Short Hair on Women: Sexy or Socially-Unacceptable?
Why isn't short hair on a woman considered sexy? I don't need any convincing—I find it very attractive! But, sometimes I feel like I'm the only one.
This really baffles me, because I feel like we have made some progress. When I say we, I mean we as the human race. And, when I say progress, I mean in areas of acceptance, free-thinking, equality, and what is socially-accepted and generally viewed as "acceptable" and even attractive, etc. We're not there yet, by any means. But, I feel like short hair on women is something that should be on the list of socially-accepted norms. I know there are more important things to fight for and about, but this is still an issue for some in today's society.
To some, short hair on women is unattractive, unacceptable, and unnatural.
Super Cute Hair Cuts
But what do I know? I'm just a girl.
I've had my fair share of short short haircuts over the years. If I had to guess, I would say I have had more than 6 but less than 12. Well-- it depends what you consider short. If what I consider mid-length is what you consider short, then I've had far more. And if that's the case, it doesn't change anything other than maybe giving me more experience or perspective than I previously thought. I live in a hot desert and inherited very thick curly hair from my mother. There are times when I would have loved to wish my hair away and so I've gotten it cut-- sometimes short, sometimes shorter. There are times when I have truly wanted to shave my head bald, but haven't yet (one social norm at a time). If I did, most of my friends/family/whomever on Facebook would wonder what statement I was trying to make or why on earth would I ever do such a thing. These reasons have nothing to do with why I haven't gone bald yet-- just simply saying. On a side note, I feel like society only associates a woman's bald head with chemotherapy/cancer and Britney Spears' meltdown. What do you associate a bald woman's head with?
Are no famous women fashionably bald or bald by choice?
Can you name a female known for sporting a bald head besides Sinead O'Connor? Let me rephrase that. Can you name one who was bald simply to be bald and not for a movie? Otherwise, yes, I think of Sigourney Weaver and Natalie Portman, too. Anyone else?
And why do people automatically associate short haircuts with being a lesbian?
I'm sure people have assumed it about me. Heck, I have been mistaken for a lesbian plenty of times and they usually happened when my hair was longer than it currently is. I can only imagine what people must think now that my hair is almost shorter than my husbands. But I don't mind. I'm not upset or offended-- the only offense is the stereotype and underlying cavern of double standards.
I'm not trying to blaze any trails. Nor should I have to. I'm being me, and in the course of such I will probably offend and inspire. Regardless, short hair for women has been around longer than me. Every decade, from this one all the way back to at least the 1920s, has had some form of short hairstyle that was fashionable, if only briefly. The subject matter seems so antiquated and yet here we are. I remember as an 8-yr old I saw an issue of COSMO at the grocery store with the headline, "Why he likes your hair longer," and wanting my mother to buy me the magazine so I could read it. She didn't and a few years later, I realized why.
What I Thought About Hair as a Kid
Even as a kid, I knew the boys in my class had crushes on whichever girls had the longest hair. I was tall and always got 100% on my spelling test, which at the time seemed to pale in comparison to a long beautiful ponytail, but remained handy my entire life to date. I also remember being fascinated with the girls who could almost sit on their hair and perhaps needed it in the winter to keep them warm because they weren't allowed to wear pants. I thought they had to be so much more mature than me to have the patience to grow their hair long. This wasn't the case at all, of course. It was a religious school and while we believed in the same God, theirs (or their code) demanded long hair and mine somehow didn't mind.
I recently got a very short haircut.
Fast forward to present day: I recently got a very short haircut. I had been putting my hair up or back for months and while my hair was barely past my shoulders, I needed a break from my naturally thick and curly hair.
I mentioned to my husband that I was considering on a short style. I asked him what he thought. Now, I'd like to make it clear that I don't have to ask my husband for permission to do anything. I was simply considering that we are trying to conceive a child and I'd like to maintain whatever physical appearance that my husband is attracted to. I'm too realistic or considerate for my own good, sometimes. Of course, he reminded me about a haircut I got almost 10 years ago before we began dating. It's a pretty cute story actually.
My College Haircut
In college, I decided to get a haircut that would be very short when compared to the shoulder length hair I had at the time. It wasn't my first short hair cut by any means. But, I had recently become friends with a guy who I was really beginning to like (spoiler alert, he became my husband). I knew at the time that he wasn't a fan of short hair on women. Since we were just friends, I didn't really care and I got the haircut I wanted. I didn't really think much about this information until the time came for him to see my haircut. I panicked a little because I didn't know if he previously found me attractive and if he did, would he still? I realized I was really beginning to have feelings for him. I warned him ahead of time that it was short and when he saw it, to his and my surprise, he really loved it! Later that night, he had expressed how he felt about me. He said the moment he saw my short hair he knew he loved me because I was still just as beautiful to him. He mentioned he was a little worried about how my hair was going to look, but when he saw it he loved it because he realized he loved me.
So I went to my hairdresser the other day as planned. I've been seeing her for just under two years and she knows my husband. When I told her how to cut it she wanted to make sure I meant it, since she never cut my hair that short. She knows my husband and asked if he knew. I told her our "I love you" story for the first time and as a stylist, she could appreciate it. The woman in the chair at the station next to me chimed in that she and her husband were fighting and that she was "spending his money on a haircut that would piss him off." It definitely put a damper on the mood I had just set with my cutesy story. As my stylist began to lop my hair off, the woman again chimed in that "as much as she wanted to make her husband angry, she'd never cut her hair like mine because he'd divorce her." It was awkward. If my visit that day was going to break into song and dance about my new 'do, the only thing that was preventing it from happening was this woman next to me. What do you do or say? I could have said something rude and maybe I should have at least told her to mind her own business, but I didn't. I gave her an awkward laugh and nod. Maybe she was being dramatic, in fact I think she was a little drunk, but everything she said is true.
- I have done crazy things to my hair when I had some life changing event happen—especially if anger was involved.
- And a good chunk of men hate when women have short hair—they forbid it.
When my hair was finished, everyone told me how "cute" it was. Not sexy. Not hot. Cute. Even the maybe-drunk woman next to me told me how cute it was on me—did she think we shared a moment or connection and felt obligated to compliment me? I was still holding back my death stares which was hard to do without the guise of all my hair. I was quite happy with my hair but didn't find it as cute as everyone else did.
I think I can pinpoint when my love affair with short hair began. 1995. The Sabrina remake was released. Julia Ormond looked like a mousy, '90s, perpetual preteen geek (oh how I can relate!) but goes to Paris and cuts off all her hair. She comes back and boys are tripping and causing accidents just to look at her. Granted, she had also started dressing very chic, but her short hair was stunning. This movie taught me that if you're awkward and wear glasses (which I was and did and still am and do), just get a sexy haircut and ditch the glasses so Indiana Jones can fall in love with you. I immediately went out for a sexy haircut that turned out to be everything but sexy. It was a nightmare of a bowl-cut that people called "cute." But the last thing I needed to be was a sexy or stunning 10 year old, so the universe had a way of working that all out for me.
Short Hair in Modern Media
Every Sunday for the last 6 months or so, I have had the urge to get another short haircut. This is mostly due to watching Once Upon a Time when it airs on Sundays and seeing Snow White's contemporary hairstyle. In one episode, she was kidnapped and tied to a chair and I didn't even realize it was her for a few minutes into the scene. I thought it was a younger boy character from the show. I felt terrible and began to rethink my hair urges. I remembered a time as a teenager that a man mistook me for a boy and called me "son" at the grocery store. My dad got a chuckle out of it that night, but I didn't. I wanted to avoid that embarrassment at all costs. All these years later, I can't quite remember how truly embarrassing it was. I thought I was over it.
But then I noticed some stereotypical behavior in myself. In the days following my haircut I have gone out of my way to wear only tight-fitting tanktops that accentuate my bust. I have also made it a point to wear feminine earrings and more makeup than usual. I got the short haircut for desire and comfort but found myself putting more work into my appearance to highlight other areas of femininity as compensation.
So, in our present day culture, why isn't short hair sexy? Why isn't it sexy on it's own? Why isn't it feminine? Why am I a statistic of a stereotype that I thought I was trying so hard to break down? On another note...
It's a shame that short hair is for dying when it really should be for living. Most older women I know keep their hair shorter as they get older either due to thinning or simply because short hair typically requires less upkeep. I enjoyed having long hair-- especially the compliments I would get from total strangers. But in order to keep it beautiful and under control, I was wasting quite a bit of time every day. At the end of the week, it added up. There were many hours spent on my hair that I could have spent elsewhere. It was an eye-opener and I personally felt like I needed to reallocate the time that I was spending.
Heather Says: The trick to short hair—or anything really—is being comfortable in your own skin. The freedom that comes with this can be intimidating to a society of others who aren't comfortable in their skin and then make it uncomfortable for everyone.