There are many, many reasons I wouldn’t bet on my survival in a dystopian future. Lack of hunting skills. Reliance on clean drinking water. Pale, friable skin (that ozone hole, man). But there’s one particular stickler: heroine hairstyles.

For high school soccer matches, a friend would typically braid my hair on the bus, possibly out of sheer boredom (or pity for my obvious lack of skill). I’ve never forgotten the thrill of tearing down the field while an opponent yelled “pigtails! Someone cover pigtails!” With those braids flapping against my shoulders, I somehow felt faster.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t something I could replicate at home. How much better would my life be, if I could just braid my hair? I just couldn’t get my hands to cooperate with my vision.

While WWOOFing with a coppicer in the Malvern Hills in 2013, it took me almost three times as long as the other WWOOFers to do any sort of weaving project. I would stubbornly pull strands of pliable wood over and under and over and — crap. Made a mistake. Start over. Meanwhile, the others were on their way to making baskets in complex patterns. The whole cottage was dotted with useful, handmade items. Reeds woven together to form screens and rope. Spoons and stirring implements whittled while sitting in front of the fire. If they needed something, they damn well made it themselves.

And this was all without the difficulties inherent in a YA-style apocalypse.

In a world rife with radiation and disease (Maze Runner, the 100) and oppressive totalitarian government systems (Hunger Games, Divergent), braids are universally badass. I get it, I really do. They keep your hair out of your face while you’re shooting arrows, wielding a sword, jumping from trains. You know, the usual day-to-day. Katniss and Prim get their mum lined up as live-in stylist despite the Depression-era conditions to construct their signature braids. Somehow, the entire female population of the 100 maintain pristine heroine hair despite spending 3/4 of their time covered in blood, mud and sweat. Lexa, seriously? 

Luckily, Thomas isn’t distracted by his hair. He’s too busy learning the complicated and somewhat unnecessary glader lexicon (The Maze Runner). The gals don’t arrive on the scene until much later in the piece. Teresa doesn’t give a damn either way and ends up crushed to death for her flippancy. Life is brutal when you can’t braid your hair.

Maybe it’s best just to hack it all off, like Tris (Divergent) and Brenda (Maze Runner) and bow in the face of increasing heroine hairstyle pressure. Or just stick with the trusty ponytail.

I’m just hoping survival won’t come down to my ability to braid, or I’m going to be a dead weight. Literally.

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