The Importance of A Woman’s Hair, China

By Abi King | North Asia

Oct 01

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In many a culture, the lusciousness of a woman’s locks says something about her status. Kate Middleton’s hairdresser arrived a good five hours before Kate ventured outside holding the third king in waiting of England. And the symbolic photo of US pop princess Britney Spears’ meltdown involved her hair, or lack of it. After hairdressing staff had refused to do the deed, she apparently grabbed the razor from their hands and shaved her head herself.Edited Longji - 03


Despite the fact that women are expected to remove their hair elsewhere on an ongoing basis, for a woman to remove the hair on her head is deemed a clear sign of psychiatric illness.

In the small town of Huanglou, near Guilin, the role of women and their hair takes on a different but no less important role. For Yao women, the rituals surrounding their hair have transcended their original purpose (to symbolise their fertility and marital status) and instead become the principle way the town earns money in a 21st century economy.Edited Longji - 05

The Yao Long Hair Show

A girl’s hair is never cut until she comes of age (at around 18.) At that point, it’s lopped off in one go and kept somewhere safe. As she bears children, she changes her hairstyle and threads together the hair of her childhood with her current growing locks.

By the time she reaches the matriarchal stage of life, her hair reaches down to the floor, a shimmering, treacly threaded collection of gloss.Edited Longji - 07

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This comes from the Guilin section of the #dragonroute with some assistance from Cathay Pacific UK and China Odyssey Tours.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • Mandy says:

    Impressive, I never knew this!

  • Beautiful pictures!

  • Oscar says:

    That is long! Nothing like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane :)

  • What an incredible post! Hair has such a powerful significance across cultures; think of the Victorian obsession with long hair (like the Lady of Shallot’s). Thank you for documenting this in such vivid prose and pictures.

  • Morgan says:

    Very interesting post! I had no idea hair played such a large role in the Yao culture. I suspect men’s hair has no relevance?

  • whereforarthoujasmine says:

    What an interesting read. I wonder how they keep their hair silky smooth.

  • Voyager For Life (@renns20) says:

    I never knew this! :)

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