World of Women
Hair do's and don'ts for women in North Korea
Readers talk back
Must reads site wide
Pregnancy penalty: When 1 in 2 mums experience discrimination it hurts women, as well as Australia’s GDP
You won't find a 'Farrah' flick or 'Rachel' hairdo in North Korea. According to reports from Hong Kong's Phoenix TV network, North Korea has released 28 state sanctioned hairstyles -- 18 for women and 10 for men -- in a nod to conformity and, apparently, "comfort".
While men are permitted to choose from ten different styles, they're also required to go to the hairdresser every 15 days and are forbidden from growing it longer than 5cm because the government believes "long hair draws nutrition away from the brain". Older men are allowed to get away with 7cm styles.
Women have an overwhelming choice of 18 short styles and are offered more leeway once they marry. Styles for women also vary according to the type of clothing women choose to wear. In traditional Korean dress women should wear their hair straight, but with western clothing they're permitted to go wavy or lightly permed.
Pictures of the 28 selective hair styles can be seen along the walls of the country's hair salons, apparently chosen for both "comfort" and the ability to guard against the "corrupting influences of capitalism".
This isn't the first time the country has introduced regulated hairstyles for its citizens. In 2005, the state broadcaster held a five-part series, Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist Lifestyle on haircut guidelines.
There have been various suggestions as to why new hair regulations have been issued. According to Want China Times:
"Ri Chun-hee, the news anchor for the country's Korean Central Television who is known for being patriotic to the point of hysteria, changed her hairstyle twice within two weeks in 2011, sparking speculation as to what the changes signified. She was seen with a bang perm and hair tugged behind her ears in March 2011 before she switched back to the most common hairstyle for TV anchors in the country — side bangs and short layered hair covering her ears slightly — less than 14 days later."
Two reasons have been suggested for her changing style: that the state's young leader Kim Jong-un wasn't a fan of the styles as seen during his father's era, or that it was an experiment in modernising and rehabilitating the state's international image.
Surprisingly, unlike the masses, the Supreme Leader's not down with his own conformity. His new flat top coif hasn't made the cut for sanctioned hairstyles, presumably so no one can steal his Sexiest Man Alive title.