3rd January 1999
We've got men piercing their ears, eyebrows, noses and lips. We've got men growing and tinting their hair. We've even got men dressing up as women. And just when we're bracing ourselves wondering what next, they start something totally new and unique. Something only the most gutsy women could do, and even if they did probably wouldn't maintain for too long.
Yes, they decide to shave it all off. Dreadlocks, tints, curls and all. They spend thousands of rupees on their hair tinting, shampooing, conditioning, massaging and the works, and then decide it's all a big waste of time, and they're better off with none of it. Why we asked, and this is what they came up with.
'Sri Lanka's a pretty warm place, and especially during the heat waves it becomes unbearable. And it's really uncomfortable when the sweat starts pouring down your head onto your shirt and stuff. Because of that it's really easy to just have a shaved head and not worry about anything,' says 30-year-old Sajeewa Atukorale, a lawyer. 'Doesn't it make his clients think twice before hiring him to argue their cases? 'Of course not. My appearance has absolutely no bearing on my work, and if it did, I wouldn't want to appear for people like that anyway.'
Why did 24-year-old Faiz Haniffa, a stock broker by profession, do it? 'Because I think it looks cool, and it's a fashion fad, to be tried out like everything else. I don't live with my parents, so they don't know about it. If they did I'm pretty sure they'll do something drastic.' In a bid to be even more different though, Faiz has not only cropped his hair marine style, but also tinted it, so that it glints in the sunlight. " I know it doesn't suit me that much, but I don't have a girl friend to worry about, so it's okay."
Chairman of Grants McCann Erickson, Reggie Candappa, says he shaved his head four years ago a s a vow he had undertaken. "My grandchildren told me I looked cool, so I decided to keep it that way, and now I have to shave it everyday."
Chandana Ranchagoda, a systems analyst in his late twenties working in Canada says he did it because it is comfortable. "It's a lot easier than having to deal with combing and maintaining your hair. Besides, I'm here on holiday, so it's okay, but if I was living in Sri Lanka permanently, I would definitely do it." So doesn't he care if people thinks he's just a little out of the ordinary? "No, I don't care what people think. It's my hair and I can do whatever I like with it."
Dinesh W. has chosen to shave his head for rather the same reason. "It's hot here, and I find this really comfortable, so why not? I just tried it out and I liked it. Besides, this way, when I go for a wedding or something, the only thing I have to worry about straightening, is my tie."
Thushara Seneviratne, an engineer in his late twenties, says he did it because it was comfortable, "It's also because shaving your head is becoming a little bit of a trend, and I wanted to try it out. I travel to the States a lot, and there it's almost normal, so I don't feel odd or anything. Also, when I get up in the morning, this way I don't have to comb my hair.
"I tried it once, and it doesn't suit me, so I can't wait till my hair grows back. I shaved my head because I have a real problem finding a hairstyle that suits me, and everyone told me to do it. But it looks like this is just another addition to a long list of hair disasters" says Farhan Zarook, an advertising executive in his mid-twenties.
Remember what we said about gutsy women. Well, we found one, but she didn't want to be identified. "I shaved my head after my divorce. It seemed as if everything in my life was going wrong, and I needed to do something drastic, to feel a little more in control. I didn't ask anyone what they thought about it, because I knew they wouldn't agree. I had thick long black hair, which a lot of people used to admire, but I needed to change as much things in my life and about myself as I could."
But what do the wives and girlfriends of these guys think? Don't they miss running their fingers through their men's hair, especially on a romantic night, when it's just the two of them and the night sky. Or do they actually like the spiky feel that close cropped hair gives. Better yet, do they even have a choice in the matter?
"I hate it. I don't know why he had to go and do it. And what's worse, he's determined to keep it," laments Dinesh's long suffering wife. "He had really nice hair, which girls used to go crazy over, and I was no exception. And he always knew that I loved running my fingers through his hair. Now it really feels like a hedgehog. I really don't understand men sometimes."
Farhan's girlfriend apparently isn't too fond of it either. "The first time she saw it, she was totally horrified, and refused to talk to me for three days. And I can understand that. But once she learnt it wasn't going to be permanent, she was okay. It's really hilarious now. She buys me all sorts of stuff that is supposed to make my hair grow faster." But none of it seems to be working very well, since it's now one and a half months since he shaved his head, and the hair's still very very short.
Sajeewa Atukorale says his wife doesn't mind at all. "In fact she's the one who encouraged me to do it. She's a hair dresser, and can predict what sort of hairstyle will suit someone, amazingly well. She kept telling me to do it for a long time, but I just didn't have the guts. A lot of people have told me that it has given my face a really calm look. I'm glad I did it, and I'll definitely keep it this way for a long time to come."
What do some of the more conservative guys have to say, we wondered.
"I don't like it, and I would never do it in a million years. It makes you look a little like a thug, I think," 25-year-old Praveen Weerasinghe said. "I myself would never do it."
But most of the others, didn't seem to mind either way, stressing that if it was comfortable, then that was all that mattered.
Once you get used to it, (one couldn't visualise Ronnie Leitch, for instance without his trademark 'thatte') the consensus seems to be that it's really not that bad, and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. It's also the answer to many a hairdresser's nightmare. So girls and boys, looks like bald and beautiful is here to stay, so you'd better get used to it, and fast.
By Yvonne GulamhuseinMaheen Khan, a trendy designer from Pakistan presented her fashion creations at the Colombo Hilton recently. Her fabulous designer wear of Western and Eastern innovations captivated the audience. Maheen has travelled all over the world from Lahore and Karachi, and established her fashion centres in many of Europesís fashion capitals.