photo:  Randall Persing

Amish women let their hair grow from birth.

If you ever catch an Amish female with her hair down, the sheer length of it can be surprising.

In fact, with locks often reaching well past waist-length, the typical Amish head-covering seems to somehow bend the laws of physics.  Where is their room for it all up there?

A quick diversion: A follicle produces about 20 hairs over a lifetime. The typical hair will grow to around two or three feet in length before falling out.  But the ultimate ‘max-length’ depends on the individual.  The world length record-holder is a Chinese woman by the name of Xie Quiping.  Seems she last cut her 18-foot-plus mane in 1973.

When an outsider comes around, the covering-less Amish woman usually acts a bit embarrassed, and jets off to grab it.

The official basis for the ‘scissors-shall-not-touch-these-locks’ edict, as for much of Amish custom, is Biblical.


photo:  Bill Coleman

And what about the guys?  Dads and moms shear their boys with Germanic efficiency, sitting them down outside on the porch or on a chair, lining them up and running them through.

Wives do husbands likewise.  There are a couple of different styles popular among males.  The no-nonsense dutch-boy/bowl is one, while others like to keep the hair trimmed clean off the forehead, bang-less.

Swartzentruber and more conservative Amish wear the colonial ‘William-Penn’ cut, with much longer sides covering the ears.

Amish proscriptions on hair may be biblically-based, but the implications are wholly practical.  With no trips to the salon, perms, trims, dye jobs, extensions and the like, just think of how much more cash that adds up to over a lifetime.

Especially when you might be talking a dozen (or more) hairy heads in a family.

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