The Not Very Intelligent Design of Hair
Excerpt from the book, Not Very Intelligent Design
People spend a lot of time, money and effort on hair. It needs washing, cutting, styling, straightening, curling or colouring. Some people find that it even needs replanting. Or plucking. In days gone by, a noble hairline (these days known as a fivehead, being approximately 25% larger than a forehead) was achieved by women having the front of their scalp plucked bare.
The plucked forehead phenomenon originated after the Queen of Belgium’s fourth cousin, Philomena Pluck, was mercilessly ridiculed as a young woman by other junior members of the royal court on account of her massive frontal scalp area. Pluck endured the taunting for some months before formulating a plan to rise to the throne, thereby ensuring that her appearance could no longer be mocked. By systematically poisoning, throat slitting and eye gouging her fellow courtiers, fifteen in all, Philomena cleared the way to be the unchallenged heiress to the throne. A royal stenographer was reported to have referred to her as the “hairless heiress” shortly before his disappearance, an incident not unconnected with the Queen’s fatal fall from her bedroom window the following day, ensuring that Philomena was an heiress no longer.
Queen Philomena decreed that any woman with an ignoble hairline would not be received at court or be eligible for marriage to any nobleman. Thus the noble hairline became immediately fashionable and, perhaps surprisingly, remained de rigueur for more than thirty eight years following her untimely death.
A lesser known fact arising from this saga is that Philomena’s resolve, in dispatching so many people so relentlessly in her drive for revenge and power, is the origin of the meaning of the word “plucky”. (Dispatching is a technique where tufty patches of hair on an otherwise bald pate are removed in the interests of uniformity, but its origin is not related to the dispatchings of the Plucky Princess.)
So what’s the point of a hairy scalp? Hair that keeps growing and growing and needs cutting annoyingly often, even if only for purely practical purposes? Long hair gets in the way. And the longer it is, the more of a nuisance it is. Long hair can end up in your soup, in your mouth, in your eyes on a windy day, or between the sticky fingers of the pervert sitting behind you on the bus.
Scalp grown hair affects our self perception. Usually adversely. How’s my hair looking today? I wonder if it needs a cut? What’s fashionable right now for someone like me? It’s hard to feel good when you think your hair looks bad. Look at the lengths some men go to to pretend they’re not going bald. Tattooed stubble. The hair piece. Or the full rug. The punch ’n’ grow. The comb-over. The spray thickener. And even the reverse comb-over with orange spray thickener and glue, which can only possibly look sensible in a mirror.
Short-haired cats and dogs have hair that grows to a sensible length, long enough to provide coverage and protection from the sun, and then it stops. They never need a haircut and never have a bad hair day. Which would have been a very good solution for the scalp of mankind, and entirely possible given the technology available to the designer. The evidence for that being true is that short-haired cats and dogs were designed about the same time as man.
Hair anywhere on the head seems to be entirely unnecessary. Sufferers of alopecia totalis are only sufferers because they don’t look the same as everybody else and may feel a little self-conscious as a result. Black guys look good with shaved heads. Middle-aged, chubby white guys, not so much. But if nobody had any hair on their head, we’d all be happy that we’re having the equivalent of a good hair day, every day.
And then there’s facial hair. What’s the point of that? Women and children do perfectly well without it and don’t have to spend any time on maintenance. Would anyone opt for facial hair if it didn’t carry any social significance? And once again, why does it need to keep growing? Cats have facial hair, but around the mouth it’s only about a millimetre long. Without ever needing to be groomed. If nobody had facial hair there’d be no need to signal your affiliation to hipsterism, suicide bombing or any other absurd societal group by growing a huge unruly bush on your mush.
Most men are forced into a regime of daily shaving in order to avoid the itchy stubble sensation. And it’s well known that women do not appreciate stubble rash either on the face or on the inner thigh no matter how little they may complain at the time of acquisition.
Whilst on the subject of intimacy, a cat on your head doesn’t feel anywhere near as cuddly as a cat on the bare skin of your face, (provided you’ve had a shave), and the bare skin on bare skin sensation of touching someone you really fancy should be enough evidence for anybody to realise that all hair is really just a nuisance.
Hair – clearly an example of not very intelligent design.
Final Mark – 1/10 (because it provides jobs)