The Politics of the Ponytail
This introductory chapter considers how something as seemingly mundane as a ponytail is actually shot through with substantial and varied cultural significance. Unquestionably, the hairstyle provides a practical solution for dealing with longer hair, but what it comes to mean, how it is taken up in mediated discourse, the ways it becomes synonymous with female athletes, and its relationships to sexuality, age, race, nationality, and culture engender a normative, athletic femininity in the context of U.S. women's sports. At the same time, there are dynamics of power, pleasure, agency, and resistance involved with the everyday act of styling one's hair. It is difficult to imagine women's sport without the ponytail, but the chapter argues that it is precisely because they seem so commonsense and commonplace that they are powerfully connected to gendered ideologies.
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