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The Origins of the Man Bun

Man buns have taken the media by storm. However, they seem to be represented by a niche group of people – white men. Browsing the Internet, I found that people cited bartenders and athletes in Brooklyn as the initiators of this trend and lauded celebrities David Beckham and Jared Leto, both white men, as reasons for the style’s popularity.

David Beckham wearing his hair in a man bun source:

David Beckham wearing his hair in a man bun source: /1/m/k/3/a/y/ .620×414.1mk3u5.png/1428908948232.jpg

Initially, the hairstyle was completely polarizing, prompting either outright love or outright hatred. People interviewed by The New York times revealed this split sentiment, either stating that they “love[d] long hair on men” or that they “want[ed] to walk around Brooklyn with a pair of scissors and snip off every man bun”. However, according to an article from The New York Times, the now overwhelming presence of man buns in media and day-to-day life normalizes the style. Though few people continue to have strong opinions on the man bun, most people seem to be indifferent to the hairstyle. Apparently, due to its flare in popularity, the man bun is no longer a statement of individuality. However, The New York Times, along with other media outlets, is guilty of not recognizing the true origins of the man bun and giving credit to people of where it is due; eastern cultures, such as Sikh and Samurai culture, have celebrated the “man bun” for centuries, and for them, the hairstyle continues to hold cultural significance.

an image of Guru Gobind Sigh Ji source:

an image of Guru Gobind Sigh Ji source: http://www.mygodpictures .com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ Glitter-Image-Of- Guru-Gobind-Singh-Ji.jpg

For Sikh men, the jura, aka the man bun, is a symbol of solidarity. Let me explain. On March 30th, 1699, Guru Gobind Singh (pictured below) created the Khalsa, which is a body of Sikhs. Sikhs who are specifically a part of the Khalsa follow “The Five K’s”– a set of guidelines for daily life. One of these “K’s”, kesh, urges Sikhs not to cut their hair in order to show respect for God’s creation, thus birthing the necessity for the “man bun”. As a result, from infancy until they begin balding, Sikh boys tie their hair in a jura, and use their hair to show their shared beliefs.

During the Edo Period from 1603 to 1868, samurais shaved the center of their heads and formed buns out of their remaining hair. This hairstyle was called chonmage and initially originated so that samurais could more easily mount their helmets on their heads. With time, the hairstyle became associated with high status and though modified, it is still largely present in Japan.


source: katsushika-hokusai/ portrait-of-a-man-of-noble-birth-with-a-book.jpg

If you’re a man and you’re thinking of growing your hair long, go for it, but be sure to respect that for certain societies, this hairstyle has cultural significance and is more than just an aesthetic “look”. If you’re not a POC, help bring awareness to our cultures instead of blindly accepting them as your own. It is important for us to make sure that we know the history and full story behind an idea before we can synthesize it into our every day lives.


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