A hairy journey and what it got influenced by.
Hey, I’m Phil Bottenberg, the new one here, and this article is a bit different to what you can usually find on here. It is my hair story and I want to share it with you.
You might know me from my work as a Content Creator on Instagram where I have a current following of around 148.000.
Anyway as you might have noticed I have a lot of hair. I always had, even my hairdresser when I was young (funny enough she ended up being my neighbor now) always told me I had hair like a bear.
While my older brother had to go to the hairdresser once every couple of months, I had to be there at least once a month otherwise my hair would go wild.
Not too mention that she had to thin it out a lot every time I went there.
But anyway, back to the introduction.
So where was I?
Ah yeah right, I have a lot of hair not only on my scalp but I also rock a full beard.
So you might think: just another bearded long-haired hipster that now decides to go into blogging?
Your assumption might be correct, but there is more to it.
I once studied literature, culture, and media so essentially, I do have a background in journalism in some ways.
Not to mention that over the time, I gathered quite a bit of knowledge about hair as it is part of my job to occasionally advertise certain hair products and I do need to know what I’m talking about, am I right?
Okay, enough of this.
Let me tell you a bit of my story growing up copying the hairstyles of my brother. About finding my “own” style, and covering my face with a laughable scene haircut and up to deciding to grow a beard. And then becoming an Instagram model.
So now that you know me a bit better, let me tell you a story, a hair story…
I already mentioned above that I’ve always had a lot of hair, which made certain things a bit different.
As a child, I always had short hair, easier to maintain and easier to just run around outside and play, kid things right?
Anyway, due to my thick hair and quick hair growth, I had to visit the hairdresser once a month. Oh, what a hateful procedure.
She had to thin out my hair, cut my ears free, and cut my fringe so it wouldn’t fall into my eyes too much.
This continued for quite a while until I must have been around 10.
My brother (who is 4 years older than me) decided to get some blond highlights done. We had terrible style back in 2000.
As a younger brother who always thought his brother was the coolest person, I wanted to get them done as well. And oh boy did I look stupid.
The Spiky Period
Now, unfortunately, I was unable to find a good picture of me sporting this atrocity of a haircut. Eventually, because my parents thought the same and simply refused to take pictures of me during that time.
But here is a picture of me with a bit of spiky hair:
Now, if you remember, I had super thick hair, and so I had to use an insane amount of hair gel every single day to make my hair look that spiky.
After using said insane amount of hairstyling products, my hair was rock hard. But once I arrived at school, played some soccer, and before the lessons would start, my hair laid flat on my head again.
With maybe one or two spikes still standing up.
So yeah, you might imagine I looked like a fool.
We called this type of haircut the hedgehog haircut. And I more or less looked like a hedgehog that got ran over by a car.
Shortly after I discovered my love for tattoos thanks to Travis Barker from blink182.
He was, in some ways, my childhood hero.
He looked cool, he was in a band, covered in tattoos, and well yeah he was simply the best.
Now the problem was that I was not allowed to shave my head and just leave a mohawk in the middle.
So again I used an insane amount of hair gel to push my hair in the middle to a mohawk while I used even more hair gel and hairspray to press my hair on the sides so close to my head that it, in my opinion, made it look like I have my sides shaved.
You can imagine how this looked.
The Scene Phase
Anyway, a few years later the scene phase hit me. My clothing style got darker, my hair longer, and my music louder.
Isn’t it funny how our style also always changes with our taste in music?
But before I was able to rock great long demo hair the worse of my hair phases began… the growing phase.
Growing hair is a nightmare. So many months where you have to wait to have long enough hair to have the hairstyle you want but too long hair to actually do something with it.
It was terrible and I looked a bit like a chubby dog:
Once I made it past this phase and I finally had long enough hair to be the super emo, I had a few changing role models: from Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low to lesser-known singers like the lead singer of Like Moths to Flames.
So I dyed my hair black, even painted my fingernails a few times, and became the weird kid at school.
A lot of my male schoolmates made remarks about me being gay for having long hair and dressing differently while most of the girls liked me for being a bit special.
So let’s take a second to talk about how a hairstyle puts you into a cliche.
In a perfect world, it wouldn’t matter how we dress or style yourself, and people would simply judge you by your actions.
But especially in the teenage years, everyone gets kinda picked on if they look only remotely different.
Even having a girlfriend back then and clearly not being interested in other guys, I was the gay guy with long hair.
There was nothing I could do about it. It was simply due to the fact that my hair was longer than the others. And this is not only limited to me.
Hairstyles put you into certain groups: if you have a mohwak, you’re a punk; if you cover your eyes you’re an emo, etc.
The phrase “I just like the hairstyle” is not acceptable, you are what you look like.
And this is what most people get bullied for.
Maybe bullied is a bit of a harsh word for this, but you get made fun of if you identify yourself with something else than the mainstream.
You’re a boy and you don’t have short hair? Be ready to get called names.
You have a mohawk? People won’t talk to you because you are a trouble-seeking punk.
You cover one eye with your hair? You definitely spent all your free time cutting yourself.
It’s a shame that you can’t just freely enjoy your style and allow it to shape your personality.
A lot of young teenagers are pressured into something they’re not simply due to the fact that they don’t want to get called names.
So a matter of advice: take a deep breath and the next time you see someone new, don’t judge him or her by their look but rather ask what the person’s interest is in.
Anyway, problems asides, close to the end of my school years I wore my hair a bit shorter again. And then the last week of school arrived.
There is a tradition in Germany where you have specific topics of dressing up on your last week of school.
We, for example, had a childhood hero day where I dressed up as Cartman of South Park. We also had an elderly people day and so on. But we also had a “homeless” day.
The homeless day was on the Friday of said week, so I decided to grow a bit of a beard for this day.
Back then, I thought that having a beard was kind of a lack of taking care of yourself . Having really strong hair growth, I managed to get a patchy looking bit of a beard by then.
This was the beginning of my beard
A couple of years later, I started to look more into Instagram and found this handsome bearded man named Ricki Hall.
Ricki Hall quickly became a style role model for me and I decided to turn my short beard into what it is today.
Thanks to him I, started with actual beard care and reading how to maintain my facial hair better. I also changed my eating habits to a healthier grow support and all that kind of stuff.
And surprisingly, it worked out!
During this period of time, my life was full of changes for the better.
My Instagram Career
I moved to Australia to pursue a modeling career and quickly after my arrival, my Instagram career kicked off.
Thanks to my strong hair and beard growth, I got picked by an Australian hairdresser. Named Stefano Silvestri, he picked me for the Australian Hair Fashion Awards.
The Australian Hair Fashion Awards is an award for hair fashion. (Obviously) where hairdressers all around Australia compete to find the hairstyle of the year, judged by an international jury.
He styled my hair and beard and a couple of weeks later, we found ourselves in the final of said competition.
With this came some much-needed exposure and I grew roughly 40.000 followers overnight which established me as a so-called Influencer.
So yes I have made a career of my hair.
Since then, my hair roughly stayed the same. I trim my beard every once in a while, and sometimes, my hair as well.
But essentially, it stayed the same now for almost 4 years.
Do I have the urge to cut it sometimes? Most certainly yes!
However I love my hair and it is part of my life, my story, and my career, therefore it stays. At least for now.
I honestly do believe my hair is the reason why I can make a living out of posting pictures on the internet.
If I wouldn’t have had the beard and the long hair, I would have never made it to the Australian Hair Fashion Awards and therefore, would have never got the exposure I needed to turn myself into an Influencer.
Life is funny sometimes and I’m excited to see what happens next.
A Hair Story Conclusion:
Looking back now, it is really interesting to see what influence our style throughout our lives.
We are always on the lookout for role models that we can essentially copy. It might be our siblings, father, mother, or another relative. The cool kid at school, the singer of our favorite band or our favorite athlete.
But no matter how old we are, we kind of rely on the inspiration of a role model.
As for me, personally, Ricki Hall once influenced my style. Now, I influence others who might again influence others as well.
It is a never-ending chain of influence until we find the style that fits us the most. And then again, it changes when we grow older and it starts again.
Hope you don’t mind the little excursion into my growing up. But do let me know in the comments what your hair story is!