White Hair and Superstition
Pulling White Hair a Superstition?
There grows another one! Ugh!
“Stop pulling your white hair. It will be replaced with more white hair.” she said. “Can you link me to a scientific explanation on why we could not, should not, or must not pull white hair?” I asked her.
Darn this itchiness on the head especially at the crown area! It is annoying! It prompts me to get up, find it, and pull it. Where the itch is, always, a tiny white hair is present. There again, another one! This growing little white hair is firm and stands out easily. I feel a great relief when white hair is pulled out. As I took out my favourite skinny tweezers inside the bathroom cabinet, I imagined a superstitious belief written across the mirror-
“Do not pull out white hair, it will turn plenty.” Oh, just like everyone around me is saying! Men do pluck white hair too.
When I was younger, my ma and pa never believed in it and I used to pull their white hair too often every weekend. I got to collect some change from doing them a favour, which was the best thing. Not too late, it occurred to me that I will only pull my parents’ white hair if they pay me. “It is superstitious when you start to pull one strand of white hair, two or more will grow.” I heard this a million times. Nobody had pointed out to me if the new growth of white hair will multiply on the same spot or anywhere on the head. Anyway, the hell with what they are saying, it does not prove to anything. If a white hair would grow, it is because it needed to grow, haha.
What makes hair change its shade?
What makes hair turn gray or white, I asked? I googled for answers. Natural factors like aging, genetics, hormones, even climate and toxins, stress, vitamin deficiencies and some diseases that cause hair to turn gray or white. What makes white hair grow back so fast? Someone in the house overheard me and answered, “Because you pull them.” “Oh, really?” was my response.
The natural colour of our hair comes from a pigment called melanin. As I have tried to understand it, melanin pigment blended by a cell inside the hair follicle is called melanocytes. What is that again? “Melanocytes”. This cell or melanocytes produce two types of melanin that gives the hair a dark or light colour. More melanin, darker hair; less melanin, lighter hair. The colour of our hair depends on the amount of melanin. The varied human race is associated to the colour of our hair. Why cannot we just say that God has given you orange hair and He gave me purple hair? As we age, melanin is reduced thus the change of hair colour to gray or white. Plainly, a hair follicle stopped producing hair pigmentation, and then the white hair appears. The older we get, the pulling of white hair could become less a habit because it starts to get painful, advised a friend. This is rather believable and not superstitious. Well, I guess we know when to stop.
Are you still superstitious?
Could this brief explanation change the superstition of pulling white hair? The answer is NO. It corrects it, but cannot change it. In my observation, “superstition” is a ‘built-in’ base of many strong emotions. It is convincing as brainwashing. There is no proof on how or where it started. Superstition is irrational. People are easily blinded to follow it with no valid reasoning. If you rather stray away from believing a superstition, you would search for the right answers to educate yourself and what you just learned will educate someone else. That is why it is called superstition or superstitious belief because it has the power to make people believe since the mothers before them.
Some superstitions that I remember: “Do not talk to yourself while playing alone. An enchanted spirit will come and play with you.” Was that a scare so I would not look stupid talking like I have and invisible playmate? You grew up to knowing your limitations because it frightened you since childhood. Grandma once said, “Do not sing while cooking…you will never marry.” In the Philippines, we have double kitchens. One indoor kitchen “kusina” and a traditional outdoor kitchen just called “the dirty kitchen” because of the ashes that build up the surface from using firewood that also produces a lot of smoke. The pots get blackened by smoke. I sang to The Beatles and Bryan Adams countless of times while cooking and I wed at the age of 25.
You love cats but you run away seeing a black cat for you were taught to believe that crossing paths with a black cat brings bad luck. You eagerly wanted to grow a mini grape garden, but your superstitious neighbour warned you not to, or it will cause death in the family. But, you did make a grape garden and the grapevines bore bountiful healthy fruit. The only death was the grape-vine after years of giving sweet offerings. For superstitions could sound close to truth, so many people easily get swayed into believing. Believing in superstitious beliefs is not ignorance. You shrug your shoulders and refuse to become a victim of it, that is fine; and fine is better. Even many great men still believe and carry on to superstitions since their childhood. Superstitious beliefs have been ancient part of every culture and in the lives of people as old as they may sound.
Now, my head is itchy, must be white hair.