Friday, October 30, 2015

Say 'No!' to the Man Bun

I have a terrible confession to make. It's going to come out sooner or later, and I want to get ahead of the story rather than fall victim to the maliciousness that threatens to expose my shameful secret. (There are photos.) So I need to clear the air while I can still tell the story on my own terms:

I used to have a mullet.

It's a long story — well, it's short at the beginning, and it gets longer toward the end. I was 24, everyone was doing it, and we thought it looked cool. It was the thing to do in the early '90s in Indiana, if you didn't live on a farm. Those guys still had crewcuts.

Of course, mine didn't look like a mullet, because I tied it in a ponytail. Basically, I had a ponytail with short hair in front, which may actually be worse. Like the difference between stealing and stealing from orphans.

At the time, I worked for an uptight, stickler-for-the-rules university department. But we were also all about diversity and respecting differences, so I adopted a "letter of the law, not spirit of the law" approach to some of our rules.

For example, we had to wear "professional dress," which included ties. I hate wearing ties, so I would buy the loudest, most obnoxiously colored ties I could find, which wasn't hard back then.

There was also no rule against hair length, so I grew out my hair and started wearing it in a pony tail. It eventually got so long, I could grab it with two hands, and leave an inch or so sticking out the end. But I kept it short up front, so as to maintain that "professional" look.

It was only slightly less embarrassing than a bald man with a ponytail.

These days, I've gladly given up my follicular follies and keep my hair fairly short. Nothing crazy or trendy for me. But given my history with long hair, you would think I would be tolerant of men's questionable hairstyles these days.

You would be wrong.

There are some men's hairstyles that can only be solved with a static electricity machine and hedge trimmers.

Like the man bun.

The man bun is so terrible, so morally reprehensible, I can't even bring myself to capitalize it. It makes the wearer's head look like a birthday balloon. Like, if I clipped off the knot, the wearer would fart-fly around the room as he deflated.

But I would have to do a lot of clipping: a recent article said the man bun is growing in popularity, based on the number of YouTube searches for tutorials and products (4.1 million searches).

Just like every generation has a bad hairstyle their teenagers will make fun of one day, 2015 has given us the man bun. It gained attention after Jared Leto and a pair of skinny jeans named Harry Styles began sporting the hirsute knot.

Still, I don't understand why the man bun has become a fashion phenomenon for skinny boy hipsters. Also, those damn kids won't get off my lawn.

But take heart, grumpy old men. says the more popular hairstyle is the comb over, which garnered over 10.3 million YouTube searches, as men tried to understand some of the different comb over styles, like the high fade, low fade, long comb over versus short comb over.

But it's not all because of Donald Trump, which is less a combover and more a Windsor knot of hair. It's because fully-follicled celebrities like David Beckham and Justin Timberlake are sporting the new 'do.

However, unlike the rest of us, Beckham and Timberlake are not using the hairstyle to cover up any baldness. Instead, they're styling their hair in thick, luxurious waves to draw attention to the fact that they should be punched in the face.

There's even a regionalism to the new hair styles. The article said ". . .'comb over' searches are concentrated on the coasts — especially California — suggesting it has more room to move inland." But only once it grows longer. All the other countries will still be able to tell though.

Basically, if you can rock a comb over, more power to you. But, unless you're a ballerina or a Little House on the Prairie re-enactor, there's no reason for men to tie their hair up in a bun.

Still, the man bun makes me feel less guilty about my mullet. Like maybe it wasn't such a big deal. And if I can be forgiven for the mullet, then maybe it's time to come clean about another transgression from that same time in my life.

I also had a handlebar mustache that went down nearly to my chin.

Photo credit: Eva Rinaldo (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)

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  1. Several years ago a co-worker was taken aback when I wore high top cons to a casual work event. He said I was too old. I informed him I was wearing Converse when his parents were children, I paved the roads he runs in his cons. The same is true for my pony tail, which I double over at the office. I don't call it a man bun, that's lower on my anatomy. I've had long hair, and short, and long for decades. I've worn my non-man buns when it was a mullet, when it was purple, and once when it was curled. I looked life Harpo Marx. I hope your man bun prejudice will not affect our friendship. I could understand if you hated me because I was German or Lithuanian--but I'm not. I'm just an old guy with a pony tail. Your friend, Randy.

    1. Well, I do have friends who are Republicans, and I'm still friends with them, so I guess we can still be friends, even if you are incorrect in this matter. ;-)


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