if control. Should I grow a man-bun?

I need to tame this curly hair kraken before I have to appear on TV again


Illustration of terrible man bun
‘The last haircut I had, I asked my barber to leave the top alone, so I could grow it out’ Illustration: Gym Class/The Guardian


Romesh Ranganathan

Idon’t think I am somebody who is obsessed with his appearance. Most of the time I am just trying to look vaguely presentable. I hate looking in the mirror, and will often get to the afternoon, catch sight of my reflection and realise that I have toothpaste in my beard that my wife hasn’t bothered to tell me about, because she couldn’t be less invested.

Recently, I became paranoid about being frozen in my look – that well-known phenomenon whereby men pick a style and stick with it until the day they die, allowing people to properly quantify their decline and decay along the way. I decided I should try to do something different with my hair. The last haircut I had, I asked my barber to leave the top alone, so I could grow it out. It was then that he asked the dreaded question: “What look are you going for?” I don’t bloody know! I just thought I’d grow it for a bit and hope inspiration might hit me. But that’s not massively helpful to a barber. They need to know what your endgame is, so they can nurture your barnet in the right direction.

I have always found that question incredibly difficult to answer. I don’t know the names of any hairstyles, or fashion references, so I would just be naming people I wanted to look like. And then the barber would have to nod politely and then later I would tell my wife, and she would piss herself at the idea that I told someone I wanted to look like Henry Cavill.


In the end, the decision was taken out of my hands, as lockdown hit and I now have a hairstyle that is truly out of control, with no prospect of a cut unless I get drunk one night and give it a go myself. My hair gets incredibly curly as soon as it grows, something I remember from my youth, and it seems that curly hair is harder to control than QAnon memes in Louisiana. It has essentially become a sentient being with its own wants and desires, completely unbothered about the plans I might have for it.

In the last couple of weeks I have been carrying out research into how to deal with it. This has quickly developed into an obsession, as I investigated non-sulphate shampoos, leave-in conditioners and hair cremes. Lockdown has meant I am able to spend inordinate amounts of time trying different combinations of products and then pretending that my hair doesn’t look exactly the same as it has done every day for the last fortnight. The biggest low came when I spent the morning faffing around with it, getting to a point where I thought it looked just about OK, before joining a Zoom meeting where everyone laughed at me for having the worst lockdown hair of the group.

In a week’s time I start filming The Ranganation, and my hair will be revealed to the show’s audience. It will be crunch time. I need to find a way to tame this hair Kraken and get to a point where #romshithair isn’t trending on Twitter. I have tried hairdresser advice, YouTube videos and online tutorials. I am one bad hair day away from asking my mum to call in a priest.

My wife says I just need to cut it all off again. She says that I had found a hairstyle that suited me, and the idea that I will suddenly find something better is madness. At this stage, I think the most likely outcome is that #romskinhead will be trending by next week.

Resources: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/jan/29/romesh-ranganathan-my-hair-is-out-of-control-should-i-grow-a-man-bun

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