Hairstyles In The 1970's

Posted on: 25 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Hairstyle culture of the 1970's

Hairstyle culture of the 1970's

Two books, one at either end of the decade, stand out as cultural signposts to the spirit of the 1970s.  In 1970 Charles Reich, a Yale University Law Professor, published The Greening of America: How the Youth Revolution is Trying to Make America Livable. This book, following on the idealism of the 1960s, heralded a new 'consciousness' in which the young and the youth revolution of the latter 1960's were the vanguard which would lead to the radical transformation of consumerist technological society into an Eden of social justice and respect for the environment.

However, by the end of the 1970s when Christopher Lasch, an American History Professor, wrote The Culture of Narcissism : American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations the early hopes had faded and there was widespread disillusionment. The idealism of the 1960s had disappeared into the wind. There were increasing anxieties about global pollution and the exhaustion of the earth's natural resources. The 1970s had seen war in the Middle East, the war in Vietnam had ended, there was corruption in the highest levels of American government with Watergate and Nixon's resignation, an oil crisis, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia had turned its fertile land into killling fields. There was a daily diet of the world's troubles brought into the homes of the West through television.

In the early 1970s there had been an urgency about a "return to Nature" and many young people left to live on communes in the country in search of a simpler way of life. This urgency was perhaps a measure of the underlying anxieties about how fast and how far we were moving from it.

At the same time there was increasing affluence. Hairstyles reflected both sides of the social coin. The musical Hair had played to sell out audiences in the late 1960s. It was a rock paean to a Rousseauesque idealized natural man-a long haired, un-permed, curly haired, natural and naked "noble savage."

The fast pace of technological change was unsettling as was increasing awareness of the global community. This seemed to stimulate a nostalgic desire for the perceived simplicities of previous eras. Towards the end of the decade Olivia Newton John and John Travolta starred in the hit musical Grease which hearkened back to the 1950s.

The desire to "return to Nature" ,first espoused by the hippies and Flower children of the 1960s, perhaps reached its paradoxical epitome in the anarchic punk movement of the mid-1970s which includ

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