it might be if hair wasn’t as important in the world as it is. This book is a must read for anyone interested in sociology but is a very interesting read for any adult.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.