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Ask Andrew W.K.: "Looking Different Is Pretty Common These Days"

Ask Andrew W.K.: "Looking Different Is Pretty Common These Days"
Photo by Frank Longhitano

[Editor's note: Every week New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]

Dear Andrew,

I've had long hair since I was very young. I've only cut it once so I could play high school baseball. Since then, I've let go of my baseball dreams and started back down the path of growing my hair out again. It's almost at its perfect length. The only thing is, my parents aren't the biggest fans of long hair, and it can be hard to find a part time job with long flowing locks. Still, I feel like it's part of me, and I don't feel comfortable without it -- I don't look like myself with short hair. Andrew, as someone who's also had long hair for a long time, do you have any advice on how I can keep my long hair from affecting my life?

Your friend, Chris

See also: Our Ask Andrew W.k. archive

Dear Chris, Having long hair will always affect your life, no matter what. It can be in small ways, like clogging the drain with clumpy slime after just one shower, or having to make sure you don't zip your own hair into your coat. Or it can be in bigger ways, like with the job difficulties you mentioned, or just dealing with people's perceptions and snap judgments about long haired dudes.

It's interesting to note how strongly hair styles can impact our appearance and how people interpret us. If someone has a shaved head, that "look" has such a strong set of vibes that come along with it, compared with someone who has long hair, or medium length hair, or a bald spot. And then there are hair styles -- spiked up, perfectly combed, crazy colors, dreadlocks, super clean, super greasy, and so on. Perhaps even more than our style of dress, our hairstyle seems to define us and send a message to the world about who we are and what we do. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me if I'm a musician, just because I've had long hair.

I actually don't really like having long hair. I don't like the attention or the "going against the grain" attitude it seems to imply. At this point, I'd prefer to blend in and not look too different than most people. There's nothing wrong with wanting to stand out from the crowd, but "looking different" is pretty common these days. How can you look different when looking different isn't different anymore? Besides, everyone is naturally different simply by the power of their own inherent individuality - we're all snowflakes. So, if we need to remind people that we're unique just by amplifying our appearance, some might say "you're trying too hard."

Then again, some people just like certain styles of dress and hair and physical presentation, regardless if they attract attention or not. Based on what you said, it sounds like you just really prefer the way long hair looks on you. You're not doing it to rebel or lash out, you just like it. For me, I also think I look best with long hair (and long hair also works best for head banging), but the main reason I keep my hair long is because Andrew W.K. has long hair, just like Santa has a beard and Pee-Wee has a bow tie. I'm meant to have long hair, so I oblige and follow my calling.

All in all, I think physical and emotional comfort is overrated, and I especially think that aesthetic comfort is too highly prized. I'd encourage you to occasionally embrace the way it feels to wear clothes you don't like and hairstyles you don't prefer, just to remind yourself that your appearance and stylistic preferences ultimately don't have that much impact on who you really are. At the same time, you should have long hair if you want to. Fuck what your parents think about it, and I'm sure you can find some job that doesn't hire solely based on hair length. Ultimately, life's too short for us to get bogged down by things like hairstyle and appearance. We have better things to do with our precious time and energy... like partying!

Your friend, Andrew W.K.

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