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The term mohawk is often used to describe more than one type of hairstyle, although they all generally consist of shorter hair on the sides of the head with the hair in the middle left several inches longer. In the most common version of a mohawk haircut, the sides of the head are completely shaved from front to back, leaving a strip of hair that runs through the middle. The remaining strip of hair can be most any length, but it is often cropped down to within just a few inches of the scalp. The mohawk was believed to have been worn by many early American Indians, and it became a part of pop culture when punk rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s began cutting their hair this way.
Mohawk haircuts are more commonly worn by men, although some women have also sported this look. Cyndi Lauper, a famous entertainer and recording artist of the 1980s, often wore her hair in this fashion, and for a brief period of time some women in the punk subculture mimicked the style. Other female pop stars who have reportedly worn their own versions of the mohawk haircut include Gwen Stefani and Rhianna.
Some versions of the mohawk haircut do not require shaving the sides of the head. One of these styles involves not cutting the hair at all and instead simply using gel to coax all the hair to the middle of the head with a hair stiffener to create the peak in the middle. A mohawk might also be achieved by simply cutting the hair on both sides of the head very short while leaving a longer strip in the middle. These alternate styles seem to be more popular with women than with men.
Mohawk hairstyles may have an even earlier history than previously believed. In 2003, a well-preserved 2000-year-old male corpse was discovered in an Irish bog. The corpse had a well-defined mohawk haircut that was complete with oil to help the hair stand up. The oil was a mix of vegetable oils and resin, and experts believed that the presence of the oil might indicate that much care was given to maintaining the hairstyle. Experts generally believe that the additional attention given to the hairstyle could be evidence that the style might point to social status.
People considering mohawk haircuts should probably take the time to think it over very carefully. One of the biggest drawbacks to this type of hairstyle is that, once cut, it could take a very long time for it to grow back out. Additionally, there is usually very little that can be done with the hair while waiting for it to grow. It could take months or even years before the hair grows out enough to adopt another type of hairstyle.