Skip

Hell toupee
July 11, 2014 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Did you ever get the feeling people are brushing you off? It could be the way you part your hair.

The Hair Part Theory suggests the root of the problem: the side you part your hair has a subconscious impact on others. And for a man, parting your hair on the left can even make you seem less trustworthy. Even though it's not permanent, changing your part can even be seen as a hairbrained political move. Stropping actor Ryan Gosling knows it. So did Superman. Radiolab has the highlights, if you want to mullet over.
posted by Mchelly (73 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
But but but...you have the hair part that god gave you. Or I do, anyway. Whenver I try to part my hair anywhere but the one spot that it's always parted naturally, even if I apply a lot of product in the morning it's reverted by noon. Change your hair parting? I was not aware that this was even possible absent gobs of hairspray, which carries its own trustworthiness problem.
posted by Frowner at 6:41 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


A thing that this MeFi FPP has me doing this morning: checking the part of my hair anxiously.
posted by Kitteh at 6:46 AM on July 11


fwiw, that first link is more-or-less part of an ad for an image-reversing mirror device.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:49 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I can never follow anything about hair parts. Like, is it my left? Your left? What if I mix up my left with my right now that I'm nervous about messing up another layer of abstraction from the direction I comb my hair? When I go to get my haircut, and the barber asks where I prefer my part, I always find myself pantomiming myself combing it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:53 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, my hair is in charge of where it wants to part and it's on my right (I guess that looks "left" to other people). All attempts to change it since childhood have been doomed.
posted by emjaybee at 6:54 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Oh and that is an excellent pun of a post title. Well done.
posted by emjaybee at 6:55 AM on July 11 [23 favorites]


MetaTalk: shows you how you look to others, allowing you to gain an accurate sense of your true self.
posted by Beardman at 7:00 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


What does parting your hair in such a way as to minimize the BILLION COWLICKS ON TOP OF YOUR HEAD say to the world? Asking for a friend.
posted by xingcat at 7:02 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


What does parting your hair in such a way as to minimize the BILLION COWLICKS ON TOP OF YOUR HEAD say to the world? Asking for a friend.

I once had a woman cutting my hair stop, look intensely at my head, and declare "this cowlick is INCREDIBLE." In her defense, it is an incredible cowlick. If I let my hair get long enough (totally normal medium length dude hair), it gets so intense that you can actually see my scalp through the middle of it, like the eye of a hurricane.

I can't control where my hair parts, either.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:06 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I was in middle school at the turn of the century, which means that I was guilty of putting this part in my hair.

Not even going to try to unpack the subconscious psychology of that part.
posted by phunniemee at 7:07 AM on July 11 [11 favorites]


Is this what Roger Daltrey was talking about when he sung "the parting on the left, is now the parting on the right"? Then he starts going on about beards...
posted by TedW at 7:10 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Whenver I try to part my hair anywhere but the one spot that it's always parted naturally, even if I apply a lot of product in the morning it's reverted by noon.

And that's why we can't trust you.
Brushing off your commitment to our side. A flip-flopper. It's bad style, and we want no part in that!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:11 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


i recently part-switched. since then, two cars in a row have mysteriously self-destructed and i've had mild, intermittent insomnia. do the math, sheeple!
posted by Zerowensboring at 7:12 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]


I switched my part from right to left earlier this year, because I have a weird little puff of baby hair on the right side of my hairline that sticks straight out. Changing my part seemed to flatten it out pretty good.

The effect it's had on the rest of my life has been exactly the same as that one time I didn't forward a chain letter.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:14 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I tend to part my hair in the middle when it's longish does this mean I'm in league with Satan y/n?
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 AM on July 11


I part my hair on my right, so when I look in the mirror I don't trust myself.
posted by mazola at 7:16 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


it gets so intense that you can actually see my scalp through the middle of it, like the eye of a hurricane

Cowlick master level is when you have a double crown. And in addition to two cowlicks on the top of my head I also have a cowlick at the base of my skull, so that halfway through the hairline my hair directionality flip flops and starts pointing up. This is what that looks like.

Life got much easier once I started cutting all my hair off and stopped giving a fuck. Both are highly recommended!
posted by phunniemee at 7:17 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Seems legit.
posted by gallois at 7:32 AM on July 11


What an absolutely fascinating set of articles! And I'll cop to totally not noticing the different parts in Reeve's hair as Clark and Superman.

My hair naturally falls to a center part, but I've trained it into a right part (cowlick makes a left part impossible) because I just felt on some primal, gut level that the center part made me look childish. I felt I looked like the pathetic kind of spinster instead of the assertive kind of spinster.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:33 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


You people and your hair.
posted by General Tonic at 7:34 AM on July 11 [4 favorites]




Oh and that is an excellent pun of a post title. Well done.

It's actually the title of an Amazing Stories episode (I think with Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito - think Christine, but with a toupee instead of a car). I'm just amazed that that's floating around in anyone's head but mine.
posted by LionIndex at 7:37 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


FWIW a good hairdresser can cut your hair so that it naturally parts on one side or the other. Lately each haircut I've been switching it up just for fun. I don't know what kind of derrangement that indicates according to TFA.
posted by Joe Chip at 7:52 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


So if I secretly pretend my hair actually parts in the opposite direction than it naturally does, by faking it, people will find me more trustworthy?

Man, people are stupid.

(Also, are we talking my left or yours?)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:52 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


this is why we should use port and starboard instead
posted by elizardbits at 7:54 AM on July 11 [17 favorites]


Ever since hearing this theory I've always liked the thought that my natural right-parting makes me look a little off, a little queer, since that fits with my self-image. I wonder if there's actually any kind of study/citation that backs it up, though?
posted by Drexen at 7:55 AM on July 11


It's actually the title of an Amazing Stories episode (I think with Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito - think Christine, but with a toupee instead of a car). I'm just amazed that that's floating around in anyone's head but mine.


It is! But I'll venture it is better known as the title of a segment in one of The Simpsons' Halloween shows, the one where Homer receives an evil hair transplant.
posted by infinitelives at 7:56 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I don't know if this is true, but I've read that most men part their hair on the right as you look at them, because they leave their hair parted where their (mostly-right-handed) mothers parted it; while most women part it on the left as you look at them (their own right) because they put their part where they parted it themselves when they started caring for their own hair.

Further, it was claimed that you can make a good guess as to whether a man's mother was left- or right-handed based on which side he parts his hair on, which as a party trick I have found to be fairly reliable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:58 AM on July 11 [12 favorites]


Nothing like shaving your (always previously long) hair for St. Baldrick's foundation for revealing your amazing hurricane cowlick.

Now that I always wear my hair short, all my haircuts have to take it into account.

(BTW, when my hair was long I could totally switch parts, or move my part up or down my head. For many unfortunate years I had a middle part. It takes a few weeks of training for it to happen, but it can and does. Short hair is probably harder.)

On preview, my hair is parted on my left. But again, giant hurricane cowlick to work around. I actually have another, smaller cowlick on the other side but it isn't nearly as persnickety.
posted by misskaz at 8:03 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


By the way, here's a somewhat longer (though not particularly more substantial) 1999 article on the subject from The Atlantic.
posted by Drexen at 8:03 AM on July 11


You can try to find a part somewhere in the hellmass of ringlets that lurks on the top of my head if you dare. I will warn you, however, that the last hairstylist to go in there never came back out.
posted by kyrademon at 8:04 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I was in middle school at the turn of the century, which means that I was guilty of putting this part in my hair.

I'm such an old I defaulted to the previous turn of the century. I am still in denial about the recent one.
posted by srboisvert at 8:07 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


thanks for that ryan gosling link... it was very... educational....
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:07 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Left brain/right brain nonsense, still? And connected with HAIR? I thought that paradigm (and the word paradigm) had been tossed into the dustbin on top of the phrenology textbooks.
posted by kozad at 8:09 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I have recently changed the part in my hair from right to left and it's given me a big boost in self-esteem. I'm serious. My hair is actually thinner on the left side of my head and the new part exposes this more, but the effect is still more pleasing. I realize now that the right part, in addition to being un-intentionally proto-comb-over-ish, simply didn't compliment the shape of my face. I feel re-born at 36.
posted by ducky l'orange at 8:11 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what my massive afro says but I'm pretty sure the fretful glare, squirmy demeanor, and general vibe of skulk and underhand tell people everything they need to know.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:13 AM on July 11 [6 favorites]


This is why one should always choose to be a cute mop top or a smart mop top. But always a mop top.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:17 AM on July 11


The side of the brain you use has been found to be completely pointless as you use only 10% of your brain and that ten percent little lump of tissue tends to wander around as it pleases with the rest of your brain basically being this gross meatloaf used to feed and house the 10%.

Also, that 10% is a little elf shaped just like your nude body that has its own brain, which uses only 10% of its brain. It's amazing what you can find on an FMRI these days.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:17 AM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Nothing like shaving your (always previously long) hair for St. Baldrick's foundation for revealing your amazing hurricane cowlick.

Me, I discovered I have asymmetrical cutis verticis gyrata, so as much as I would love, love, love to be able to just cheap/lazy out and hit my weird-ass hair with some clippers every once in awhile, the fact remains that weird-ass hair is preferable to a weird-ass head.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:19 AM on July 11


For further consideration.
posted by mazola at 8:20 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Do you know who else parted their hair on the right?
posted by Kabanos at 8:20 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I just wear it all straight up so that it looks like my hair is trying to escape the horror of my brain.
posted by malocchio at 8:23 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


For further consideration.

I think the fifth one down is a mussed up scalp lock, not a combover.
But that beard comb over is something else.
posted by Kabanos at 8:26 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Hey, you boys ever hear the story of The Oasis of the Headless Mad Comber of Comb Mountain?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:45 AM on July 11


Maternal Grandpa slicked his straight back from the front, and Paternal Grandpa had a crew cut. I honestly can't remember which direction Dad's combover went.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:46 AM on July 11


It's actually the title of an Amazing Stories episode (I think with Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito - think Christine, but with a toupee instead of a car). I'm just amazed that that's floating around in anyone's head but mine.

I was about to mention that, except I thought it was one of the Twilight Zone reboots. But your're right, it was AS. It's kind of an Amazing Story that I remember that it all, since I saw that one time when I was 14.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:03 AM on July 11


I was wandering around looking for Mad Men haircuts, when I discovered that of course Pete Campbell has a right part like I do. God damnit.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:22 AM on July 11


Just came to say that when I was growing up in Germany in the 80s and early 90s, I was under the impression that it was general knowledge that the "correct" way to part your hair was on the left because Hitler parted his hair on the right and doing the same was a not-so secret way to signaling Nazi sympathies. I'm now starting to wonder if that impression was actually a generally shared sentiment or if it was just an idiosyncratic belief passed down form my father.
posted by tecg at 9:25 AM on July 11


Combovers are so strange, so utterly bizarre. How in this day and age could anyone imagine even for a moment that people are being fooled by this silliness? Unless it is an ironic combover for the lulz, I guess that could very well be a thing.
posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I tend to part my hair in the middle when it's longish does this mean I'm in league with Satan y/n?--The Whelk

The theory doesn't have much depth--it is either right or left. Middle parts are thrown in with those who are bald, which makes no sense at all. And there's no consideration of how far to the right or left.

The only time I consciously notice a part is when it is so far to the side of the head that it is near the ear. If it is a comb over, I guess you don't have much choice, because there's no other hair, but I've seen this with full heads of hair.
posted by eye of newt at 9:28 AM on July 11


I part my hair just far enough to the left that the ridiculous cowlick at the center of my hairline is not obviously pointing in the opposite direction from everything else. I've always envied people who have long hair and no part, but since my hair is pin-straight and sadly limp no matter what I do, that doesn't work for me.

I think psychologically this says... nothing.
posted by cmyk at 9:38 AM on July 11


have long hair and no part

How does this even work, like, physiologically? Because the way I envision long-hair-no-part is something like this.
posted by phunniemee at 10:34 AM on July 11


Or this
posted by goo at 10:42 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


So um, what about those of us who part is on both the left and the right? They don't seem to cover that...
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:43 AM on July 11


A little girl asked me should she part her hair upon the left, no
A little girl asked me should she part her hair upon the right, no
I said it doesn't really matter where you part your hair
Someone else will come along and move it
And it's always been the same
It's just a complicated game
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:53 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Combovers are so strange, so utterly bizarre. How in this day and age could anyone imagine even for a moment that people are being fooled by this silliness?

Actually, I think I get it. The effort goes more towards fooling yourself. That's why the comb overs sacrifice the hair on the back of the head for the sake of the front - the poor soul can't see the back of his head in the mirror, so it doesn't form part of the self image. I know this because when I started shaving my legs around grade 7, I only shaved the fronts. Hell, that's all I could see when looking in the mirror. It was only after much ridicule that I realized it mattered what other people saw. I swear, I still make the same mistake of not remembering to brush the back of my hair...
posted by kitcat at 11:01 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


have long hair and no part

How does this even work, like, physiologically? Because the way I envision long-hair-no-part is something like this.


Well for me it means that I have pointless fluffy dandelion hair so I brush it in the morning and let it fall however it wills.

Me and my hair don't have a close relationship.
posted by winna at 11:03 AM on July 11


I am so glad that phrenology is finally giving hair the attention it has always deserved.
posted by bswinburn at 11:08 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


Ugh. Combovers.I used to work with someone who had a horrifying combover. It wasn't actually the hair as much as the grease and massive flakes. He wasn't American, with our obsession about cleanliness. I was usually talking to him while he was sitting, and I was standing. The stringy, greasy, flaky strands were more easily seen then.

I'm now itchy and feel the urgent need to wash my hair. *shudder*
posted by annsunny at 11:20 AM on July 11


My part is in the middle and about 7" wide. Am I trustworthy?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:51 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]


My part is in the middle and about 7" wide. Am I trustworthy?

If you're also gap-toothed, then, sorry, no.
posted by kozad at 11:54 AM on July 11


They've done lots of research, it may be just hype
But the latest findings cause me to tremble:
Categorize us into three basic types
By which of the Three Stooges we most closely resemble
posted by xil at 1:34 PM on July 11


"Whenver I try to part my hair anywhere but the one spot that it's always parted naturally, even if I apply a lot of product in the morning it's reverted by noon. Change your hair parting? I was not aware that this was even possible absent gobs of hairspray, which carries its own trustworthiness problem."

You can train your hair to part on the other side, and it's easier the longer your hair gets (more weight pulls it down to settle). I've had left, right and middle parts over the years, and right now it parts to the left because of the haircut I have.
posted by klangklangston at 2:19 PM on July 11


I let my hair do what it wants, and it mostly stands straight up. What does that mean?
posted by lumpenprole at 3:58 PM on July 11


It means that either:
- you've had a terrible fright,
- you're standing on a subway vent,
- or you're touching a Van de Graaff generator.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:48 PM on July 11


or that you are that one guy from flock of seagulls
posted by elizardbits at 5:45 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Might I suggest that the parting indicates a relative de-emphasis of the attributes of the cranial sphere on which it appears, the parting serving to indicate an absence rather than a presence? In any case, let the RCTs begin.
posted by mister_kaupungister at 6:19 PM on July 11


My hair has a natural part from the right (my right, that is). Which I've noticed isn't the norm; most men and women seem to part their hair from the left.

I've tried that, but it's a losing battle. My hair just won't go that way. Still, either way is better than the butt cut prevalent when I was in jr. high. Ah, the 80s + redneck fashion, a surefire recipe for disaster.
posted by zardoz at 7:09 PM on July 11


the parting serving to indicate an absence rather than a presence?

Are you parting your hair or parting with your hair?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:57 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


When I first started caring about what my hair looked like, it naturally parted to the left (starting from the right). Sometime in my early 20's (after 4 years of having long hair), it just started naturally parting to the right.

I've asked my stylist once to try cutting it to part to the left and had to go back a couple of days later to get it put back in the other direction.

Also, double whorl/cowlick and major weirdness around the neckline and I get "Chinese Afro" if my hair is more than 4" and less than about a foot.

And everyone mentioning camera and 'back of head' - spot on!
posted by porpoise at 9:41 PM on July 11


I'd like to see what the article would say about the most amazing comb-over I've ever seen. Seriously, I wish I could go back in time and take a photo. It was a work of art! Dude started with a simple low part on the right of his head, and the remaining hair was swept down towards the back of his skull where it executed a skillful U-turn and came back towards the forehead to form a neatly arranged fringe. He had perhaps 20 strands of hair (about 2 feet long) and managed to achieve about 50% coverage.

He patted it as he walked along - presumably for signs of wanderlust. Trump had nothing on this man. Nothing!
posted by ninazer0 at 1:28 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I once worked with a guy who did the classic part-just-above-the-ear-and-sweep-over-the-top combover, and evidently lots of product to keep it in proper form. Whenever he walked outside on a breezy day, the wind would catch it and the whole thing rose up stiffly as though he were an aroused cockatoo.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Hey, these crazy mirror people are located right around the corner from me! (they're in Highland, NY)
posted by exlotuseater at 8:32 PM on July 12


« Older As always, don't read the comments.   |   Mosselsmurfen Go! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post