“Ask a woman about her hair, and she just might tell you the story of her life. Ask a whole bunch of women about their hair, and you could get a history of the world.” So best-selling novelist and journalist Elizabeth Benedict did just that for her latest book Me, My Hair, And I: Twenty-Seven Women Untangle An Obsession. Released yesterday, she’s edited a compilation of essays from 27 accomplished writers, who go to great lengths to help us understand why… hair matters.

Described as “surprising, insightful, frequently funny, and always forthright,” the essays that make up the book are written by the likes of Hallie Ephron, Anne Lamott, Rebecca Goldstein, and Honor Moore, to name a few, who each wax poetic on a different hair-related topics. Here’s a “tease” of what some of these notable, acclaimed, best-selling, and/or award-winning women writers discuss (and there’s more here)…

Adriana Trigiani on trendy hair:
“I figure when Madonna gets scared about changing her hair, something is about to blow again, like Vesuvius.”

Marita Golden on black hair:
“If you are a Black woman, hair is serious business. Black women’s hair is knotted and gnarled by issues of race, politics, history, and pride.”

Anne Kreamer on going gray:
“Much to my surprise, when I stopped coloring my hair, time began to slow down, in a good way.”

Maria Hinojosa on curly hair:
“As I came to accept and even love my wild hair, it became a way for me to feel power that I had never experienced.”

Alex Kuczynski on waxing:
“‘Very beautiful.’ I will never forget those words. I associate them with shock and vulnerability—and chafing.”

Deborah Feldman on covering hair:
“Eventually I threw away my wigs. I abandoned the community that had forced me to wear them.”

Suleika Jaouad on lost hair:
“Chemotherapy is a take-no-prisoners stylist. I was angry at the teenage version of myself, for nitpicking over the color and texture of my hair, when now I had no hair at all.”

Patricia Volk on products:
“High-functioning hair obsessives rarely go it alone. We have a team. The products, the people.”

The essays are “reflections and revelations about every aspect of women’s lives from family, race, religion, and motherhood to culture, health, politics, and sexuality.” And layered in between are tributes to influences throughout history: Jackie Kennedy, Lena Horne, Farrah Fawcett, the Grateful Dead, and Botticelli’s Venus.

“The long and the short of it,” as the Me, My Hair, And I book synopsis notes, “is that our hair is our glory—and our nemesis, our history, our self-esteem, our joy, our mortality. Every woman knows that many things in life matter more than hair, but few bring as much pleasure as a really great hairdo.”