Big hair is a term that can refer to hairstyles that emphasize large volume or largely styled hair, especially when those styles make the hair occupy a large amount of space above and around the head. The label "big hair" for such styles originated in the late 1970s, when these styles were beginning a period of popularity; the label has been applied to similar styles that have become fashionable at various periods in history.
Women's hairstyles labelled as "big hair" became fashionable during this period, with a poster of actress Farrah Fawcett becoming an iconic example. The fashion persisted with certain regional subcultures in the southern United States, and the styles are sometimes also associated with female country music performers. It is also associated with the exaggerated stereotypical femininity associated with drag queens and similar gender performers.
For both genders, big hair became popular in the 1980s and the early 1990s. The term is also used in the punk, glam, goth and alternative cultures and is particularly associated with fashion of the 1970s and 1980s, or inspired by the period. From these origins, big hair became a feature of a number of Japanese street and alternative fashions, including Harajuku and ganguro.
Depending on the specific style, hairstyles in the big hair categories may require a number of styling, cutting, or treatment techniques. Styling of punk and alternative big hair styles often requires backcombing (teasing) and the liberal application of styling aids such as hair spray and hair gel, often in combination with the use of hair dryers. Crimping irons, perms, hair rollers, or other techniques may also be required.
See also 
- "Big hair", entry in Merriam-Webster Online, accessed March 23, 2010.
- Innes-Smith, below
- Skip Hollandsworth, "Hooray for Big Hair", Texas Monthly, December 1992, pp. 122 et. seq.
- "....tits, big hair, lots of make-up and a dick", Kate Bornstein, interview by Shannon Bell, in "Kate Bornstein: A Transgender Transsexual Postmodern Tiresias", Mental Backup p.3.
- James Innes-Smith, Big Hair (Bloomsbury USA, 2003; ISBN 1-58234-449-3)
- Tiffany Godoy and Ivan Vartanian, Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion - Tokyo (Chronicle Books, 2007; ISBN 0-8118-5796-4)
- Innes-Smith, above
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