May 24, 2012

Long-haired dudes now keeping it up in a bun?

Over the past 20 years, the whole distribution of hair length on men has shifted toward the shorter side. Guys who would've had hair halfway down their back now grow it around shoulder-length, while more conservative guys who would've had 4 or 5-inch hair now keep it very short. Even bald men didn't totally shave it down to the scalp like they do now.

In light of all the other social and cultural changes of the past 20 years, compared to the '60s through the '80s, and returning us back to the mid-century, I interpret this as having something to do with males competing for females less based on looks and sexuality, and more based on providing resources and emotional support.

If he's lucky, that means he's bringing up a family and keeping his wife's neuroses from overheating. If he's not, then he's one of those guys who's just funding his girlfriend or wife's silly addictions and being used as her emotional tampon. In either case, though, she's not choosing so much based on looks, good genes, etc., as she would have back in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, when girls were boy-crazy. We can tell that what's physically attractive to women hasn't changed too much because romance novels (i.e. chick porn) still feature long-haired men on the covers.

So, when choosing boyfriends, they may have a similar picture of "dreamy dude" in their mind, but are ignoring those traits more and giving greater weight to how much providing and supporting he'll deliver. Also, if she is more intent on a long-term monogamous relationship, she'll be less willing to let him wander around with long hair, in the same way that married men prefer that their wives not leave the house with flowing locks that might attract the attention of strange men.

A more recent trend shows that this applies even to the tiny minority of men who still do have long hair -- namely, wearing it up in a bun. An NYT article earlier this year noted some examples, including this picture:


That set off lots of posts from the internet peanut gallery, mostly blaming the NYT for posting another "fake trend" article based on a handful of examples. But here is an even earlier post from late 2010 by some girl who documents the trend with celebrity examples, and most of the commenters agreeing that they look hotter with the bun than with it totally down.

I've kept an informal lookout around here, and I too notice very few of the long-haired guys actually wearing it down, and a good fraction of them wearing a bun (usually lower on the head than in the picture above).

I'm guilty of that as well, though. When I started a couple weeks ago, I thought up the expected rationalizations -- it'll have to be that way to avoid the summer heat, girls tell me I should keep hair away from my face to show my "good bone structure," I won't have it blowing in my face while walking around, etc. But then I thought that my counterpart just 20 years ago would have looked like he was trying out for a part in The Lost Boys, even though they had hot summers, windy weather, and bone structure to worry about back then too.

You only have so much wiggle room within contemporary norms, and outside of that you risk getting thrown out. For ideological and artistic stuff, I could care less about staying within the bounds of our airheaded zeitgeist. Personal appearance isn't so fundamental to our identity, though, so I'm willing to concede more ground there. Besides, when the tide does eventually turn, it'll be easier to let your hair down out of a bun than to grow it out long from nothing.

22 comments:

  1. Dahlia9:45 AM

    What about these guys just wearing a simple pony tail at the nape of the neck??!!

    The bun thing is just terrible :(

    IMHO, all guys can wear long hair in a pony tail, but for older guys, anybody balding, not slender, etc., a pony tail is an absolute must.
    I used to think all guys who were no longer hot looked horrible with long hair, but I've since found the pony tail is a major help, perhaps even better than short.

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  2. Anonymous11:21 AM

    If, as you claim, in falling-crime times girls are looking for a responsible provider type (signaled by a neat appearance and short hair), where does the pua movement fit in? They constantly claim that Western girls don't go for that type of guy anymore, that they want alpha assholes who treat them like shit, that "feelings" and "chemistry" and "butterflies" (i.e. sitting around for hours waiting for a misspelled, uncapitalized two-word text message from that dude in a band) are what matter, and that the old qualifications, such as a decent job and an agreeable personality, are worthless. Certainly, the pus's are prone to exaggeration, but you didn't see this sort of community in the 80s, when all you really needed to do to meet a woman was walk up and talk to her, without any the baroque head games.

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  3. Hair in a bun, on man?! It looks terrible.

    Chin length hair is very attractive though.

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  4. Tom Brady is even handsomer now with his long hair.

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  5. "I've since found the pony tail is a major help, perhaps even better than short."

    Not to be all obsessed with staying current, but a long ponytail generally looks old. The men I've seen with a long ponytail are middle-aged or retirement age. Younger guys wear it in a bun.

    Some things the older generations did better, like not shaving or manscaping their body hair like a bunch of homos. But I don't think the long ponytail was one of those better things.

    If it's a short ponytail, it is effectively the same as a bun from most viewpoints. For a little while when it wasn't too long, I wore it in a half-ponytail or tucked-in ponytail or whatever you call it. But it's too long for that anymore.

    So it's either cut it back to ear or chin length and wear it down, or keep it up somehow, since a ponytail would go down my shoulder blades.

    I haven't ruled out getting it cut back to chin length or so, but one thing you have to remember about guys is that we hate changing hairstyles, don't like experimenting, etc. Just find something that more or less works and stick with it, no more worries.

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  6. Ponytails don't look bad on girls, but longer ones on guys, at least here and now, suggest the guy is a World of Warcraft nerd or something. The worst connotation of the bun on a guy would seem to be hipster backpacker type.

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  7. "If, as you claim, in falling-crime times girls are looking for a responsible provider type (signaled by a neat appearance and short hair), where does the pua movement fit in?"

    Well for those online Game forums, it's worth remembering that the average guy there, maybe the majority, have touched a chick's body in years (or ever). If they're so insightful, why aren't they rolling in it?

    Some are, but those are more into it for basic self-improvement, re-learning what they knew by instinct in their catting-around days, etc. They don't preach a message about the average girl fantasizing about being raped by a biker.

    Anyway, how can we tell that being more aggressive, forward, assholish, negligent, etc., is usually a losing proposition these days? Well look at who's getting married and who girls accept as steady boyfriends. It doesn't mean that they're making passionate love to them, or worshiping them, or falling head over heels -- just the opposite, with the girl rarely (though occasionally) putting out, nagging him, and using him as an ATM.

    But at the end of the day, it is the beta-male provider and doofus dad who are in relationships.

    The hostility toward forward men began around 1992, or whenever that En Vogue released "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)". Then it was "No Scrubs" in the late '90s or early 2000s. Then Pink's song about I'm not here for your entertainment, it's just you and your hand tonight. And now Lady Gaga singing about how great boys are -- because they buy us drinks in bars.

    Probably the most telling evidence is the Game people's technique of "kino escalation." Girls are so cringing and mousy about human contact that the gurus advise you to start with the most insensible touch, then gradually build from there.

    What's so prudish about the culture where that is necessary? Well it doesn't mean not going up and groping a girl. It means you can't even take her hand to dance. They'll get very self-conscious, often uncomfortable. Just from a guy holding her hand as an invitation to dance!

    "but you didn't see this sort of community in the 80s, when all you really needed to do to meet a woman was walk up and talk to her, without any the baroque head games."

    Yeah, and when getting a phone number meant that, sooner or later, you'd be doing something together. Not her trying to lasso you into her stable of attention-givers who she puts on the texting treadmill.

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  8. One last thing -- it seems like the Game people enjoyed most of their success during the mid-2000s euphoria. Wasn't really big in the early 2000s or before, and interest has fallen off a cliff in the past several years, probably because it's not as effective as it used to be circa 2005.

    That would fit with the mid-2000s being a slight return to a rising-crime zeitgeist, triggered by 9/11. Girls really were more flirty back then.

    Even an otherwise aggressive and hostile-sounding female singer like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs made that vulnerable love song "Maps". Hadn't heard one of those in a long time, and not since then either.

    Another data-point there is that since the early-mid '90s girls have gotten more into experimenting sexually with other girls. Obviously a sign of pulling away from men and trying to get by on their own or with their sisters.

    However, the GSS results from 2004 or 2006 showed a sharp retreat from bisexuality/lesbianism, although it then continued its earlier course by the later 2000s.

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  9. Used to have long hair a few years ago, wore it folded twice like a South American tennis pro. I guess that classifies as a bun.

    Got a mixed reception from girls. Not that many liked it, but the ones who did considered it a significant plus. They were mostly artsy girls, no surprises there.

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  10. Anonymous8:34 PM

    RE: Long hair on guys,

    What about guys with curly hair?When I go long, I tend to Fro out, and I know that that is a look (cf Romance novel covers, with their straight-haired heroes)that girls do not like.

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  11. Dahlia9:04 PM

    "Not to be all obsessed with staying current, but a long ponytail generally looks old. The men I've seen with a long ponytail are middle-aged or retirement age. Younger guys wear it in a bun."

    No need to apologize. You gotta do what you gotta do as a single guy. I'm just shocked that my young counterpart would be going for a guy in a bun.

    I always loved longer hair on guys which my husband had. I was a good girl, too, though. Saw the long hair as a sign of passion over milquetoast. In the past, such a comment would have offended me (what? you're calling me a tramp?), but I understand it better now and have come to realize that I was far luckier than most girls in marriage.

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  12. * I guess these are my personal preferences, but there's an optimal length for long hair. I think it's chin or neck or shoulder length.

    * The shag haircut looks great on guys. I think you see this on a lot of 70s rock stars.

    * I've noticed that a lot of nerdy guys have very long hair (longer than shoulder length), but they don't look good at all.

    * Pony tails of any length are just terrible.

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  13. mantle4:09 AM

    "One last thing -- it seems like the Game people enjoyed most of their success during the mid-2000s euphoria. Wasn't really big in the early 2000s or before, and interest has fallen off a cliff in the past several years, probably because it's not as effective as it used to be circa 2005."

    Pretty much. The funny thing is that, in my experience, Game materials from the mid-2000s are still effective on women ages 28-32 or so. This makes sense, since in 2005, they were 21-25, and were the prime targets of PUAs. The Mystery Method is still useful on them.

    With today's young ladies (20-25), what tends to work is to be swift and aggressive. Since girls aren't used to being approached and are very awkward and frigid from a lifetime of computer and cellphone use, and they grew up with emasculated boys who were raised in the 90s to exhibit little masculinity, they respond very well to a cavemanesque attitude.

    Most of the best blogs on Game now ridicule the elaborate, systematic theories you will find in the Mystery Method. The trick is to be a caveman, since they're so tired of guys who just play video games and exhibit no initiative. It's the older women who still fall for charming stories which subtly allude to the speaker's attractive qualities.

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  14. Anonymous7:01 PM

    I have to disagree with this one. My own anecdotal experience tells me that, as long as they can be supported through welfare and other government policies, women will always choose "good genes".

    That being said, if women really are going back to "provider men", its probably because of the disproportionate effect the recession is having on women - more women than men seem to be losing jobs.

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  15. Anonymous7:07 PM

    To respond to mantle's post, I believe Game is mostly a crock of shit. There's not statistical evidence for it whatsoever.

    "The trick is to be a caveman, since they're so tired of guys who just play video games and exhibit no initiative. It's the older women who still fall for charming stories which subtly allude to the speaker's attractive qualities."

    But this is anecdotal. And any real research done on the topic shows the enormous importance of a man's looks and his smell - in other words, his inherent genes.

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  16. Anonymous7:11 PM

    "Certainly, the pus's are prone to exaggeration, but you didn't see this sort of community in the 80s, when all you really needed to do to meet a woman was walk up and talk to her, without any the baroque head games."

    Most likely because PUA is a giant scam. All the real research on the topic shows that sexual attraction seems to be largely genetic - I'd recommend the book "Love at First Sight", by Suzy Amis.

    As to why Game has had a sudden resurgence, I blame it on the sheltering of male children. Ultimately, the PUAs are just as sheltered and clueless as the nerds they so love to condemn.

    For instance, Whenever you mention Game to a "natural" or a man from the Baby Boomer Generation, their response is ridicule and contempt. "How could you fall for something so stupid??" etc.

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  17. Anonymous1:14 AM

    "in falling-crime times girls are looking for a responsible provider type"

    Women are never really looking for a responsible provider type. They're only forced into it in a patriarchal society. Feminists are right about that one.

    Left to their own devices, women prefer goodlooking men.

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  18. mantle3:41 AM

    "But this is anecdotal. And any real research done on the topic shows the enormous importance of a man's looks and his smell - in other words, his inherent genes."

    PUAs either gloss over, or stress, that getting laid a lot means approaching and getting rejected almost nonstop.

    Anyway, I agree that looks and smell are important, but there are other factors which come into play. Let's leave Game aside. Do you think women would be more likely to sleep with a man if he became a millionaire, than they would be if he wasn't one? Would women be more likely to sleep with a successful rock star, than if he wasn't one?

    And what about failures? I'm sure any guy, if he's honest, could tell you a story about a time a girl was attracted to him, but he totally blew it because he was being a douchebag or was timid, said something stupid or didn't know what to say. A girl might be intrigued by how a guy looks and smells, but he won't get anywhere if he talks about the time he cried watching Teletubbies.

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  19. Anonymous11:45 PM

    "Do you think women would be more likely to sleep with a man if he became a millionaire, than they would be if he wasn't one? Would women be more likely to sleep with a successful rock star, than if he wasn't one"

    No woman wants a social outcast. Being a millionaire or a rockstar proves that a man isn't a social outcast. Yet, I'm skeptical about the ability of professional or financial success to increase a man's attractiveness... at least in a feminist society.

    Another way to look at it is that fame increases opportunities to meet women, but not your inherent attractiveness. Ordinarily, you have to prove to a woman that you're a social insider by being introduced to her by a mutual friend, etc. Once you've proven you're a social insider, then she decides if you have the correct genes. Of course, infiltrating various social circles takes a lot of time and energy, and also not all social circles will accept you. Whereas, if you're famous, you can skip all that and move straight to "do you have good genes?"

    Much of the promiscuity of famous men is drastically overestimated, IMO. Many men are invested in the fantasy of fame - that if they become famous or rich, they can have any woman they want. Yet men who are actually famous or rich will tell you that is not the case. Take a look at Bill Gates' wife, for instance.

    "And what about failures? I'm sure any guy, if he's honest, could tell you a story about a time a girl was attracted to him, but he totally blew it because he was being a douchebag or was timid, said something stupid or didn't know what to say. A girl might be intrigued by how a guy looks and smells, but he won't get anywhere if he talks about the time he cried watching Teletubbies."

    Absolutely right, but this is not lack of "Game", but rather lack of basic social capability. many men will be blatantly inappropriate when approaching women, yet not realize how bad they were. A general rule of thumb will be that if your behavior would creep out a man, it will also creep out a woman. That being said, most "cold approaches" are a waste of time, unless you happen to be really physically attractive or famous.

    Most sexual partners, at least in the middle-class, meet through mutual social activities or mutual friends. As agnostic has explained many times on this blog, promiscuity and one night stands are grossly inflated in the media during falling-crime times.

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  20. Anonymous8:52 AM

    Also, if it is true that women choose partners based more on looks during rising-crime periods, the implications are pretty drastic.

    For one, those born after 1992 should be getting less attractive, on average, than those born before 1992.

    And for two, Americans should be more attractive than Europeans, because America has experienced more rising-crime times.

    There may be some evidence for the second point. A recent study showed that American skulls are becoming longer and narrower(both traits associated with attractiveness) relative to European skulls.

    This can also explain a lot of other phenomena - for instance, the decreasing sexiness of A-list actresses. During falling crime times, looks alone are less promoted, so you don't necessarily have to be sexy to become a bigtime actress.

    It can also explain the rise of frats in the 90s. Fraternity membership is linked to earning potential, so it would only be attractive during a falling-crime period.

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  21. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Here is a link to the study about the evolution of American skulls. Note that the article says the same thing is not happening in Europe, or not happening as fast.

    http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/05/30/Americans-skulls-getting-bigger-over-time/UPI-83291338412167/?spt=hs&or=sn

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  22. mantle10:07 PM

    "Yet, I'm skeptical about the ability of professional or financial success to increase a man's attractiveness... at least in a feminist society."

    Let's look at what men value in women. Above all else, looks are what count. That being said, looks aren't everything. A man might be able to put up with a 9 who is borderline, but he sure as hell would prefer a sweet, loving woman. If she knows how to cook good food and enjoys tidying up the house, all the better.

    So while looks are crucial, they aren't the sole factor at work in what men want in women. That is more so the case with women.

    "Another way to look at it is that fame increases opportunities to meet women, but not your inherent attractiveness."

    How little do you think George Clooney has to do to get laid?

    "Much of the promiscuity of famous men is drastically overestimated, IMO. Many men are invested in the fantasy of fame - that if they become famous or rich, they can have any woman they want. Yet men who are actually famous or rich will tell you that is not the case. Take a look at Bill Gates' wife, for instance."

    Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have relatively homely wives, but I doubt they were as interested in bedding hotties than they are in acquiring money and power. If you sleep with numerous women, that's all well and good, but it's time consuming to seduce them and attend to their interests. If you have one wife, then that saves time. (To quote Steve Sailer, "Monogamy is a time saver.")

    "Absolutely right, but this is not lack of "Game", but rather lack of basic social capability."

    Game = social capability among women

    Learning Game just means learning to be more capable among women.

    "That being said, most "cold approaches" are a waste of time, unless you happen to be really physically attractive or famous."

    Let me put it this way: you're right in that most cold approaches aren't successful. Let's say 90% of them fail. That 10% is still what makes a player, if enough cold approaches are done.

    If you approach often, you will lose 90% of the time. If you don't approach, you won't get laid 100% of the time.

    "As agnostic has explained many times on this blog, promiscuity and one night stands are grossly inflated in the media during falling-crime times."

    Not really... If anything, the "rising crime times" had a more structured dating culture. Baby Boomers I talk to are often startled by how informal sex is among today's youth. I remember talking with one guy in his 40s who was unnerved by how today's youth "fuck before they date, instead of dating before fucking."

    Studies may indicate that today's youth lose their virginity later, have fewer sexual partners, are single for longer bouts of time, etc. I'm not disputing that, but that still doesn't preclude a certain culture existing within the broader one with plenty of no-strings attached sex, whereby 20% of men get 80% of the action.

    In a nutshell, teenagers in the 70s would enter into serious relationships in high school and then start having sex when they were 16, 17 or so. Nowadays, they're single when they're in high school, go to college and then enter into a weird, informal fucking culture, where they don't really date so much as get drunk and shack up.

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