fashion

Australia, we need to talk about the mullets.

We've all noticed it.

I mean, I think that is the point. 

No one is leaving their house with a mullet if they want to lie low. That's not how mullets work.

Watch: Mullet or no-mullet, here are some haircare tips to keep your locks in tip-top shape. Post continues below video.


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Mullets say: "look at me". They're in your face. They leave an impression, whether you're... weirdly attracted to them or simply wondering when the last time those strands met an ounce of shampoo.

So yes. We've all noticed that mullets are back in a big way. And we simply must talk about it.

The "business in the front, party in the back" hairstyle has slowly creeped its way back into our lives in recent years.

 We laughed as it made its way onto the heads of footy players and shrugged when Miley Cyrus payed homage to her dad and his achy breaky heart, circa 1992. 

Queen Miley of the Mullet. Image: Getty.

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But we didn't ask enough questions. We didn't give it enough of a suspicious eye. 

Until BAM: a stealth takeover. 

Suddenly guys on dating apps were rocking (or not-rocking, depending on your personal feelings) mullets. Reality TV stars we had forgotten existed were suddenly back in the public consciousness, because they'd hacked off the front of their hair. I saw an IRL mullet at an IRL bar and no one was acting like it was that... weird. 

Mullets had made their way from the working man to hipsters, and in the process pulled some kind of Jedi mind trick to make us think they're... hot.

I will admit, this is a very compelling argument for watching some footy. Image: Getty.

So, in a civilised society, one must ask why? Why are so many otherwise perfectly capable adults falling victim to this extremely confusing haircut?

Naturally, I'm going to place blame on the COVID-19 pandemic.

For 18+ months, people the world over have spent way too much time inside their own homes. There was no way to get to a hair professional, and most people found themselves distanced from the... voices of reason within their life.

Whether they resulted from an at-home hack job, or by having to live through that 'awkward' stage of growing out hair, or... an actual choice, people embraced the mullet.

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Mullets require little day-to-day maintenance. I don't have personal experience, but I know Darryl down the road wouldn't have one if they did. This makes them the perfect pandemic hairstyle. If we can barely be bothered to change from our daggy track pants to our slightly nicer track pants, it makes sense that we also want those dead protein cells on the top of our head to be no-fuss too.

Plus, they're nostalgic. And if Bennifer's resurgence has taught us anything, it's that we love nostalgia. Especially when the world is on fire. 

It's comforting and distracting and... kind of cute? Like yeah there's a virus keeping us from living our damn lives but ha ha ha look at Riri with a mullet! Check out that Olympic sprinter! Did you see what Zac Efron did to his beautiful head?!

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In the context of the current state of the world, the mullet resurgence makes sense. But this doesn't explain the increasingly common... attraction to them.

Is it simply a numbers game? More mullets = the more likely someone you'd be attracted to regardless has one, right? See: Efron.

Beyond this, they stumped me. Despite living in Sydney's inner west, where the upcoming Australian census will no doubt reveal that mullets are far above the nationwide average, I've just never... got it.

Australia golfer Cameron Smith is sporting a very... impressive mullet on the world's biggest sporting stage. Image: Getty.

I reached out to my perplexing, mullet-loving colleagues for their reasons, and it turns out it's less about how the mullet looks and more about what the mullet ~represents~.

They say "yeah, I'm brave enough to take kitchen scissors to my head" and for... reasons, we dig that.

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A mullet signifies rebellion and self-confidence. It's basically a conflict zone on top of your head. Mullet wearers are non-confirmative. Or they're just conforming to an in-vogue niche 'fashion boy' vibe, which thinks it's non-confirmative!

They're often ironic, worn because it's a little bit funny.

"Not only does it suit lots of people but it makes me think the person doesn't take themself too seriously," one colleague, who has been requesting their partner get a mullet to no avail, told me.

"Whether you like it or not it's about the wearer being super comfortable with themselves and I think that's attractive. People going against the grain," another said.

Mullets are also androgynous, another huge trend as society shuns old school fashion and beauty norms.

Demi Lovato debuted their mullet at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Image: Getty.

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This all makes sense. It also explains my... confusing feelings about that footy player collage earlier in the story. I have been looking at mullets through the wrong lense.

Mullets have long had stigma. They're one of the best known signifiers of a bogan, after all.

But in 2021, mullets are for everyone. People across the world are reclaiming the mullet. Mullets are performing at festivals. They're on album covers and on TV. With the Olympics, they're on the biggest sporting stage of them all. And yeah, they're definitely on the streets of Sydney's hipster-central Newtown (pre-lockdown, keep your mullet at home right now, please!)

Whether you're in camp mullet or strongly in camp not-mullet, the mullet is, in one way or another, bringing people together.

And uh, perhaps unlike the hairstyle, I think that's beautiful.

Image: Getty/Instagram.

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