Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Rudest Hairstyle

Hi. I learned something. And though I think the thing learned is interesting, I should probably disclose that I learned it as a result of something awful. Do you know Jedward? God, I hope you don’t. Jedward looks like this:

Yes, Jedward is a “they” — the boys are John and Edward in their off-stage lives — and, because they’re twins, I think it’s awkward that they have their names smashed into a portmanteau in the style usually reserved for romantic pairings. As you can see, they look like cloned Vanilla Ice organ banks crossed with the Cat in the Hat’s Thing One and Thing Two by way of the Fanning family. They also happened to emerge victorious on a season of The X-Factor, and judging what I know about the style of singing that tends to succeed on competitive reality shows, I will never, ever like anything that Jedward does. I’m happy to just leave it at that.

Because it’s not something they did, exactly, I can be happy that this… thing’s existence at least educated me: I read that the two were known for their trademark hairstyles — you know, as opposed to their music — and the text described the follicular weirdness going on as a quiff. And in doing so, I got a new word of the week.
quiff (kwif) — a prominent forelock, especially one brushed upward from the forehead.
Wikipedia elaborates a bit more, placing the quiff somewhere between the pompadour, the flattop and maybe the mohawk, which should offer you no help to picture the style on a non-Jedward head. But it also notes that Morrissey has a quiff, though I’d imagine his is a more pompadour-ish one — and that most people would just call his mop a pompadour and be done with it.

I did a Google Image search for “quiff” and came up with a whole variety of fashion hair that I wouldn’t have classified together in the period of my life B.Q. (“before quiff-knowing”) but what the hell — apparently these are all examples of this particular hairstyle.

natalie portman, la roux and philip j. fry, together at last

So that’s what the quiff looks like, but where does the term come from? Etymonline posits that it could be related to whiff. Wiktionary and other less reputable sources guess that it could come from coif, which would make sense , but following that line there’s a surprising association. According to some sources, quiff can also mean “a promiscuous woman” or “a prostitute,” while coif can be French slang for “vulva.” I have never heard this before, but then again I don’t frequent French prostitutes. This connection between coif and vulva isn’t not wholly unreasonable, since English at least has a varied manager of of hair-associated slang terms for the same body part, beaver, pussy and possibly even cunt maybe being the most popular. (“Popular” in terms of use, maybe others too, depending on what kind of girl you’re talking about.) And then there’s the joke I’ve been restraining myself from making this whole post: the similarity between quiff and queef. But the jury’s out and probably forever will be out on the etymology of that one.

In the end, I can’t conclude much, but I wholly support there being greater gravity to the insults that haters recklessly hurl at Jedward. Not Morrissey though. Don’t call Morrissey that. Morrissey is the man.

(The previous word of the week? Pettitoes. This and all the rest after the jump.)

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