Trichonomics. I’m quite proud of this term. In the modern age, when you think of a concept the very first thing to do is to Google it and see if anyone has come up with it already. And so when I coined the term trichonomics, that’s the first thing that I did. So far and much to my delight, I am the first to use it.
The idea behind trichonomics was born out of a throwaway comment by my husband one afternoon. We were out and about, driving around Athens (him behind the wheel, not me) and he said “Have you noticed there are less blondes around since the crisis hit?” I remarked that I had.
Since the crisis first sank its claws into Greece back in 2008, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of blondes in circulation, along with an increase in the length of the female population’s hair.
This is where the idea of trichonomics comes in, combining the Greek word for hair, tricha, with economics. The concept is as follows — the state of a country’s economy can be gauged by the length and colour variations of its female population’s hair. The shorter and more chromatically diverse the hair, the better the economy.
Being a Mediterranean country, natural blondes are a rarity in Greece. On my very first trip here during the Athens Olympics and staying with a dear friend of mine, she smirked wryly at the sea of flaxen heads around us as we rode around Athens by bus.
She herself had just returned to her home country after a rain-sodden hiatus in Cardiff, where we had been students together. “I don’t remember these many blondes when I left. You’d think this was Sweden.” These bottle blondes were locally referred to as Duracell batteries, for reasons that I can’t go into on a blog that my mother reads. Let’s just say the curtains don’t match the carpet and leave it at that.
Greek women take great pride in their appearance. Competition in the aesthetics industry is fierce and as a result, prices for haircuts, colour treatments, manicures and pedicures are quite reasonable. Since the crisis hit, however, Greek women have opted for the more affordable option of letting their hair grow out (pixie cuts are difficult to maintain without regular trims) and reverting to their natural hair colour, also cheaper than having your roots retouched every six weeks.
Pre-crisis, my husband’s niece worked at one of the most exclusive hair salons in Athens. She used to relay stories of the rich trophy wives of Athens who thought nothing of getting a full head of extensions at EUR1000 plus at a time that would need to be done all over again in a few months when they started to grow out. These days, there is far less of that sort of extravagance. She could tell how bad the crisis had got by the free time she suddenly had in the salon on Saturday afternoons.
The effect of my trichonomics theory on the female population of Athens is a notable absence of blonde heads in the general population. I’m also seeing much more long hair than I was before. Among Asian women, a head of long hair is a source of great pride. Various oils and potions are lavished on the tresses and tips swapped over how to make the hair grow stronger, faster, darker. I know of friends whose mothers wept when they chopped their long hair off.
The power of hair, especially female hair, is well documented throughout history into today. Samson lost his powers when Delilah cut his hair off, and there are religions and sects extending well beyond Islam that require a woman’s hair to be covered. When women experience personal tragedy, they most often take it out on their hair. Good hair days make us feel invincible and bad hair days make us wish we were invisible.
So it seems only natural then that a woman’s hair be an indication of so many things — how she feels, whether she’s having a good or bad day, and in Greece’s case, the state of the economy she is living in. When Greece’s bonds got a haircut, the female population started cutting back on their own haircuts.