The Haircut Index

December 7, 2011 by · 14 Comments
Filed under: Social Brain 

Following from my previous post on the Grandparent index, an attempt to add some fresh perspective on the key indicators of wellbeing, I would now like to add another: The haircut index.

A key indicator of wellbeing, I believe, is the temporal gap between deciding you need/want a haircut and actually getting round to having one. The longer this gap, the less perceived control you have over your own circumstances, which is key predictor of wellbeing.

I’m having a haircut on Friday, and I feel well because of that fact- it is some sort of breakthrough after a month of putting it off due to perpetually imminent deadlines at home and work.

You might think this is a trivial matter of personal tidiness, but I suspect it goes much deeper. Haircuts are a modern ritual in which we suspend our role as productive agents, and surrender ourselves to the tender care of a skilled stranger – a kind of secular shaman – who treats us as much with their benign attention as their manual dexterity.

And if that doesn’t convince you, here is the ‘blind them with science’ bit from our new secular oracle, Wikipedia:

“Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Found exclusively inmammals, hair is one of the defining characteristics of the mammalian class. The human body, apart from its glabrous skin, is covered in follicles which produce thick terminal and finevellus hair. Most common interest in hair is focused on hair growth, hair types and hair care, but hair is also an important biomaterial primarily composed of protein, notably keratin.”

So if that’s what hair is(I particularly like the ‘notably’) surely cutting it off must be some sort of symbolic act?

So I propose the ONS should ask people about their capacity to follow through on their desire to have a haircut as a proxy for their wellbeing, and I am beginning to wonder if we could establish a whole new wellbeing index based on similar factors.

Proximity of grandparents, capacity to achieve haircut…what next?