I remember the first time I saw a man bun. I was in Watford when it walked past, attached to some young hipster. It was all I could do not to dive into Clas Ohlson, pick up a pair of remarkably cheap and surprisingly good quality scissors* and lop the offending item straight off. I was genuinely surprised at how angry it made me. To be fair, it was a hot hot day and my oh so sensible mum bob was clinging to my neck and I felt flushed and frumpy. (These days my summer wardrobe is just a set of compromises, so I can select the items of clothing that will cover the parts I’m most ashamed of on that particular day without passing out from heat exhaustion.) So my rage at this poor innocent hipster was partially eye-rolling superiority at the sheep-like nature of a man selecting such a hairstyle and partially jealousy that someone has the time and inclination to find a style tribe and adhere to its mores.
But my irritation has niggled at me - clearly - this happened about 5 months ago. What precisely is it about this hairstyle that irritates me? Is it that it so clearly signals ‘hipster’? I’m not sure why I’d have problem with that, if I were 10 years younger I’d definitely be one; I like discovering new music, I enjoy home made and hand crafted things and I like to be creative. Also, I don’t roll my eyes at hipster girls in their Rosie the Riveter headscarves, or with a forties style wave, which is considerably more effortful than a bun, so clearly it’s not the essential hipsteriness of it that’s getting to me.
Maybe it’s because it’s a man choosing this hairstyle, a man openly committing to a trend? I am concerned that this is the case, that I am simply being lazily sexist; that my concept of masculinity doesn’t allow for an interest in coiffure. I don’t mind men having long hair, but apparently I think it’s only acceptable within certain parameters; wafting gently over an acoustic guitar, lazily tied back in a low slung ponytail atop a bicycle, bouncing wildly up and down at a concert.
Honestly, if the situation was reversed, if there was widespread media vilification of a woman’s hairstyle, I would definitely ignore that. Actually, I wouldn't ignore it, I would be more likely to choose that style and more likely to smile at those wearing it. I deeply dislike the shaming of women based on their appearance so it makes little sense that I am willing to despise a stranger based on his.
The more I have thought about this, and I have thought about it quite a bit over the last 5 months, the more I realise that he was right and I was wrong. It was a hot hot day - so hot my mum bob was pissing me off - so if you have long hair a bun is quite frankly the most sensible way to wear it. That poor hipster had probably spent his morning slaving over a hot Gaggia, crafting endless examples of latte art. He’d have probably passed out if it wasn’t for that bun. He has chosen a tribe that he should be proud of, one concerned with craft and practical skills - these signifiers aren't trends for trend's sake but functional and utilitarian.
So now I celebrate the man bun and I salute those who wear it. We should all like what we like, wear what we want and let others do the same.
* I am not paid to endorse Clas Ohlson, I just really like them. Apart from their battery powered LEDs, those are terrible.