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What's the Point of Having Long Hair if You Wear it Up All the Time?

Have you ever had someone ask you a question somewhat critically and you just - didn’t even know how to answer? Maybe because you could feel simply from the question itself that this person had so many layers upon layers of different beliefs and outlooks than you, getting between you and the question? 

The Question I’ve Been Avoiding ...

Yeah, we’ve all been there, and in this article I am going to be addressing this one nagging question I have received in various comments over the past year since my viral hair video, that I have been putting off answering. In fact, I have not ever addressed this question publicly. A big part of that is because I knew I would need at least a whole video to address it. It’s a meaty topic, let’s just say.

question mark

Here is the question:

Why have long hair if you wear it up all of the time? What’s the point of having long hair if you are going to just, put it up?

woman with protective style hair

Whew. There’s a lot there, because there are so many assumptions, and frankly, so much modern western worldview built into this question, so let’s break this down point by point.

So if you don’t know, what these people are reacting to, is a concept that is likely fairly new to them that I have explained on various of my videos, which is the importance of wearing one’s hair tucked away in protective styles in order to help retain length. I explain how this was a big factor in my growing out my own hair, and this leads to their asking the question, well, what’s the point?

So me, I tend to think very philosophically, and I feel that I can’t even address the more practical elements of this question without first deconstructing the assumptions and worldview built into it (likely unbeknownst to the asker). 

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marionette puppet kid

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Why This Question Is All Wrong

One of the reasons this question about my hair has always rubbed me the wrong way is because it implies that there IS no point to having long hair when wearing it up most days, simply because the asker doesn’t see the point. I obviously believe there is a point since I do indeed have long hair which I choose to wear up in protective styles most days. As did most women with long hair through hundreds of years of western history.

woman with protective style hair

The Hidden Assumption

There is a massive assumption built into this question - being that the only reason one would grow long hair is to impress others. I choose to have long hair for many reasons, and probably 99% of those reasons have to do with my own preferences and not a desire to impress others. This video is not the place to go into many of these reasons, partly for time and partly because I suspect the askers of this type of question may not appreciate or align with many of my reasons. And why is that? Let’s move on to the hidden worldview in this question.

History’s Hair Vs. Modern Hair

Throughout much of human history and certainly to this day in other cultures, hair was viewed quite differently than we view it today. Hair was viewed as an extension of oneself - of one’s body, one’s energetic body, or even of one’s nervous system. This went hand in hand with treating hair with more care and reverence, usually it meant growing hair quite long - as long as one could. In some cultures it meant (and means) keeping hair private altogether, and in many cases through history, this feeling about hair went hand in hand with wearing one’s hair up in fancy updos when one was out in public or going about one’s day. Why?

historical protective style hair

Partly for practical reasons, but also partly because - for instance, if you believe your hair is an extension of your nervous system - you may not want to be having that floating out in the ether every day, picking up on a whole bunch of things from other people all the time and leaving you feeling vulnerable. Long hair may have also been tucked away because in certain cultures, hair was a very sensual asset, and represented a woman’s wildness and her raw femaleness, and so that was something to be only brought out, obviously, in certain private contexts. 

Let’s flip this with our modern western viewpoint - first of hair, and then we will zoom out a bit. Our modern western culture has taught us that hair is merely a cosmetic appendage - purely there to impress others. This leads to treating our hair, not with care and reverence, but to the opposite. Essentially, we will use whatever means necessary - heat, chemicals, rough handling - to force our hair into submission. Into whatever shape or colour or look is currently acceptable to us and to our society - rather than honouring it for what it is in its natural state.

modern haircare chemicals dye

This goes hand in hand with a complete undermining of the cultural or anthropological significance of our hair, and therefore any spectrum of belief, except for in certain religions, of hair having any value beyond the public value.  

That is, in modern culture our hair exists merely as a status symbol, as something to display to others - loose all the time, preferably. Again, apart from certain religions, there is no more cultural appreciation for the value ones hair, or one’s long hair, can bring, simply to ourselves, or to those we closely love, unless we are always flaunting it, loose, to others. 

What This Has to Do With Modern Body Ideals

This goes along somewhat with our culture’s view of the body - like there is nothing left to privacy these days - it’s all about if you’ve got it, flaunt it, and if that works for you great, but I don’t feel that way and certainly appreciate a little privacy in terms of my dress.

Historically, the body was granted much more privacy than today. Corsets and stays were the norm for women (and many men) for over 400 years, which, although they certainly had their downsides, provided an armour like barrier between the natural body and everyone’s eyes. So even if form-fitting clothing were worn, it was conforming to the understructure of the corset (and pettiocoats, and padding) NOT the actual body.

woman in edwardian corset

Now a days, the body itself is always on display, with the falling out of favour of corsets and padding in favour of altering the body itself to conform to fashion standards. This can, at worst, look like extreme dieting, over extreme working out, eating disorders, and cosmetic surgery.

Let’s link this back to hair. It naturally follows that since we have this “public property” mindset when it comes to our bodies, that is where the askers of this hair question are coming from. Hair is also considered to be public property. Like there is no point to have long hair if you don’t plan on flaunting it to everyone who happens to see you, every day.  

But I think even our culture recognizes an analogy that I will use to compare to the whole hair thing. What’s the point of wearing expensive, fancy underwear if no one but you will see it? I think many people recognize that there is still a point, and that’s just how I feel about my hair. 

Time to Actually Answer the Question

Now let’s get into some of the more practical answers of “why have long hair if you wear it up “all” the time?”

Firstly, I don’t wear my hair up all of the time, I wear it up most of the time - and that is a big difference. The most important nuance of this is that I am the one in charge of how I wear my hair on any given day. So If I am tired of having long loose hair, I can put it up and have the experience of shorter hair convenience, or I can wear it loose and give off those Rapunzel vibes if and when I want to. Kind of like having a hidden power.

long brown curly hair

Now obviously, having long hair means I have the option to wear my long hair loose whenever I feel like it. Or I can put it up and away into protective styles which are, by the way, much easier to achieve with longer hair than short. Now that my hair is this long, I am able to put it up into a bun without using a single clip if I need to, simply with the inherent tension. 

Lastly, there is the important point of this:

Even if I did want to wear my hair loose every day - which I don’t because that doesn’t work for my life - I simply could not have grown my hair as long as I have since the updos I use are a huge part of how I have grown my hair this long. So it’s sort of a catch 22 situation anyway, which I am fine with because I love updos, they work for my life, and in my view there is definitely a point for me to have long hair, even if I were to wear it up every single day - which I don’t.

woman smiling with long brown curly hair

Thanks for reading this article all the way to the end, I really appreciate it! I have a few exciting announcements brewing of things I am bringing out to the world in the near future, so if you have not yet subscribed to my email newsletter then please do so!

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I was looking for more natural ways to look after my hair and stumbled across your YT. I love your videos even though my hair type is vastly different.

This question annoys me so much. Mostly when it's obviously a judgmental question and not more out of curiosity. It's my hair... my choice, my reasons.

I have a stress response where I break my hair off at the root on top of my head. So my protective styles need to include covering my hair with scarves, etc. That brings up a whole new issue for me. I have been accused of cultural appropriation as well. I really dont care as I appreciate other cultures and I find it beautiful. If…


Hi Katherine, my great grandmother had very long hair. When she married my great grandfather, her hair was long enough for her to sit on it. He loved her deep auburn hair and asked her to never cut it. And she never did. I remember when I was about six. We had not long been in our family home and my little sister would have been a few months old when she came to stay. My great grandmother's hair was always in a bun for practical reasons. She'd brush it out and braid it to sleep, and put it up in the morning. On one morning of her visit, I rose early to go to the toilet and I thought…


I have calf length hair and I wear it up 99.9% of the time. People ask me this question a lot but my hair is for my own enjoyment. I don't care if no one other than me ever sees it! :)


~ Dear Katherine,

After watching your latest video re: What’s the point of having long hair if you are going to just, put it up (protective styling)? It's a double-edged sword. From age 5 to 12 my mom took care of my hair. Growing up in the 60s, she was too lazy to figure out how to help me care for my hair. It's thick, naturally curly and at that time, at my waist. Once a week she'd wash it and not use a conditioner (!). When it was dry, she used a greasy pomade and hot comb to straighten it (so I'd "fit in with other kids @ school"). I am of biracial parentage so my hair isn…

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