They say food brings people together, but I’ve always kinda thought hair did that better. So you’ve got hair across cultures, or sometimes a lack of it for certain people, and just a quick glance at a person’s head can tell you where they’re from. You don’t even need to go round to their house and sample the spaghetti with special sauce from Naples, or the Mousaka from your gran who lived in Athens. Just look at their head.

Well…that worked in history, anyway, which is convenient because that’s what my essay is on. I’m not arguing that you could go into any hair salon in the Melbourne CBD and get a full and rich idea of all sorts of culture. For one thing, hair trends come and go in Melbourne. Short back and sides tells you the rough time period, but I wouldn’t say you could get your hair cut into a Melbourne salon, go on holiday to Tokyo and have people instantly know where you’re from from a glance at your scalp. Not like back in the day, when people took a great deal of care in the cultural way they presented their hair. Japanese nobles had a distinct style, African tribes had all sorts of ways of decorating their hair to indicate status, and vikings were surprisingly intricate in their braids and weaves. I always get the image of a bunch of giant vikings, sitting cross-legged in the grass crossing their long, flaxen hair into pretty braids and ornate twists for hours on end. And hey, I get it. Having your hair done by a friend is super fun and relaxing.

Still need to research that one, however. For all I know, ancient Scandinavians had special hairdressers to create such art. The hair salons open right now in Melbourne are a different breed of hairdressing altogether. Not that I’d say not to have a distinct, Aussie style of hair. What WOULD that look like, anyway? Might get some extra credit for a speculation section.

-M.R.