Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In Defense of the Short-Haired Woman

Salon ran a piece on Monday titled “Are short-haired women less attractive?” Let’s look past the headline (couldn’t it have been “Is short hair less attractive on women?”): Mary Elizabeth Williams—an intelligent writer whose work I enjoy, and who I think is a little off the mark here—writes that long hair has a peculiar hold over “nearly every straight man on the planet,” which makes me wonder how many straight men on the planet she talked with for this piece. Because I think she’s right in that a lot of men believe they prefer long hair—and wrong in that when it comes down to it, they don’t actually care all that much.

When I was 24, after having forever had hair that ranged from long to superlong, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirrored window while on a jog. I saw this floppy ponytail swinging behind my head and all of a sudden was disgusted. There was all this dead matter on top of my head, and it was there because I thought I needed it to look pretty, and I sprinted home, grabbed a pair of fish-scaling scissors, and cut off my ponytail while standing over my kitchen sink.

I wanted to know what it was like to not have my hair to fall back on. For no matter how unattractive I felt on any given day, I always had this cloak of hair to protect me: I might be ruddy-skinned and have uneven teeth, but you couldn’t challenge the fact that I was, quite definitively, a girl. The month before I chopped my hair saw me writing on my body with Sharpies, riot grrrl-style; I was going through a sort of “quarterlife crisis” and was ready to challenge the notion of what it meant to be a girl—and what it meant to be pretty, or not-pretty, as the case may be.

I wasn’t able to articulate all of this while I was hacking off my hair, though. I only began to understand my intent when I looked in the mirror and saw that I actually looked better with short hair, and for a brief moment actually felt disappointed. My hair had more volume, since it wasn’t weighed down by length, drawing attention toward my eyes. It elongated my neck, highlighted my collarbone. It was playful—far more appropriate for a 24-year-old than the heavy curtain I’d lived with until then. I loved it.


Here’s the thing: I wasn’t alone. Yes, my girlfriends cooed, and my gay guy friends were a-flutter. But straight men loved it too. Some told me specifically that they preferred short hair on women. Some just said I looked great. A couple stopped me on the street; she wanted to know where I’d gotten it done so she could ask for the same style, and her male companion stood beside her, beaming. I was told it was sexy, daring, becoming, pretty, flattering, sophisticated, flirty. The number-one compliment I’d received from straight men on my long hair? “Wow, your hair is long.”

To be sure, not all of the straight men in my life were fans—I heard “You look great, but I miss the long hair” more than once from my dude friends. But for every one of those, I’d hear, “I normally don’t like short hair on chicks—but it really works on you.” I report this not to point out my uncannily bewitching allure (by all means, bring it up in comments), but to point out what I think they were really saying: I’ve grown up surrounded by images that equate long hair with sexiness, but damn if there isn't a part of me that knows what I really like.

If men prefer long hair, it’s often because it’s hard not to prefer what we’ve been told is attractive, much the same way I think I prefer tall men but have gone out with enough short ones to know that when it comes down to it, I don’t actually care. Unless we consciously recognize that we have a preference that deviates from the standard—hairy men, say, or gap-toothed women—we’re likely to go with the flow. I’m sure there are plenty of straight men who truly, inherently prefer long hair on women. But in my experience, the bulk of straight men who default to liking long hair on women just like women.

The success of long hair as a signal of attractiveness is perhaps the best example of a culturally imposed beauty norm there is. (You may argue it’s the thin imperative, but as many a fat activist has pointed out, that’s pretty recent. The Three Graces had ample bottoms. They did not have pixie cuts.) And yes, I know, I know—hair is a symbol of virility, and long hair is proof of a woman’s fertility once we shed the furry coat of our hirsute ancestors, and the religious and cultural mores surrounding women’s hair go back centuries. I’m not saying the whole thing is a conspiracy of The Man; I’m saying that when Williams reports as proof of long hair’s sex appeal that you don’t see short-haired chicks on the cover of Maxim, maybe that says more about Maxim than it says about men. And let’s not ignore the men who, despite the Maxim maxim, heartily prefer short hair. Michelle Williams’s pixie cut may have been inspired by, as she says, “the one straight man who has ever liked short hair,” but the number of dudely commenters on the Salon piece proves that Heath Ledger was not alone. “Short hair is very very sexy.” “Better to see a beautiful neck.” “I’ve always had a thing for short-haired women”—I didn’t have to look hard to sift out comments from men who specifically identified as straight who love short hair. They are legion.

Still, I’m not disputing that long hair has an allure. In fact, I must believe it does: My hair now nearly reaches my waist. It was an accident at first; I lost my job in the 2008 crash, and slowing down the haircuts was an easy way to save money. I wore my hair in an updo through the following spring and summer, and by the end of 2009, I was back in the land of the long-haired. I decided to keep it long until the following spring (I like the neck-blanket it provides in winter)...and that spring passed, and then another. The truth was, I liked having long hair again. I like being able to play with it; I like curling it on occasion. I like the feeling of brushing it, I like feeling it spill onto my shoulders when I take it down. I do wear it up most of the time, but I like the way wearing my hair loose delineates private life from public life: Since my hair is down at home and up in public, as a general rule, the only people whose mental image of me has long, flowing hair are me and my boyfriend.

And until today, I thought my boyfriend secretly preferred my hair long. I say “secretly” because his answer for the past three and half years whenever I ask him if he likes an outfit, a hairdo, or a lipstick shade, has been, “I like what you feel best in” (which can be maddening when I want to look nice specifically for him, but that’s another post). He’s not into traditional gender roles in the least; I only believed he preferred my hair long because he’d started stroking it whenever we’d watch movies at home. He's always refused to state a preference, but when I played the blogger trump card of “but it’s for a post!”, he acquiesced: “If I had to choose, I actually prefer short hair. It seems more like a choice, like the woman is more self-determined or something, since long hair is supposedly the default.” For the past couple of years, I’ve been telling myself that one reason not to cut it was because I thought he liked it. I’d assigned him the default in an effort to reconcile my own shifting attitude toward the length of my hair—and I’d assigned it inaccurately.

I’m not about to run out and cut it just because I finally know what he’d prefer—but that’s beside the point. Williams certainly wasn’t implying that women shouldn’t sport short hair simply because men might not like it; in fact, she concluded by saying that idea is “ludicrous,” and also pointed out that being comfortable enough with oneself to buck convention is an allure in its own right. That’s where she hits the nail on the head. Short hair, even when worn by the most prim among us, is a decision. It’s a decision to get more regular haircuts than are necessary with long hair; it’s a decision to commit to a more limited style. And I’ll argue that for many short-haired women, it’s also on some level a decision to challenge traditional femininity. Certainly not every woman with short hair possesses the confidence Williams alludes to, nor does every woman with flowing tresses lack it. But if you’re willing to shrug off one simple way that you can supposedly up your conventional attractiveness, I’d say that speaks to a certain “it” factor. Women who have always had long hair may find that through other ways. But women who have gone pixie know that there is, quite literally, a shortcut to the destination.

60 comments:

  1. What gets me about this discussion is that I endured DECADES of grief for having long hair. I was made to feel like a complete freak because I wouldn't cut it short like everyone else in the '80s, when I was a teenager. Very, very heavy pressure to wear short hair. And now it's the opposite? Hilarious. Btw... the pressure I endured was entirely from women. You are right - straight men like women, and they aren't picky about the details.

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  2. I find that most women that look good in short hair would however look better in longer hair, but that's just my personal opinion. It looks great on you, though.

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    1. I do agree with your comment. please keep it up.

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  3. I once had a very traditional gender roles-y guy that I accidentally dated for a couple of months tell me that the reason that he liked (nay, insisted on) long hair on woman was that, essentially, no one would ever mistakenly think he was walking down the street holding hands with a guy. I celebrated dumping him by cutting my hair. Short hair is a great weeder to get rid of guys with archaic attitudes like that. I like the notion that it seems more "self-determined". There are guys who really don't think self-determination is attractive on women...maybe that's what they're secretly disliking about short hair.

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    1. "I celebrated dumping him by cutting my hair." - loooove that sentence !!!

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    2. My goodness I sooo agree with the "Short hair is a great weeder to get rid of guys...." I experienced this. At 22 cut my hair off and I swear my fan club shrank in the best way. The men that approached me were like fine wine and genuinely toom the time to admire me very strange. And through out the article I also agree that we are as people ao cobditioned to find only certain thing "beautiful" because it's everywhere we look the same beauty. Tisk Tisk!

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  4. The only guys I've ever known who insisted they only liked women with short hair have either been very young or very retrograde. Like, they were fairly insecure themselves, and so they wanted to be with women and girls who were stereotypically, obviously Hot, because that was how they proved their worth as men to themselves.

    My husband, on the other hand, says he thinks I'm hot no matter what my hair looks like. He likes it when I cut it in a short bob, and he likes it now that I'm growing it out. I don't think that's an unusual attitude for straight men to take because, as you said, most straight men simply like women. The more secure the man, the truer this is, I think.

    I often admire women with short hair and wish I had the courage to pull it off. Unfortunately my height and my strong features mean that whenever I've cut my hair in the past, strangers refer to me as "sir" and "mister," which I find kind of uncomfortable. It's funny - I'm not all that terribly invested in my femininity, and yet there is something about being misgendered that makes me feel weird. Maybe I am more invested than I thought?

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    1. Nah. I get misgendered sometimes (I have a different problem: a very round, androgynous face) and it makes me feel uncomfortable too. I think it's just because we know exactly what we are (female) and it's a little disconcerting when other people don't.

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  5. My husband professes to prefer long hair, but he stops in his tracks and says "wow" whenever I get a sharp, short little bob. However, he didn't have the same reaction at all when I went pixie. I guess he likes "feminine" looking short hair? But bobs are so unforgiving when it comes to being lazy about getting to the salon. And I always find myself wearing a lot more makeup when I have very short hair. Now? Two small children = ever longer hair with home-hacked bangs.

    Oh, I also feel as though I need to be thinner to pull off short hair, whereas I feel better about extra pounds when my hair is long and flowing--3 graces indeed.

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  6. Very thoughtful post on short hair!

    I think as a long haired woman, I wonder if I am "hiding behind my hair." About once a month, I decide I'll chop it all off. It's untamed. Unruly. Annoying. But, you know what? I like it and I don't care if I hide behind it.

    Society matters, but at the end of the day, every person (man or woman) should decide for themselves how they feel most comfortable whether that means having dead hair on top of their heads or none at all.

    Amazing post!

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  7. My experiences mirror yours; while I grew up believing that all men prefer long hair, dozens have told me otherwise--- and the first time I shaved my head, I got more male attention than ever before.

    Personally, I like alternating between long and short hair. Keeps things interesting.

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  8. Interestingly enough I have had a similar experience being a man with long hair. I did get teased a lot by various people during college (when I started to grow it) but numerous of my female friends love that I have long hair.

    Honestly I don't think it should matter. Hair length is just a stylistic choice, I know women who look super hot with short hair and terrible with long hair, I also know women who are the complete opposite of that.

    Everyone is different and everyone has their own 'look'.

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  9. This topic has been on my mind for a while. When I visited Toys R Us recently (yes I am 23 and visted Toys R Us, we needed a nurf ball). I decided to stroll down the barbie isle to see what they were looking like these days and they all had long hair, not just medium long, but really long. I could not find one who had short hair.

    I think part of our culture has shown us images that long hair is normal for a girl and only the "different," "unique," or "power women" go for short hair. Not the pretty girls.

    I often go back and forth with if I want short or long hair. My mom always tells me "I love your long hair, don't cut it!" What does that tell me? It tells me I am only beautiful with long hair.

    Thanks for the post, it was interesting to read.

    So we see images of long haired barbies, magazine covers, and our peers or family our ingraining what beauty is to us all the time.

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    1. I'm pretty sure barbies have long hair so that it's easier for children to play with it and style it

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  10. As you pointed out, one problem with short hair is that you have to keep cutting it if you have an ideal length that you want to maintain. With the long hair I have had for the past 40 years, I only cut it when I feel like cutting it - and so have eliminated one more nagging upkeep concern from the list. (But damn, I still have to dye it approximately as often as I would have to cut it to maintain an ideal length - it grows a half inch every three weeks, just enough to change a good haircut from cute to unkempt, and to produce a skunk line that must be addressed.) As for hiding behind my hair: that rings a bell. I am very tall, and I think I originally grew my hair out to look more feminine, and over the years I have realized that it is now something of a distinctive characteristic that people expect from me. But I don't feel tempted to surprise them - I'd rather just keep it the way I like it, since the ones I care about don't really care whether it's long or short.

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  11. I think you look great in short hair and that the confidence (having short hair) gave you made men want to call out how great it looked.

    I definitely do not think all women can pull it off and look "hot" though. It's about the neck, jaw and size of head. I cut my hair short in my early 20's and it was awful. Looking back, really, really awful. It aged my by at least 15 years!

    I agree with the comment that most guys who prefer short hair tend to be "very young or very retrograde". What prompted my short hair in college was hanging out with a bunch of insecure boys in a band. They liked girls with pixie hair cuts (and pixie bodies) so I thought I could at least get half-way there.

    I also agree with the long-haired dude. Everyone has a look. Not everything works on everyone.

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  12. I have had some form of a pixie cut for most of my adult life, and I love it! I grew my hair out last year, and I enjoyed it, but the upkeep was time-consuming, and honestly, I hated that my hair looked like everyone else's. I cut it all off again and have never felt better! I love that my look defies gender stereotypes, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't love all the compliments I get :)

    P.S. I LOVE YOUR BLOG, I read it religiously. Thank you so much for the effort you put into it!

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  13. I consider my pixie cut to be one of my beauty "trademarks." I've had short hair pretty much my whole life, with the exception of when I was in elementary school, a few years in college, and after my first child was born. I'm petite and have fairly delicate features, so I've always felt that long hair just overwhelms me. I'm also very active and found that when it was long, it was always in a braid or ponytail.

    My mom has always had short hair as well, which was probably a big influence on my style. I remember when I was five years old that she took me out to get the Hamill Wedge :)

    I've found that I get a lot of attention in general for my short hair. People start conversations with me about it and tell me they wish they were brave enough to do it. I'm also aware that a lot of people tend to look at me when I walk into a room, restaurant, store, etc. Since I don't think that I have a gorgeous face (it's conventionally pretty enough, but nothing particularly special), I've always attributed it to my hair (and maybe the rest of my style?

    I like Cynthia's comment: "Short hair is a great weeder to get rid of guys with archaic attitudes like that." I made a choice in junior high school to cultivate my own style and idea of beauty since I knew it was futile to compete with more conventionally attractive girls. I've always assumed that my short hair, visible large tattoos, and the piercings I had when I was younger in particular would weed out anyone who was more into conventional style.

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  14. My hair has been very long and very short... I felt the most "myself" with shorter hair, but have liked the throw-it-in-a-ponytail convenience of longer hair. I know a lot of people like short hair because it's more wash-and-go, but I have the opposite experience: I love styling my short hair with funky layers and products, and can't stand to leave the house with wash-and-go short hair because I'm paranoid that it makes me look like a boy from the early 1990s (remember the "butt-cut"?) Oh, and I admittedly like the flexibility to turn myself in to stereotypical blonde bombshell when I have long hair. Sadly, when I am at heavier weights I like being able to hide my rounder cheeks and extra chin behind my long hair... I am often self-conscious about these things and avoid my beloved shorter haircuts because they put my face front-and-center. It's sad.

    As for responses from men, I seem to exude more confidence and sass with short hair. Not sure what come's first (confidence or short hair!), but men seem to like the combo! My husband fell for me with short hair. :) I'm pondering going short again when my no-mirrors project is over, but I'll have to see how I feel about it in March!

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  15. A topic near and dear to me, as you know. Interestingly, my husband really didn't like it when I went from shoulder length to short. But when I went from short to pixie? He loved it. Sometimes it just takes the right style.

    But overall the idea that "guys like long hair" just seems preposterous to me. As you pointed out, Autumn, hetero guys generally like ... well, women. Period. Any hetero guy who passes over a woman because of short hair has some pretty effed up priorities.

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    1. ^^ good one, I like the "effed up priorities"...hahahahaha.....that is true though. If he's the guy for you, then he shouldn't have a problem with you at all. If he is in love with you, he wouldn't care, the hair wouldn't matter...everybody is different. I had long hair, i'm only 16, and my mom cut hers. I got a pixie haircut, then I shaved the sides, got a mowhawk. Then I just said screw it, got my hair like pink. And now I'm trying to grow it out a little more, try a new pixie haircut. And a lot of people have been staring at me. You see, i'm a tomboy, but I know how to clean myself up, I like being girly, mostly at home, don't really let people see that side. I realized that you don't have to have long hair to feel good about yourself, or worry about if people think if your a lesbian or not. I don't particularly care. Besides, none of their business, and none of my business what they think. As long as they don't get in my path with negativity, I'll be fine. ;)

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  16. I'm thinking about the evolution of my own hair.

    Until I was 26-27, I had long hair for a lot of the reasons commenters here mentioned -- large body, round cheeks, non-delicate facial features. More than a few people told me I couldn't pull off short hair.

    Then I noticed that the vast majority of the time, I just pulled my long hair (no bangs) back away from my face in a ponytail, which was probably less flattering on my face than any short cut could ever be. So I cut it.

    When I first cut it, I got a layered wispy pixie, and I was conscious of that choice as a cut that still looked decidedly feminine to my eye.

    As I've become more comfortable with short hair, I've done more experimenting: shorter, spikier, and generally further away from what I've seen as more "acceptably feminine" short cuts (e.g., a pixie versus a buzzcut).

    By and large, the reaction to my short hair has always been positive. It's actually become increasingly positive the more I experiment with short styles (minus the occasional bad cut, but that = 2 months out of 3 years). I think some of that is aesthetic -- I'm figuring out which cuts work best with both my facial features and hair texture -- but some is also a reaction me feeling good about my hair, which is not something that actively happened much when my hair was long.

    There have been isolated instances when people have: a) asked whether I was a feminist (like it was a bad thing); b) asked whether I was a dyke (like it was a bad thing); c) called me "sir" and giggled -- So in that case, I'm thinking my current fauxhawk functions very well as an Asshole Detector.

    Speaking of which -- time to go get my hair cut!

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    1. One of my favorite posts on the subject so far-you go girl! And I am a longtime fan and wearer of the pixie cut, thankyouverymuch!

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    2. This reply made me lol - especially the bit about the Asshole detector! I've had long hair and short hair, cut into a spiky pixie, a bob, a mary quant, a pob, a farah fawcett.... and I like myself better with shorter hair. So I'm keeping it short, and if anyone has a problem with it, that's not my concern :)

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  17. You might enjoy this http://fr.43things.com/how_i_did_it/view/105239/how-to-shave-my-head I shaved my head for a year and a half, but finally let it grow in a little because shaving it every morning got to be a pain. Now, every three weeks, I buzz it 1/2" long and bleach it platinum blond. Just a little effort for a really nice, unusual look. Some really big, flashy earrings and I'm good to go.

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  18. Men prefer women to look good.

    And most women look better in longer hairstyles. As Sascha said, a lot of women look good in short hair, but would look better in longer hair.

    I really think guys couldn't care less if you had long hair or short hair as long as you look good and feel good about it. Unless they are douchebags, but those guys don't deserve your attention or time.

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    1. I disagree. A ton of evience in the modelling and movie industry of the opposite, starting from Tiggy (unsuccessful at modeling UNTIL she cut her hair), Marilyn Monroe (who looked WAY hotter then when she started out as a long haired brunette - with her signature short curly bob), Halle Berry (that looks 1000 times better with short hair), recently Karlie Kloss, who looks way more editorial with her newly chopped hair and started a tren (girls are now asking hairdressers for a 'Karlie'), top model Stella Tennant (that looks trannilicious with long hair, chic and modern with short hair), Milla Jovovich (started out with long hair, got famous when she finally chopped it all off, and looks best with her from short to a bob), and personally I prefer Anne Hathaway an dMile Cyrus with short hair too. Model Agyness Deys looks manly with long hair, that enphatize her rather large jaw, but she became a supermodel with her signature short platinum cut that make her look softer and draw attention to her beautiful eyes. ANd the list of women who actually look BETTER with short hair goes on and on.

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  19. Some of us with very delicate hair don't really have much of a choice - shorter, healthier hair is certainly going to look better than longer, dry, broken, flat hair. I would so like to have locks spilling over my shoulders, but it's just not going to happen so I stick with my angled bob. Thanks for writing about it in a way that makes me feel good about what God has given me.

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  20. I absolutely love this post !!

    I'm confused, I had short hair (rihanna style) for about 2 years and I always felt amazing, sassy and confident. I've started growing it out and it's at my shoulders right now. I hate the way I feel about it, I don't feel as confident but everyone is suggesting I grow it out. My hair is super healthy and i have big waves-- i know it would look good long but I feel very typical with long hair & because I'm short and starting my career soon I feel as if I won't be taken seriously. I know it's just hair and it will grow back I'm in a crazy image-crisis! Suggestions anyone?

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    1. Brandi, I ran into a lot of people telling me to grow out my hair too. And I like having long hair, but I think that people still default to long hair as what women "should" wear. If you feel more confident with short hair, keep it short! You know who is the most vocal advocate of me cutting my hair? My friends with short hair. I think people project their own thoughts onto our own looks.

      Maybe try going a week without makeup at all to sort of hit the "reset" button? That's one of my goals for this year myself, because while my level of makeup doesn't correspond with my hair length, there are definitely times when I feel like I need to be very made-up and times when I don't, and I want to get to the root of it.

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  21. I also want to go for a more natural look-- like less makeup, I feel with short hair that i have to wear more make-up for some reason?

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  22. ....I also like a natural look better, as in less makeup and I can't figure why i feel as if I need to wear more makeup when my hair is shorter ? I can't figure out whether I should just chop it off because that's how I feel best or if I want to chop it off just because I'm tired of trying to grow it out..

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  23. What a wonderful post and great comments. As someone who had great thick long blonde hair that went pixie short and platinum it was life changing...honestly I never got more dates than when my hair was extremely short...which my current boyfriend loves. That's not to say everyone likes short hair and not all women look good in short hair either. If they did, more women would do, it as I found it to be very liberating on a lot of levels. Not just the ease of it, but to feel men attracted to you while wearing short hair, knowing most men prefer long hair can be very empowering...or it could mean hair is not as important as we are lead to believe in the attractive quotient. Also, I work as a flight attendant and I can tell you, the European and artsy types love the short hair the pilots? (military background) not so much. In my humble opinion attractiveness between the sexes is very personal and sometimes ambiguous. A beauty is a beauty, is subjective short or long hair. Many James Bond Girls sported short pixies and one is currently married to Richard Gere and had a pixie when they met. In the last few years, I grew my hair out it out to my shoulders and dyed it a beautiful dark chocolate brown and kept it that way for 3 years...all I heard from my boyfriend was when are going to cut that hair? Dark hair dye is hard to get out of naturally blonde hair without damage so what did I do? I buzzed it off with a number 1 blade and sported real crew cut. Brave huh? (that's another story) Why do I cut and re-grow my hair? I do it because like most women I know we like change. It's fun, it's experimental, it's how we reinvent ourselves, because we can! Lastly, my favorite doll when I was young was this Chrissy doll (I know my age is showing) I loved how she could, with the twist of a button could sport long, med or short hair..ahh every girls dream.

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  24. hi ii am david palacstino women with floor lenght hair uasully cut ther hair in a bob but no one understans me this goes out too all woman with that lenght i love them for what they are but i am wating

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  25. First of all, I have very short cropped hair and I am very attractive and beautiful to the men who see me, so to say that not so pretty girls cut their hair all of is ignorant, it us usually the other way around. The women with the bone structures to carry it off and the extremely attractive women who can carry it off, it is usually the homely types who hide behind all that hair to define themselves as women. I am damn bomb ass and I get plenty of attention. It is how I carry myself as a woman that defines me, not the length of my hair!

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  26. It is also a bunch of bull that younger guys prefer shorter hair, I am 47 and I get more attention from the men my age because of the way I carry myself, most men who are intimidated by strong women who are capable of making their own decisions are not man enough for me.

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  27. This post resonated with me in part because of your mention of dead matter. Years ago I was sitting in the subway watching people get off the train, and I was thinking to myself, "All that dead tissue on everyone's heads that we make such a big deal of--really it's kind of gross." I sat there looking at everyone's dead tissue, and I missed my train.

    Not long after that, I cut my hair (excuse me, my dead tissue). Or rather, someone cut it for me--I admire that you were able to just chop it off yourself! Bravery!

    I love my short hair and got tons of compliments (including straight men) when I first cut it--so many that I started to think, "Shoot, did I really look that bad before?" = )

    Totally agree that men are taught to prefer long hair. Many tout that preference as a sign of their masculinity, at least in my experience. I've noticed that the men who tell me "I like your cut, but really I prefer women with long hair," are the ones who tend to be not too confident of their masculinity in their first place--as judging by their constant talk about how hot various women are, or how many guns they (the men, not the women) have, etc.

    Super post.
    Christina

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  28. It's funny, my mother has never had hair longer than chin-length, and in fact, most of my life, she's had it about 2 inches long all over. Recently she's grown it back out to chin-length, and I've never seen her look so "feminine".

    The reason this is funny is that whenever I make noises about getting a haircut, she flips out and tells me I shouldn't and that she likes it "just the way it is". It seems really hypocritical.

    But then, when I think about it, it may be because she loves my curls (she and my two sister all have fine, completely straight hair). Maybe that's what it is.

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  29. For two years, I've been teetering on the edge of cutting my hair very short. It's always been long, and the blonde color works well, I think it looks good. Lately (the past year), I haven't had time to get it trimmed, and my ponytail is about 18 inches now. I recently realized that the tips of my hair have been attached to my body for a disgusting length of time, much like your

    Your post put me over the edge. I am going to sack up and actually do it. I want to be free of this gross dead weight, and be pretty without it. Thank you so much for the affirmation and encouragement!!

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  30. It's such an interesting issue. It goes the opposite way too -- right now in our culture "handsome" for men means having short hair and being clean-shaven. Long hair on men *can* be seen as exotically sexy, like the pixie cut for women, but most people don't approve of it for the average person. (Personally, I vastly prefer long hair and beards on men, but I am aware that I am part of a small minority!)

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  31. Thank you for your *extremely* well written post! I'll be sure to check out the rest of your blog now. I ran into a friend this past weekend whom I hadn't seen in years. She went from (as I knew her) long, shoulder-length or longer brown hair with no styling. Now she has a pixie cut dyed with a reddish brown tint. I've never seen a short hair cut look so flattering! And now I'm hankering for one of my own. As I"ve been reflecting on why I want it recently (and if it'll be a huge mistake! gulp), I had the same thought you had and one which I've never seen mentioned elsewhere - I wonder if I've been hiding behind my hair. I've always had bad skin. It's much better now, but I think it's time to exude more confidence if I can. And it's starting to get really hot! Thank you for a fantastic post and I'll be sure to share it on FB!

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  32. I love the post and the responses. I am 45 and have had short hair (a cropped bob, longer than a pixie but shorter than a swing bob) for about 15 years. I have recently let it grow and have gotten compliments, but I crave the freedom I felt without hair on the nape of my neck. Short hair *feels* sexier, freer, and more beautiful to me on me. I don't have perfect features, but I have a long neck and the bone structure and confidence to carry it off short. Though I'm a little wistful about cutting it (it is getting compliments and I do feel a little younger with it longer), I'm really ready to feel free of it. My advice: Don't listen to what anyone else thinks! It's an exercise in independence to choose how you look, how you feel about yourself, how you present yourself to the world. The men who count will love you for you, not for the length of your hair.

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  33. I find short hair attractive, though this could be more about what it means than the style itself. When I see a girl with long, stereotypical hair, I jump to the "security blanket" conclusion. This, of course, is often untrue. Short hair, on the other hand, exudes confidence. Of course, from the heterosexual male perspective, not all women look good with short hair. Some are too masculine, or it just isn't the right style.
    If you take anything away from this post, it should be that confidence, not hair, is the most attractive trait of all.

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  34. This is a great post you have!:) Since cutting my long hair which I have kept for almost 10 years, I start experimenting with different kinds of short hairstyle to the recent pixie cut and I love it! But it was really annoying when some people didn't know how to appreciate short hair and told me to grow back my long hair.

    It was really dishearterning and feeling a little angry as cutting off my long hair is a considered a sense of freedom and independence from a abusive ex-boyfriend who restricted me from cutting short hair as he prefers long hair. I cut it to show that I have broken away from him and have become a independent women.Besides that, I have always wanted to cut short hair and it is the latest fashion statement.People who do not understand hair fashion and constantly asked me to grow back my long hair, it feels really irritating.

    Thank you for this post. It really speaks out the pain most of the short hair girls are facing. :)

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  35. I am 18 and a short while ago I cut my longer than shoulder length curly hair into a boy cut hairstyle. I actually did it myself, because I can be impulsive, but it was because my hair was damaged and gross. I also felt like I looked just like everyone and that I was stagnating in both my hairstyle and my life. Another thing is that short hair is something I was curious about like I have to do it at some point. I don't know how I feel about it now, it has grown out a bit and I've just been wearing it in a short ponytail a lot. It felt wonderfully freeing, but I also feel very exposed. I think of myself as confident but cutting my hair has pointed out to me, unexpectedly, that I am not as much as I thought.I'm going to grow it out long again, but I don't regret it, it's been an interesting experience and a boredom buster at the very least. I think that a short haircut is something everyone should do once to get it out of your system if you know what I mean, so you don't have to wish you did.

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  37. This article and these comments are definitely confident boosters! I'm an 18 year old female and I have always had long hair (mid back to lower back). I now have short hair (pixie length) but this was not my choice as I had cancer and am just now growing my hair. I would have never cut my hair on my own and I thought it quite dissapointing to be starting college because I felt un-beautiful, and was going to be surrounded my all new people and not my high school friends. But if anything I don't give a cuhotts. Beauty is about you. It is very refreshing to see I am the only girl in my classes with short hair - makes me feel special and unique and not just another person a part of the crowd. I notice myself exhibiting a more positive, confident demeanour. Stay Strong!

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  38. I have gone pixie after having it medium-lengthed and then grown out to long again - which took me ages. But at some time I will go short again, it's such a freeing thing and I don't know why people make such a big deal about the freakin hair.
    I've seen woman who are absolutely more stunning short haired than ones with long hair.
    and true, I've received also more compliments having it cut short , cannot remember one compliment on having it long.

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  39. oh and yeah, I really like your post and all the opinions written below. it is actually nice to see, or to read that I am not the only one thinking that beauty isn't defined by the length, color or structure of hair. Greets from Germany

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  40. I am Native American, and long hair is deep in my culture. Along side that cultural influence, we are surrounded by imagines of women with long hair. I have always had long hair and love having it. I'm pretty sure that I will never cut it. Hats off to you for identifying with what you want.

    Given this, due to wanting to grow my hair out even longer...I decieded to keep it in two pig tail braids. At work, I notice the guys who I find normally difficult to talk to give me more eye contact when my hair is hidden in braids. I notice that my boss's boss also seems to be more open to conversations with me. Are these men intimidated by long hair? It seems that is so. When my hair is down and curled, I seem to recieve more warm interactions from some men, but more cold interactions with others (less eye contact...etc). When my hair is up and hidden in braids, I get the vice versa reaction. The majority of the men with warm reactions are those when my hair is down. However the men with the warm reactions to the hair hidden in braids are more dominant types of men. I think part of the reason is that the more dominant men seem bothered by someone who appears to "hide" from their hair because they assume that the women have long hair are immediatly using it to hide themselves behind it. Of course the men who prefer the hair hidden aren't all dominent men, but it seems to be the majority as of right now.

    I'm still going back and forth. Thanks for the post, really good!

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  42. I loved your article. I am one who always had long hair and just recently had it cut to an Asymmetrical Bob with a graduated shorter back. I did my research on facial structure and hair styles before I decided. I was surprised at all the compliments that I received from men and women. I get more attention now than I did before, which I find confusing. Because I was raised that you had to have long hair to be beautiful. I feel more beautiful now than I did with long hair. I am glad I did it. Click my name for before and after photo.

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  43. The one thing I disagree with is that most men like long hair b/c of social conditioning. I believe that if space creatures ever descended upon earth, without prejudice, the first thing they'd admire is women with beautiful long manes. The beauty of the hair is simply intrinsic. It is the rare woman who improves herself with a drastic cut, IMO. LOL

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    Replies
    1. Or maybe they would be scared of that dead thing hanging on women's head. What an argument is that for God's sake xD

      Delete
  44. Love this post! I've had bobbed hair on and off since middle school (I'm 30 now), and have been really missing having the shorter version of the cut. I've grown my hair out in the past year, mainly because I've been feeling a little bit insecure and long hair seems like the default "I'm definitely good enough and pretty enough" setting. As usual, longer hair is just not for me and honestly it just feels like it's EVERYWHERE. I think I am for sure going to go with my gut feeling and get a haircut soon!

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  45. Maybe a little late to the table, but I really enjoyed reading this article. I've had very long and very short hair throughout my life, and I always feel more feminine with the shorter hairstyles.

    Unfortunately, I currently find myself in a job where having short hair just isn't realistic with my very tight schedule...I just can't find the time to properly style it and it frustrates me when it gets unkempt. It's just so much easier to toss my hair in a bun and go, despite how drawn and old it makes me look. So, I've decided to make a nice pixie cut my retirement gift to myself. Though, now having read this article, I may give my short hair another chance...

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  46. I googled 'feeling pressured to grow my hair out' and found this blog post. Perhaps there was something quite naive in my progression through adolescence but I find myself a little uneasy with the strong responses I receive in relation to my short hair. Compliments often express admiration at my ostensible 'bravery' and criticism seems to establish some apparent impropriety on my part for having the gall to be other than the norm. But in truth, I cut my hair because it is easy to maintain for my hair type and also because I like how short hair frames a head and how it allows other parts of a woman's face, neck and back - parts of the body I find very beautiful - to see the light of day. It was very simple for me, neither a statement to shock or a marker of defiance. I suppose it was an exercise of my free will to execute something that I had for myself thought about and found pleasing. And that is what artistry is to me; arranging life to what is pleasing. We all do this in our own ways and I enjoy seeing a variety of looks and styles because it makes life richer.

    I am 23 now and my parents recently commented that they would have liked me to grow my hair longer. I admit I felt sad then because I could see that they felt a little embarrassed by my being not what they considered pleasing.

    But after some reflection I have come to the view that we must, each of us, women and men, stop to think about what we (we) really value, how we wish to live our very short lives, and then come to recognise that there will always be others, even those closest to us, who will disagree with our vision. And when that disagreement arises, which it nearly always will, we must be mature enough to humbly accept that we are all entitled to our own views and values. Thankfully, living in Australia, I am able to have my hair quite as I wish and almost be grateful that there will be those who like it and those who do not because it's a signal that we're all of us freer than we sometimes think we are.

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  47. Yes...I absolutely agree that short hair is very freeing. It is in my opinion a liberating form of self-expression..! <3

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  48. I stumbled upon this blog when I googled "feel less confident with long hair" after a totally satisfying short haircut drew mixed response from my friends and acquaintances whom I considered to be open minded and tolerant. Out of the 20 years of my life, I have always had short hair of various lengths and style for 17 years. During my entire school life I had a pretty cute short haircut and contrary to popular perception, never had any trouble attracting guys. But since college freshmen year, I started growing my hair. The reason: that is the right thing to do. You may have short hair in school, which is in itself pretty weird, but short hair in college is a no-no. I have naturally thick, black hair that impresses any hair stylist I've come across, and in a culture that considers "normal" women synonymous with long and thick hair, it was to be expected that I would grow my hair. And I did. At least I tried. For 3 long years. And at last I got so frustrated, I went to my stylist and cut my hair short. And I loved it.
    And next came the funny part!! Two of my friends were in complete shock!! They were like, "why would you do such a crazy thing?? what was wrong with your long hair?". The answer was, everything was wrong with it. I was always very self conscious, never felt comfortable with my appearance. my big nose looked bigger, long forehead longer. Given the fact I had gained weight in the past years, I felt the most disgusted with myself. I couldn't even flaunt my oh-so desirable long hair, all I did was tying it back in a ponytail or making it a knot at the back of my head.
    But now that I've cut my hair short, I finally feel my confidence is back. I love everything about me now. Moreover I feel beautiful. Those girls who almost humiliated me because of my haircut, have naturally beautiful facial structure, figure and are typical beauties. As long as I had long hair, I always felt lacking in terms of physical appearance. That insecurity is no more.
    P.S: all my other friends loved it... they said I look better and different and that its cool and also suggested colouring a few streaks. And to those girls I said, "It's MY hair I've cut according to MY wish that I like, I don't see the problem here. I'm not forcing you to chop off your hair. And besides, as long as I like it, your opinions, although welcome, are not important."

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