When even Bollywood’s Angry Young Man of yore Amitabh Bachchan starts donning a wig, it’s time for all intellectuals to set aside their trivial preoccupations and start addressing one of the big questions of our age:
Do Indian men feel effeminate, ball-less without their hair?
Mind you, we’re only talking here of hair on the head. 😉
Do even superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan experience a scary sense of emasculation, an embarrassing loss of virility as their hair starts to get loose of the tight embrace of their follicles.
In an effort to get a better sense of wigs and their history, we consulted our current vade mecum An Uncommon History of Common Things by Bethanne Patrick and John Thompson, published by National Geographic and available in most U.S. county libraries.
Old Hair on New Heads
Wigs have been covering human heads for over 5,000 years.
Ancient Egyptians were known to wear wigs as early as 3,000 B.C.
Tis’ no surprise that these eccentric Egyptians, who were not averse to marrying their brothers, sisters and mothers, would also make the wig fashionable.
Perhaps, the Egyptians were the first great Bohemians of our world. What say you, schmucks?
In ancient Egypt, wig-wearing was not restricted to men. Women took to them too.
Wigs in that distant era were made of human hair, wool, palm fiber and flax, all tightly wound together by beeswax.
Romans were also said to be fond of blond wigs and turned these hairpieces into a fashionable rage in the first century B.C.
Religion, the perennial joy-killers and given its penchant to stamp out all things pleasurable, tried its best to curb the hairy passion of mortals.
The Roman Catholic Church waged an extended battle to ‘excommunicate’ wigs but achieved only temporary success before wigs reared their heads again in France and England after the Reformation.
Amitabh Bachchan is hardly the first well-known figure to shove his pate under a wig.
History is replete with instances of famous personalities who took a fancy to wigs.
Paintings and books tell the unmistakable story.
In sporting a wig, Amitabh Bachchan joins a list of famous (and some notorious) historical personalities like Caligula, Messalina, Queen Elizabeth, Isaac Newton, Dewang Mehta et al who were all known to wear wigs.
Dewang’s wig was said to come from London.
Where Amitabh Bachchan gets his wigs made is a closely guarded secret, known perhaps only to the inner-circle of his family.
While we now understand that wigs have a long history behind them, our reference book doesn’t explain why men took to them in a bigger way than women or why the popularity of wigs has endured for so long when fashion is so fickle.
Here’s where SI’s vaunted powers of reasoning and hypotheses come into play.
In SI’s hair-raising weltanschauung, lush hair on the head is the second phallic symbol of manhood, only more visible and more malleable to diverse forms of fashion than the Shiv-ling.
In the dominant Shiv-ling worldview, No hair on the head translates into No dick. 😉
Loss of hair often causes its victims to silently fume in impotent rage at the slights they perceive from the better hair-endowed on their manhood.
And endowment, as we all know, is the be-all and end-all for a man. 😉
Hence the resort to wigs and more costly forms of hair-restoration.
Trying to restore hair on the head through transplants and other high falutin techniques is the futile equivalent of responding to spam e-mails that come into our mailboxes every day – Expand to 13-inches, Size Matters, Be the Bigger Man et al.
Wigs are the best and proven technique of restoring the status quo ante onto a glabrous pate.
We suspect shrewd hairpiece makers also played more than a small part in turning head-hair into a symbol of potent manhood to support their livelihood.
In the hyper-visible world of movies with the eyes of a million fans on superstars like Amitabh Bachchan or Salman Khan, the pressure is even more intense to flaunt their virility, their studhood in the face of constant threats from an ever younger crop of challengers.
So when Amitabh Bachchan struts out in a wig, he’s in effect yelling out to his friends, enemies, countless fans and nay to the world – See, See, I’m still a stud. I can still get it up.
Of course, there’s the fashion aspect too.
A bald pate is a canvas only for a tattoo.
But hair on the head is receptive to the ever-changing diktats of fashion. You can wear it as a plait, as a tuft, part it in the middle or the sides, all of which you can’t do if you are bald or with hair on any other part of the body.
But at the end of the day, a wig is nothing but a metaphorical dick in a different shape, a way of telling the world that Yes, I too can still get it up!