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FRIDAY, Aug. 16 — The mullet.
For Lansing hairstylist Ashley Medina, its meaning has been determined to be a bold declaration of the personal philosophies of the one who wears the cut. Perhaps more than any other haircut, it’s a style and a statement.
Visualize Billy Ray Cyrus at his mid-’90s country-pop plateau. Comical to some, but striking to Medina.
“He gets made fun of a lot, but I found him sexy,” Medina said. “I’m sorry, but I firmly believe that. He was rocking it.”
But the mullet is more than a relic of the ’80s and early ’90s. It’s a signifier of one’s likelihood of being down to party, the most functional hairstyle dictated by the shape of one’s hairline — or, at its most refined core, a public display of “not giving a fuck.”
Medina has been on City Pulse’s radar a handful of times. She won Best Visual Artist in 2018’s Top of the Town Contest thanks to her colorful, geometric cut and dye jobs. But her fascination with mullets became especially apparent after unexpectedly meeting her at Meijer.
Medina stopped me while I was grocery shopping at Meijer. I used to have long hair that would extend out the back of my beanie, or whatever hat I was wearing at the time. You could easily make the argument it was a mullet. Hell, it was a mullet.
She approached me. “Hey dude, do you have a mullet?”
I said yes, and Medina explained to me that she had a Facebook group that compiles photos of people with mullets she locates across Lansing. We took a photo together and, on my way out, I laughed to myself about what was one of the coolest random encounters I’ve ever had at a grocery store. I laughed harder when I saw our photo on Facebook with a hundred-something likes.
Medina works at Bliss Salon & Spa. Her client when we meet again for an interview is Joshua Lee, a 25-year-old personal trainer. Medina worked her way across his temples with her clippers; she shaped the sides of Lee’s hair into a fade that gave way to a voluminous mullet that draped down his neck.
“Before this, I had long hair past my chest,” Lee said. “I had been growing my hair out for five years.”
What inspired Lee to trade in his long locks for a total ’80s rocker cut?
“Ashley’s mullet. My friend referred me; I saw her mullet and said, ‘I need that.’”
Medina has no shortage of clientele making the pilgrimage to Bliss Salon & Spa on the quest for a mullet. Her Instagram is a hairy Rorschach test — a series of photographed clients wearing a mullet that seems tailored especially for their hair texture and facial structure.
“They come for the mullet,” Medina said. “They say point to my hair and say, ‘I’ll take yours.’”
One client that received the mullet treatment had also met Medina by chance.
“He said, ‘Do you happen to do hair?’ And I said, ‘Why, yes I do.’ And he’s like, ‘Because I want your haircut.’ So, I said, ‘You want this? You know what this is, right?’”
Medina, 40, has been wearing the mullet for 10 years. She adopted the cut sometime around her daughter’s second birthday, after photos from her kid’s party showed a haircut she felt was “unacceptable for a hairstylist.” Desiring something low-maintenance, Medina shaved her head and began growing her signature take on the mullet.
“I was holding onto a haircut similar to a mullet for a while. I modified it for my own personal hair type. There are certain things that don’t work for my hair — I can’t have bangs,” Medina said. “That’s why I’ve designed this hairstyle for myself. It wasn’t until I had the mullet that I realized how many mullets there were out on the street.”
Medina is not an isolated hairstylist and the shaggy grasp of the mullet is extending way beyond Lansing.
“It seems like it’s just coming back in Lansing, but I’ve been following a lot of hairstylists in Chicago and New York City, and there are tons of mullets that have been happening out there for a long time. I think Lansing is a little bit behind; I’m trying to catch us up,” Medina said.
If you want to see more Lansing mullets, search the Instagram hashtags #mulletselfieswithstrangers and #mulletsoflansing.