Segment from Crowning Glory

American Hair Story

BackStory listeners share how signature hairstyles have changed how they see themselves.


Escape the Profane by Ketsa

Flutter by Jahzzar

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
View Transcript

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking BackStory listeners to tell us about how hair reflects their identity. A few of you sent in messages to tell us what your hair means to you.

TOBY CROWLEY: Hey, BackStory, I’m Toby, an American living in Dresden, Germany, and I thought about your question about hair, and I realized that I grew up in one of those families where all the boys went to the barber together and got the exact same haircut, which is just like what the army requires. And then later I grew my hair out when I moved away. I cut it back to my official family haircut in order to like, I don’t know, have a piece of them with me.

SAMANTHA NEWMAN: This is Samantha from Illinois. I’ve had long hair almost my whole life and I’ve always associated my identity and prettiness with it being long because I received the message loud and clear from just about every direction, especially my mom. I’ll never forget that as a kid, my best friend cut her hair short and her elderly male neighbor told us that a woman should have long hair because hair is a woman’s crowning glory. And it wasn’t until recently at the age of 33 that I felt comfortable enough with myself to admit, hey, I want my hair very short, and I have for a long time, but I was too afraid people wouldn’t think I’m pretty anymore, and that’s so important. So I had it cut into a pixie and I love it.

JAY FULLER: Hey, BackStory kinfolk. My name’s Jay. I’m 28. I identify as black. I live in the DC metro area to the north. The haircut that I rock almost religiously is the Caesar, 1 and 1/2 faded to the side and to the back, but I’m also growing out my beard. And I know that there are historical accounts of black men not being permitted to grow beards because of the masculinity and manhood that is symbolized. Thanks.


NATHAN: Those were the voices of Toby Crowley, Samantha Newman, and Jason Fuller. We’ll hear more listener perspectives later in the show.