October 18, 2021

The trending news last week concerned the Arkansas boy who won USA Mullet Championships.  Allan Baltz is a 12-year-old sixth grader who was adopted out of foster care when he was about 4-years old.  Baltz had already faced trials as he had been born with a rare genetic syndrome.  His mother, Lesli, heard about the USA Mullet Championships and told Allan he should enter.  Allan had no desire to enter until he heard there was prize money, with the top prize of $2,500.  Allan decided that if he won, he would donate the money to organizations which help foster kids find their forever homes.  USA Mullet Championships announced the winners on its Facebook and Allan won the title in the kid’s division by nearly 900 votes over the next closest competitor, with 25,178 votes.  Lesli Baltz said, “He has a ridiculous mullet now.  The boy we adopted through foster care instantly wanting to give back.”  Allan is all business there.

When I looked online, I found there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the US. They range in age from infants to 21 years old (in some states) but the average age of a child in foster care is more than 8 years old.  There are also slightly more boys than girls.  Children and youth enter foster care because they have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents or guardians.  All these children have experienced loss and some form of trauma.  In other ways, foster children are no different from children who are not in foster care.  They are learning and growing, playing, hanging out with friends, and they need the love and stability a permanent home provides.  Allan was provided his permanent home, and his mullet became his expression of acceptance.

The USA Mullet Championships Facebook page says the history of this business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back style has been around way before it was popularized by actors and rock stars in the 1980’s. According to some historians, the mullet has been around since at least Ancient Greece, where the style was as much for function as it was for fashion.  Cropped hair around the face with longer locks in the back allowed for both visibility and a protective layer of hair for your neck.  Homer even described a haircut that sounds eerily familiar in The Iliad: “their forelocks cropped, hair grown long at the backs.”  The Greeks weren’t the only ones sporting the mullet.  There is evidence that Neanderthals and our oldest ancestors would wear this ‘do’, as well.  Divisions in the mullet championships included kids, teens, men, and lest the women be left out, femullet.

Thoughts:  When I worked for the State of Utah, I sported a mullet for a short while.  What I liked about the style was the business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back aspect.  This allowed me to grow my hair long but keep a trimmed look for the lawyers and businesspeople who came into my office trying to impress me.  I must admit, at the time I did not know the style was called a mullet.  The Mullet Championships page rated Billy Ray Cyrus as fourth on their list of ten iconic mullets.  Cyrus’ achy breaky mullet of the early 1990’s is what caused me to drop the hairstyle.  I found I was neither achy nor breaky enough to sport the style.  Hair styles are often associated with cultural movements.  That is true for both the mullet and the weave popular today and it was true of the long-haired hippies of my youth.  Hair styles can provide instant acceptance into a group, or they can alienate the person from outsiders.  We need to see beyond the image projected and take time to know the person within.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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