Within the history of an American culture dominated by white European Americans, straight hair was often considered the ideal. By embracing expressive hairstyles that are adapted to the natural growth of their hair, African Americans embrace an alternative concept of the ideal outside of the dominant white culture and take on their own identity. This is concept is so common place that it creates a base from where the humor can be understood based on the subject’s familiarity. 

An internet meme referred to as “The Barber”, also known as “Just Fuck Me Up” (Internet Meme Database | Know Your Meme, 2015) [1]  is often circulated through Black Twitter. In recent years, commentators have noted the emergence of what has come to be known as “black”. Pundits describe as a corner of the twitter online space where African Americans engage in discussions of celebrity gossip, political issues, community organizing, fashion, hairstyling, jokes, relationships, art, etc… Many of these issues are commented upon through the use of memes. 

The internet meme database Know Your Meme has categorized and labelled  “The Barber” or “Just Fuck Me Up” as one of the most common meme. The site credits a 2012 tweet from the musician Tyler, the Creator, concerning Miley Cyrus and her new haircut. In his version, he jokes that she told her stylist to “Fuck me up real quick.”  Like many memes, it evolved over time and developed its own informal format with varying themes. This specific meme often features an image of an unfortunate hairstyle accompanied with a brief text. It is written in the format of a short dialogue between the customer and the barber. The text serves as anchorage to the already humorous image of someone/something with an outrageous haircut, accompanied by the dialogue and creates a brief and comical narrative.

Fuck me up

Example of The Barber Meme,

The image  is a screen shot of a post on twitter. It’s important to note the language used in the text. The informal spelling and language in all capital letters, imitates the same kinds of speech patterns and colloquialisms used in the Black Twitter lexicon. Words like “fam” short for family or “bruh” similar to “bro” or brother are common and part of the ever changing slang and language used in social media platforms. 

In the image itself, there are two photographs at different angles of the same haircut on a young black male. Saying that this haircut is unconventional would be an understatement. On his forehead about his right eyebrow is a patch of long braided hair. His hairline has been shaved up towards the top of his head, at an angle. The second image shows the back and top of his head, where spiral is shaved leading to an intentional bald spot. At the base of his neck is another patch of long braided hair, much like what has been coined as a “rattail”. Many of the hair styling techniques, like the fade, braids and and carving shapes and patterns into the hair are common styling practices for African American young males. However, the purpose of this meme is to… these images those techniques are taken to the extreme and so far from the current trends would be interpreted as unfashionable and in bad taste.


Example of Barber Meme, Jaime Wilkins @WarandSetPiece

In the next image, the creator of this iteration of the meme compares the hair style of a European soccer player to a graph of crude oil prices. I will note that this use of the meme exists outside of the realm of Black Twitter, as its creator is a white male living in London, England. But does infer the amount of influence Black Twitter has on online communities and social networking sites. The anchorage in the meme, suggests that Mesut Özi wants his haircut to reflect his interest in the international trade and the oil market. According to Wikipedia, “Brent is the leading global price benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils. It is used to price two thirds of the world's internationally traded crude oil supplies.” This take on The Barber Meme  suggests the notion that hair and grooming is a second skin to publicly signify one’s own interests and life style. Özi obviously didn’t make this type of request to his barber, he isn’t interested in international crude oil prices, but it’s funny to think that he might be.

This meme suggests the possibilities of self-expression through a hair-style. Also the affirmative role of the barber in many of the memes underlines the importance of executing the abstract concepts desired by his customers as outward expressions of the customer’s self. The fact that jokes about hairstyles can be so common, suggests a significant interest in fashion and appearance within in the community. However humorous and hyperbolic, the concept of a bad haircut ruining a person’s entire life suggests an ideology that places a great deal of importance on appearance and identity.  

  1. Internet Meme Database | Know Your Meme. (2015, June 12). The Barber | Know Your Meme. (Cheezeburger Network) Retrieved September 23, 2015, from Know Your Meme:
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