On Cuba’s “New” Fashion Trends

Jorge Milanés Despaigne 

A private home beauty salon.  Photo: visioncubana.blogea.cu
Foto: visioncubana.bloguea.cu

HAVANA TIMES — “Leandro, I want you to iron-out my hair and give me a haircut like yours. And don’t worry, I have money.”

The person addressed, on hearing the word “money”, began taking out the gear. My neighbor then asked: “Can you do it?”

“Of course. My mother taught me to cut hair when I was 12 and I’ve always enjoyed it. I did this myself,” he replied, showing him his haircut up close.

Ready to do his friend’s bidding, he told him: “Sit down over here, we can start right now.”

My mom and I, sitting out on the porch, overheard their conversation in the garage next door.

Leandro tries to keep abreast of fashion with his new, daring “trans” haircut, not caring that Servando, his father, has always disapproved of such fashions, something he does not conceal when he shows up at the improvised barber’s and asks: “Isn’t that a woman’s haircut you’ve got? I’ve never approved of that trend.”

The kids don’t reply. Servando keeps at it, with an offensive tone:

“Boys and girls are trimming their eyebrows, wearing earrings, shaving, dying their hair. That’s what women do and it’s got a name. In my time, it was plain queerness.”

The kids pay no attention to him. My mother could not contain herself and replied from our porch:

“My husband dyed his hair, trimmed his eyebrows and shaved his body since he was 30 and he was one hell of a macho man, more so than plenty of hairy people I know,” she said, clearly alluding to Servando. Like someone whose buttons have been pushed, she went on.

“You’ve had seven women and they’ve all been unfaithful to you, in your own bed. Could it be you’re not as macho as you say?”

Trends in terms of makeup, shaving, waxing, dying one’s hair or specific haircuts are cyclical and come to us from Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, among others. It is not a strictly contemporary phenomenon – to a greater or lesser extent, they’ve always been part of our social dynamic.

They do not define a man or woman but merely respond to cultural, climatological and other patterns.

Generally speaking, it is undeniable that those who condemn these trends with a vehemence that borders on the pathological are hiding their weaknesses behind those phobias, and that these make them unhappy their whole lives.

3 thoughts on “On Cuba’s “New” Fashion Trends

  • Some gays adopt a stylized macho persona. Others are more feminine, or dweeby, or twinks, or a dozen other genres of gayness. You can’t paint homosexuals with one brush.

    In Cuba, gays follow much the same patterns, but it’s more under the radar. Reinaldo Arenas wrote about machos, including police, who used to press him for sexual favours, explaining the weren’t queer or anything, oh no, they just needed a prostate massage for medical reasons.

    It is common among macho societies that the one who takes the “male” role in a homosexual encounter does not consider himself “gay”. It’s the one who takes the submissive, female role who is the maricon.

  • In the USA Homosexuals port an exaggerated masculinity. So this trend has nothing to do with Sexual Orientation.

  • In Canada, the US & the UK, the trend among men to trim, shave & all coiffe their hair is called “metrosexual”. It’s not queer, just an overly aesthetic concern for appearance. In ages past, such man was called a dandy, a fop or a macaroni. (Not to be mistaken for maricón).

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