Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hair Dancing the World Over

I love the travel channel. The wanderlust is setting in pretty severly these days, and (given the state of my bank account)travel documentaries are my best chance for escape. Generally speaking, Samantha Brown and Anthony Bourdain are my favorites.

But anyway... I was watching Globe Trekker this afternoon. The episode was Hong Kong and Taiwan, and at the end the host was on Orchid (Lanyu) Island. The aboriginal people of the island (which is now a major tourist destination) are said to have retained their traditional way of life almost entirely in the face of tourism and technology. From go2taiwan.net (I know, not necessarily a terribly reliable source, but anyway):

The aboriginal inhabitants of Orchid Island are a tribe called the Yami, which has a population of only 4,000 and is the only oceanic tribe among Taiwan 's aboriginal cultures. Unique features of Yami culture include elaborately decorated fishing canoes, the loincloths worn by Yami men, the Flying Fish Festival, and traditional semi-subterranean dwellings.

What does the Yami tribe of Orchid Island have to do with sex, you wonder? Well, it turns out that the women-folk of the tribe do a traditional hair dance (according to Globe Trekker, to welcome the men home from fishing). In what is clearly a demonstration of youth and vigor, the women circle up and dance around flipping their long dark hair. And all I could think of when I saw it was Britney Spears.

Honestly, the dance is beautiful. The women shake their heads from side to side and then flip them up and down. I'm sure the men find it very appealing. But now, picture almost any female pop star's last hit dance video. She flips her hair, doesn't she? Or fingers it, or it's in her face the whole time... Just look at this:

Brit's got her hair in her face, she brushes it away only to scrunch it up and draw attention to it again, she moves with enough force to swing it around... and it's sexy. Well, maybe not to everyone. But I think it is, and I don't really even like her.

I guess it's safe to say that there's nothing terribly modern about all the fuss we make over our hair. The new Sunsilk commercials urge women to Get Hairapy, and it makes sense. Sure, we want our hair to look healthy! Think of all of the sexy and romantic notions that go along with tangling your fingers in someone's hair. Now, think of how far back those sexy and romantic notions must go.

Sex appeal: clearly much more complex than just tits and ass.

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