Why we should celebrate the man bun

Last updated 13:02 28/05/2013
Chris Hemsworth
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Man buns are so funny! At least, we think that's what Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddlestone are laughing about. Or maybe Chris has suggested Tom get one.

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It is always comforting to know that no matter how obscure or relevant to only your tastes something may seem, it will probably have its own Tumblr. It makes you feel that you are not alone in your extremely specific interests.

My personal favourite is the one dedicated to Connie Britton's hair. But it is this one, an enshrinement to the man bun trend in men's hairdos, that has captured my interest of late. I think it is because it is really helping me to work through my feelings about men in top knots; a topic that I am surprised to have feelings about.

It was The New York Times that declared man buns to officially have a proper name. But you only had to be watching sport, especially tennis, scrolling through Rachel Zoe's instagrams of her be-bunned toddler, or frequenting any cafe or expensive hair salon where skinny men are adorned with ironic tattoos to notice that the male top knot is a thing.

It comes in many forms: curly, messy, casual, dressy. One respondent to The New York Times, 31-year-old fine-arts painter and yoga teacher Alexander Kellum, of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, said that when tending to his up-do he sometimes lets some hair poke out in an "abstract expressionist" flourish.

Such celebrities as Chris Hemsworth, NBA player Joakim Noah and David Beckham have all twisted their locks up into a bun. We've come a long way from the short back and sides, and I for one am pleased about it.

Of course, it would be easy to say the man bun is challenging gender restrictions on hair/being. And while it is awfully good that men get to have more fun with their hair (I've always felt a bit sorry for men that their options are so limited), it's not necessarily the case. I mean, One Direction and Justin Bieber have really been pushing the boundaries when it comes to new and interesting hairstyles for men (viva the new generation of follicly liberated men!).

It's also not the first time men have worn their hair like this. As The New York Times pointed out: "You could theorise that a man who wears a bun is in touch with his feminine side, but the form also has a masculine tradition. Sikh men have long tied their hair in a bun, covered by a turban. And centuries ago, the samurai wore a topknot." And one need only look at imagery of Maori culture from centuries-past to see that the top knot has a rich history here in NZ. 

I wondered if my strong reaction to the man bun was in part due to my own hair history. Specifically, when as an 11 year-old I had a sporting crop and one time a boy yelled out a bus window to posit this query: "Are you a girl or a boy in a dress?" Or any of the times I would be out for dinner with my father and brother and the waitress would sidle up to us and say: "Gentlemen, are you ready to order." Or the time when I first saw a Hanson video clip and felt a very real and deep trauma that I couldn't work out if they were boys or girls and why did I have a crush on them regardless of the answer? It was all very confusing.

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I do think that calling the look a "man bun" sounds a bit silly. And it probably ends up limiting men from experimenting with their hair when anything ever so slightly beyond a barber special becomes a cultural trend/signifier of Men Today. Look at all those articles about beards and moustaches we've had to read of late.

Really, though, the most appealing thing about the man bun is its quite sexy nonchalance. As if those in possession of one - say Chris Hemsworth - are too busy doing very manly things to worry what people think of their quick top knot. Though I suppose it does also help to look like Chris Hemsworth.

The man bun is a reminder that it's fun to experiment with your hair and indeed life, and also that a new do doesn't have to say anything much about who you really are. After all, as my mother said to a sobbing 11-year-old me post big chop, it's just hair.

- Daily Life

Do you approve of men with buns?


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