By Emilie Cassan
Moving to a new place always brings new experiences and adventures.
However, for the women who move to the land of Zion, there is an added dimension to those new experiences, hair style.
Utah, indeed, has its own style when it comes to hair. And, hair is an important part of the culture.
Any female new to Utah will realize the importance of how her hair looks within a few days.
When Utah women go anywhere, it is extremely important that every piece of hair is held neatly in place by a vast combination of hair products.
The new female soon sees the need to be the owner of a plentiful collection of mousse, gel, pomade, hair spray (spritz and aerosol), wax, texturizer, paste, shine, a hair stick and a good rat-tail comb for ratting.
All are necessary to keep up with the rest of the native and Utanized women.
The Utah style is a basic one, but does have its variations.
Overall, it can be summed up in four words: Long, straight, highlighted and ratted.
First, it is all about the long hair. Why?
Well, boys like long hair, or so they say. The long sleek look attracts young men like nothing else.
Girls use different long hair techniques such as ”running-your-fingers-through-your-hair” and ”flicking-your-hair-around-your-shoulder” to get the boys attention.
The long hair also ties into religious roots in Utah.
Many Latter-day Saint women believe that in order to be a good Mormon, they must be “feminine” and long hair makes them so.
The second element is straight.
This element ties into the first.
Who can run their fingers through their long mane when it”s big a curly mess?
Genetics play a role in this element. Many Utah women come from Danish, Norwegian, German and other European ancestry where straight hair seems to be the norm. And, thanks to great grandma Helga, the curls just aren”t happening.
It is important to note that there are exceptions to this element of the Utah style.
One must take into account the women who had the extreme fortune to be born with naturally curly hair and those who want to look like they did through the amazing technology of the perm.
An extreme example of the perm is the one known as the “cowgirl” look.
These women are insistent on having curly hair and go to the stylist at least every four weeks to re-perm their hair.
Third is highlighted.
In Utah, beauty means looking like you just stepped off a beach, tan (that”s why Zion is no longer only known as the land of milk and honey, but the land of the tanning salon) and with sun-streaked hair.
Highlights will give just that impression. Women can trick themselves into thinking it is still summer, even in the dreary days of winter.
However, sometimes women go a little crazy with the highlights and the natural sun-streaked look turns into the black and white striped zebra look.
Or even worse, it becomes the Christina Aguilera look where the top few layers of hair have been so bleached out that it becomes one huge layer of white on top of a layer of black hair underneath.
The fourth element of the Utah hairstyle is ratted.
This is perhaps the most important part of the Utah woman”s every day hair styling regiment.
It is not known how exactly women have the capability of doing it. Maybe it”s a combination of hair products and that dry Utah desert air. But, women in Utah can rat their hair so much and get it so high, that it seems to defy all natural gravitational laws.
Ratting is done all over the head to give a big, full look.
The process often leads to a look known as “helmet head.”
This is when all the hair from the crown of the head to the two sides of the forehead has been ratted and then combed over to give a smooth round look.
Basically, it looks like a helmet. It is then hair sprayed to the point where it is indestructible. The “helmet head” hairstyle could come out of a severe hurricane unscathed.
Ratting is especially important in the “cowgirl” look. After being permed and highlighted every four weeks, this over-processed hairstyle already has the look of dried straw.
After ratting all around the head and especially the bangs, the “cowgirl” style is bigger and better than ever.
It begins resemble big piece of tumbleweed more than a freshly styled hairdo.
The Utah hair experience is definitely a unique one.
For some, it may take years to master. But, it truly can be said that whether the hair is straight or curly, long or short, highlighted or ratted, Utah hairstyles stand out above the rest.