Exactly how politicized is the high and tight hairstyle right now?
November 17, 2017 3:17 PM   Subscribe

So, I just got a haircut literally yesterday. I'm not from the USA and am not really aware of style trends there. The haircut I got looks very much like this. It looks good on me and it's not going to raise any eyebrows where I live, but it just came to my attention that this haircut, or ones like it, are now being associated with neonazis in the USA. I am going to the USA in one week to attend a wedding. A Jewish wedding. Is my hair a real problem, or is it just an overblown internet thing? Do I need an emergency head shave?
posted by Vodka Martini on the Socks to Society & Culture (46 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine, who usually gets a similar, although slightly longer, haircut to that, very recently got one that was much shorter, to wit, just like that. He shrugged, "Apparently I ordered the nazi." We laughed, then went on to have some beers and nobody thought about it again.

Yeah, it's common in those circles. It's also just...really common among everybody else. It's a trendy haircut and has been for years. You're fine.
posted by General Malaise at 3:21 PM on November 17, 2017 [9 favorites]

I can't say whether my feelings are widespread or not, but I personally find this type of haircut alarming (and yes, I know plenty of people wear their hair this way who are decent human beings, including—I have no doubt—yourself!). I have an emotional reaction, though, given my family's history (my father was a Holocaust survivor), and I just can't help but thinking of it as the "Richard Spencer haircut."
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:22 PM on November 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

If you’re clean shaven, you’ll look like military/cop. Grow out stubble if you’re worried. But I wouldn’t be.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:23 PM on November 17, 2017

It's just a common haircut that's currently styish. Presumably the people who invited you to their Jewish wedding aren't going to believe you're suddenly a Nazi because of your haircut. Please don't shave your head because of the Internet.
posted by kimberussell at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2017 [25 favorites]

I'm Jewish and go to lots of Jewish weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs. It wouldn't jump out at me if I saw someone with this haircut. That's partly because I have a very low prior of someone attending a Jewish wedding being a Nazi. I think there's a very low chance that a lot of people at the wedding will be freaked out by your haircut, but a nontrivial chance that at least one person will be freaked out by your haircut. So make your own judgment based on that.
posted by escabeche at 3:27 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am Jewish. My son has a haircut very similar to that. He is in the military. (A little shorter on top, but not much shorter.) I think it looks good on him and in the posted picture. I have not heard the meme that this haircut is a nazi. I would not think twice about your hair. Wear the cut that you like. No one is going to say anything to you. I do not think they will even think anything about it either.
posted by AugustWest at 3:29 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

You're going to have a week's worth of growth on it at that point, so it's not going to look as severe as it does today, remember. Militaristic stuff in general is associated with that particular group, but if you look pretty normal in every other respect, people aren't going to make that association as much. If you've got that much length on the top, a little bit of hair wax might also make it look less severe by making it less tidy, but probably isn't necessary.
posted by Sequence at 3:31 PM on November 17, 2017

I used to have this haircut but after the rise of white nationalism in the USA I changed my style (I don't even identify as white, nobody is mistaking me for a nazi). It makes me look askance at people who still have it. I used to believe that Nazism was so far in the past that it was safe to go back and get that hairstyle again... I don't feel that way anymore.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:31 PM on November 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Sorry, to answer your actual question: You probably don't need to shave off this current haircut, but if you were concerned about keeping it in the future- my data point is that at least some people (probably not at this wedding) are going to look at you and wonder if your haircut symbolizes anything.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 3:33 PM on November 17, 2017

Shaving your head is definitely not the answer if you’re trying to avoid the obvious association.
posted by kapers at 3:36 PM on November 17, 2017 [79 favorites]

Presumably you were invited to this wedding because you know the wedding couple, and you're traveling from another country to this wedding because you care about them, and they care about you? I doubt they would suddenly think you're a Nazi just because you got that haircut.

As for any guests who might jump to that conclusion, I mean, that seems weird to me but that doesn't mean it won't happen. I do think the fact that you're not from the US would make people inclined to be less judgemental of your hair, because for all they know that's just a popular hairstyle in your country (and you say it is, so).

I figure as long as you don't act like you don't like Jewish people or Jewish traditions you don't have much to worry about.
posted by wondermouse at 3:41 PM on November 17, 2017

I bring my kid to a hispanic barber. I am not sure the ethnicity there but I communicate with pantomime basically because I speak no Spanish and he speaks no English. I got referred to the barber by a nice gay couple that go there. He gave him that haircut, which basically matched every other hispanic guy walking out of the shop, and practically every kid in his elementary school. In liberal Massachusetts.

It's a super sharp haircut. Don't let them steal it!
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:47 PM on November 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

Presumably you were invited to this wedding because you know the wedding couple, and you're traveling from another country to this wedding because you care about them, and they care about you?

Yes, I am very close with the (Jewish) groom and know most of his family, but I barely know the (Jewish) bride and have never met any of her family. I would prefer that no one from either side think badly of me because of my hair.

FWIW, I also wear a (blond) beard if that changes anything.
posted by Vodka Martini on the Socks at 3:49 PM on November 17, 2017

Practical consideration, depending on the people whose wedding it is: will they be providing a kippot for men to wear/will wearing a kippot be considered good etiquette? If so, retaining the hair up top will make it easier to keep it in place because you'll have something to clip it on to.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:51 PM on November 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Nazi creeps have a uniform: khaki pants, polo shirt, and an undercut. Individually, these elements do not scream Nazi. But together might raise some eyebrows.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:51 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

It’s a completely normal hairstyle. This is not a widespread concern outside of people who do most of their politics on the internet. (The neonazis themselves are, but the concern over the hairstyle is overplayed.)

With a beard, it will be especially fine.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:58 PM on November 17, 2017 [16 favorites]

The USA is pretty big with a great deal of regional variation, and there's even more variation among Jewish populations in different areas. I think you'll be just fine, and definitely shouldn't shave your head (unless you're beginning to bald, in which case do the Picard and you'll look classy) but if the wedding is near, say, Charlottesville, VA you might want to get the edges of the long bits on top tapered down for a less severe cut, just to be on the super safe side. Nothing drastic though. Fact is, "male" haircuts have very little variety right now and there are tons of people with similar haircuts - this isn't anything like having a tiny centered mustache and a deep side part.

Any wedding is rife with dumb stuff from the two families interacting. Your hair will not be one of those dumb things.
posted by Mizu at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm Jewish and I say that haircut is no problem, unless you're also chanting white nationalist slogans, planning a firebombing, etc. Just go, be cheerful, and say a hearty mazel tov to the bride and groom.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:04 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had that same hairstyle for a few years until noticing it in the white supremacy circles within the past year or so. I'm Jewish (father's side) and even though I always have a 5'o clock shadow, it made me feel weird to continue wearing that particular hairstyle. So I went shorter on top (ie: a caesar cut) and grew out my beard a little. Some of my lgbtq friends still wear the short-sides-long-top, but they're mostly femme and so it doesn't seem to carry the same sort of connotations.

I'd say if it's causing you grief or anxiety -- it's just hair and you can always go a little shorter or change it up -- a caesar or faux hawk are easy to do -- no need to go with a buzz cut unless that's a style you really wanna rock.**

** I agree with culfinglin and believe a buzz would be worse in this situation.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:07 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is my hair a real problem, or is it just an overblown internet thing?

Your hair's fine. Especially with a beard. Don't sweat it.

Do I need an emergency head shave?

THAT would signal that you're a skinhead, and would definitely raise some eyebrows. Don't shave your head.
posted by culfinglin at 4:07 PM on November 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

I took one look at the pictures of the tiki torch Nazis and said, "Welp, time to change my haircut." Mine was similar to the link, shorter on top, and as a very white, clean shaven guy who likes to wear a bow tie now and and then, I just didn't feel comfortable with the look. I've been growing it out since then and have no idea what style I'm heading for (I did like the one I had). I agree that context matters and you definitely should not shave your head unless you have enough hair loss for it to make sense.
posted by wnissen at 4:10 PM on November 17, 2017

I’m Jewish, I live in a small Florida city, I think the haircut association is an overblown Internet thing. Don’t worry about it. My little brother who is 23 has it and so does like every other kid in the country. Have fun, don’t stress!
posted by tatiana wishbone at 4:24 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

To add, I recently went back to school with a lot of early/mid-20s guys and the majority of them had this haircut, even the blonde ones. It says “fancy urban hipster” as much as “neonazi” to me and is totally context dependent.
posted by stoneandstar at 4:43 PM on November 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

People get all kinds of haircuts. Unless you are with a group of other people with the same haircut, I wouldn't worry.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:48 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agreed that at the length in the picture I would not associate the haircut with Neo Nazis. Especially if you dress more hip or fashionable it will be no problem. Shorter on top and more severely combed I would wonder why you didn't get the memo that the haircut has a problematic association, but there would be a lot of other indicators that I would look for, and assuming you were smiling and/or crying, dancing, and generally having a good time I would give you the benefit of the doubt. I often spend time on the bus trying to work out where people are coming from with their fashion and hair choices and there is so much more information that a person can interpret that just your haircut can't tip you one way or the other. So just to be sure, I would avoid wearing combat boots and khakis and a polo shirt.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:54 PM on November 17, 2017

I've always been kinda punk-ish and I'm butch and I wear a lot of scotch plaids and I used to have this haircut. I started getting buzzes that I grow out. I'm Jewish, I do not want people mistaking me for a nazi. The only other option is for me to soften/femme up my look a little, but the resulting dysphoria wouldn't be worth it. I'm afab, so buzzes/very short pixies are an option. You are amab. Buzzed shaven head on a amab person reads very differently. I'd just keep it for the wedding and then maybe next haircut get something, anything different.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:13 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Don't wear khakis and a golf shirt, you'll be fine. :)
posted by mccxxiii at 5:30 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been cutting my husband's hair like this since the 1980s. My dad had this haircut and fought Nazis from a tank in Normandy.
Time to reclaim a good haircut. And ignore the haters. But it's too cold outside for a shave, unless that is really your style.
posted by TrishaU at 5:33 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

i would not think anything of it if i saw you at a jewish wedding but it would make me idly wonder if i saw you pretty much anywhere else.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:39 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

That haircut could look slightly alt-right if it was paired with hypermasculine or non-expressive clothing styles (like army jacket, army boots, or just a suit in severe / drab colours).

But it could also just look neat and carefully groomed if paired with more "hipster" or "metrosexual" clothing. If you're concerned about looking too hard, you could consider wearing colours and accessories that will add softness, and counter any fears of toxic masculinity... like a pink or lavender shirt with your suit, a more "feminine" tie pattern (like flowers or something bright), a bright pocket square, a cute tie clip, and/or bright colourful socks. I don't picture alt-right dudes expressing style in those kinds of ways.

For instance, here's a Mormon dad (blogger Stephanie Nielson's husband Christian) with pretty much that exact haircut, but he has a pastel tie and very stylish brown shoes, and probably bright socks, and he doesn't look alt-right to me at all (although he probably votes right as heck, he certainly wouldn't attack anyone).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:52 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

FWIW, I also wear a (blond) beard if that changes anything.

It screams hipster. I don't like the look, particularly when it comes with too-short trousers, but it's "generic, somewhat affluent white man" not "Nazi".
posted by hoyland at 5:53 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you are trying not to look like a Nazi shaving your head is definitely not the way to go. Skinheads are much scarier than dudes with mildly questionable haircuts.
posted by windykites at 6:12 PM on November 17, 2017

I passed a dude on the street recently who had that haircut and I had a momentary blip of "oh god Nazi?" and then I realized no, gay dude with the haircut that so many gay dudes in San Francisco have had for a while. Just don't wear khakis and a polo and you'll be fine. (Also, of course, don't actually be a Nazi, and you will be even finer.)
posted by rtha at 6:54 PM on November 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

None of this is problematic. In some parts of the country (esp. the south, where it's hot a lot), khakis and polos and any variety of short haircut also just make you look like another guy in middle management. I think it's a perverse case of "OMG there are neo-Nazis among us who look pretty normal..." so - normal is the new suspicious? As others have suggested, just - don't be a nazi.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:36 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

I go too long between haircuts, but for a few weeks after a trip to my hairdresser, my hair looks a fair bit like the picture you posted. I'm also a foreign-born American Jew. Most of the men in my family of a certain generation went to fight the Nazis, and many of them did not return. I'm not about to surrender anything--including this haircut--to that scum. In any event, as a lot of people are pointing out, it seems that the contemporary Nazi does not conceal the fact that he is a degenerated member of the middle class and in fact dresses the part.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 7:47 PM on November 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Contextual clues are your friend. If you're offered a kippah, wear it. Personally, that haircut on a 20-45yo man does give me a bit of pause these days, and I might be tempted to draw you out more on politics in conversation just to check.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 7:51 PM on November 17, 2017

I am completely unqualified to answer this, since I am not young and not Jewish, but I am American. So, having established my lack of bona fides, my feeling is that I won't let a bunch of white supremacist tug jobs change my haircut, and I hope you won't either. Ceding control to them seems ... wrong, somehow.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:14 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

If we're going to make assumptions about people's politics based purely on hairstyle, a shaved head could just look like a different kind of neo nazi. But I really think that anyone who is jumping to these conclusions is off base and I'm surprised by the number of people in this thread who would make that assumption. It's a really popular haircut these days, worn by a lot of celebrities.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:22 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Don't wear it with khakis and a Pepe pin, and you'll be fine. It is a popular haircut, which is probably why you were able to find a celebrity instead of a Nazi for your example photo. It's not like you're trying to wear to suspenders and combat boots with white laces. Yeah, Richard Spencer has a similar haircut, but so do tons and tons of other guys. You'll be fine, and if I saw you talking and partying with people at a Jewish wedding, of all places, I would assume you were someone's friend or family, not a Nazi on his day off.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:52 AM on November 18, 2017

There's a guy who rides my bus with this haircut. He's a manspreading jerk who takes up three seats and most of the aisle, but he's probably not actually a nazi.
posted by CheeseLouise at 4:49 AM on November 18, 2017

Seconding rtha. I’m in Washington DC (some of the nost outspoken Nazis are unfortunately my neighbors over in the VA suburbs) and I’d think “hip gay dude” way before I’d assume “neo-Nazi” with that haircut.
posted by capricorn at 6:21 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Meant to mention I’m ethnically Jewish!
posted by capricorn at 6:22 AM on November 18, 2017

Even if someone had a brief kneejerk reaction, if they had two brain cells to rub together they'd realize that a neo-Nazi is not going to go to a Jewish wedding unless they came there to fuck it up. So act very congenial, avoid politics talk (or if you can't, make it clear that you're a lefty), and don't get blackout drunk.I agree with the feminine accoutrements. It would never occur to me to be threatened by a guy with a floral pocket handkerchief or funky socks. (Avoid tall black boots, I guess.)
posted by AFABulous at 7:13 AM on November 18, 2017

With a beard you'd definitely read more as hip gay guy than nazi, imo, coming from someone who spent years in chicago. Having a shaved head, though, would raise eyebrows* for a much larger population. I dont know about you but neo nazis are also called skinheads over here.

*lands to a general google images search for "white power gang" showing various images of white neo-nazis, most with a shaved head, and various levels of facial hair
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:05 AM on November 18, 2017

Ha! My poor boyfriend has had that haircut for years (I've always referred to it as his WWI Flying Ace cut) but the last time he got it he was horrified to realize that it was pretty much the Richard Spencer. But my opinion, as a Jewish person, it that it's just a haircut, and a trendy one across many demographics. I think you'll be fine.
posted by merriment at 1:40 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeahhhh, I call this the "hitler youth" haircut, and I judge those who sport it. (though I also assume many of those who sport it are just clueless hipsters with more money than sense who couldn't make an original decision if I paid them to).
posted by sazerac at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2017

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