Short Hair, Don’t Care

Last week, I cut off all my hair.

Okay, not all of it, but definitely not an insignificant amount.

All big changes come with mixed emotions. With an uncertain outcome looming, it’s natural to feel both enthusiastic and terrified. I certainly felt cripplingly scared of the ten inches I was chopping off for Locks of Love, yet I simultaneously felt giddy and excited to have my hair gone. I actively had to resist telling everyone I encountered in the days leading up to my hair appointment about my decision because I was so thrilled.

I’ve been talking about cutting my hair drastically for months. At some point last summer I woke up and said, “You know, having long hair is way more trouble than it’s worth.” It holds in a lot of heat, which is uncomfortable on sticky August afternoons. True, it does help keep me warm in Ithaca winter weather, but the crisp air makes it radiate static energy every time I put on and take off my big fleece-lined coat. The number of times I’ve shocked myself after simply touching my hair is repulsive.

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So why didn’t I get rid of my long locks sooner if I found them so inconvenient?

Simply put, long hair was in my comfort zone. It was a lot easier to keep it than to adjust to a new way of styling my hair. My everyday hair routine was simple: wake up, smooth the top down a bit, and pin the pieces formerly known as side bangs out of my face. Sure it crackled a bit (okay, a lot) due to static, but I told myself I could handle that in the name of being low maintenance.

More importantly though, I kept my long hair because of bizarre standards of beauty.

disney princessesGirls are told over and over from a young age that long hair is feminine, desirable, and attractive.

Snow White is the only Disney princess with hair shorter than shoulder length. Many scenes featuring Ariel, Pocahontas, and Jasmine display their tresses prominently. For Rapunzel, her hair is what makes her unique and powerful. When Mulan chops off her hair, she does it in an act of rebellion and casting off her femininity–she would never do so under ordinary circumstances. All these plotlines show young girls that they need long flowing hair because it is considered beautiful and womanly. 

Older girls are also expected to want a long, elegant mane. Seventeen magazine’s April 2014 cover flaunts the words “The Hair Issue!” and “328 Fun Hair Ideas!” to encourage readers to revamp their ‘dos. In an issue advertising a wide range of hairstyle possibilities, you would probably expect to see several shorter cuts mixed in with the waves, top knots, and braids highlighted on the cover.

Too bad you’d be wrong. 

lea-michele-seventeen-magazine-april-2014-1

In the entire magazine (including advertisements), I counted 20 total photos that included women with hair shorter than shoulder-length. Of those 20 photos, 7 were part of a double-page spread about a Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair donation event. Another 9 photos were printed on pages focused on cutting hair short. That leaves a measly 4 photos that feature short-haired women without calling explicit attention to the length of their locks. 

Perhaps instead of “The Hair Issue,” the April edition should be called “The Long Hair Issue,” since that’s apparently the only type of hair Seventeen is representing. Whether we realize it or not, what we see in advertisements and other media affects our perspectives about what is normal and desirable, which is why this underrepresentation is problematic.

It’s no surprise that I was terrified to chop off my hair: I’ve constantly been told by men, women, and the media that having long hair is attractive and “correct.” It’s hard to feel beautiful with shorter tresses if everywhere you go, the women lauded for their beauty have locks that extend to their ribs and beyond.

That’s why I decided to chop it all off. The length of my hair shouldn’t determine my worth as a person. I’ve taken the power away from my long hair, and now I get to show off who I am with chin-length locks.

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69 thoughts on “Short Hair, Don’t Care

  1. I can relate to everything you said as I too once made this drastic transition, from lengthy locks, to short, boy-cropped hair. And I know the kind of questions I was asked, ranging from whether I’m experiencing emotional turmoil and so decided to do a Britney Spears to whether I was interested in women! Most people couldn’t quite grasp the idea of a girl cutting her hair short because she likes short hair! Kudos to you though. Enjoy the new crop!

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    • Mine isn’t SO short that I’ve fielded those questions, but someday I do intend to get a more “boyish” haircut and I expect I’ll have to answer them. Thanks!

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  2. Welcome to the Big Girl’s club. I wore long hair for years and just found it to be too much trouble. Oh it’s short on this side, this side is growing and the other isn’t. Oh no split ends! I’d cut it off and on over the years but about four years ago enough was enough and made it permanent. I love my short do!

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  3. That´s ok Victim to charm. In every case, you look great !. You are a beautiful girl. Although, you look well into both , as far as I´m conserned. I´d like to encourage you to change your look as much as you want while you feel sure you´re right.
    Go ahead, you are beautiful.

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  4. Audrey Hepburn. Marilyn Monroe. Princess Diana. Demi Moore (Ghost). Liza Minnelli. Annie Lennox. Miley Cyrus. Anne Hathaway. And even Pamela Anderson now. Traditionally short hair is just as beautiful as long hair. The beauty is it will grow back so you can change your mind according to how you feel at the time.

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  5. One day I’m going to cut off all my hair. One day very soon. I’ve been growing it so I can have it long enough to make a diiference when I cut it for a cancer charity. You look AMAZING btw.

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  6. I once went from long, curly, beautiful (or so everybody said) hair to a mohawk and despite worrying at first that people might look at me funny I actually now enjoy that. Hair is a great way to express yourself and your personality. And short hair is SO much easy to look after! (Think of the money you will save using half the amount of even basic hair care products such as conditioner!) Good on ya x

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  7. Great piece! I can totally relate, as I’m the kind of person who’s too lazy and cheapskate to go to the salon often. I will get a short ‘do and for the next year or so be happy growing out my hair to almost waist length… and then bam! I cut it ultra short. Once-a-year haircut saves a lot of money! That said… I hate the occasional feeling I get when I’m sporting short hair: the fear and doubt that I’m not feminine enough…

    BTW you were sweet / angelic with long hair. Now you look great and sophisticated with your new bob ;)

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    • My hair grows SO slowly, so my locks were 4ish years in the making (although I did occasionally throw in a couple bucks for a trim–why are haircuts so expensive?). Thanks so much! A lot of my friends made similar comments, that the short hair makes me look older and more sophisticated.

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  8. Looks beautiful! I just cut my hair off to and everyone’s jaw dropped. My hairdress said it was so dramatic she had to do before and after’s for the website. I love it and feel a little more sassy then I did with my long hair. Enjoy!

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  9. I have always had short hair, much much shorter than what you have right now, and I have faced a lot of criticism over the years. But in the end, it is what makes you different, and people see you for who you are, not for the curls and waves that fan your face! ;)
    Cheers,
    Sumithra.

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  10. Sabina, beauty isn’t calculated on your hair length or exterior appearance. It’s a lot more important the “inner” beauty, shoving from the eyes or the way you smile.
    You look lovely with short hair as well… good if you feel more confortable with a short cut. I know how you felt… it’s the same with me every now and then when I got for 15 cm cut… but next time is going to be radical. I wish to give my hair to some young person getting chemioteraphy… wigs are so expensive and I want to do something special for someone in need… Hugs from Switzerlands :-)claudine

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    • True, and honestly I feel so confident and happy and even more beautiful (both inside and out) with this haircut. Plus it is a bonus to donate! Thank you for your words!

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  11. Sabina, beauty isn’t calculated on your hair length or exterior appearance. It’s a lot more important the “inner” beauty, shoving from the eyes or the way you smile.
    You look lovely with short hair as well… good if you feel more confortable with a short cut. I know how you felt… it’s the same with me every now and then when I got for 15 cm cut… but next time is going to be radical. I wish to give my hair to some young person getting chemioteraphy… wigs are so expensive and I want to do something special for someone in need… Hugs from Switzerlands :-)claudine

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    • Thank you! It’s a great cause. And it’s funny that you say that because when I first cut it I thought I looked younger too, but all my friends say I look older…

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  12. I am considering cutting off my hair for Locks of Love but I realized yesterday that my mom is getting up there in age. What happens if she loses all her hair? She would probably lose a lot more than that. So, selfishly, I want to keep my hair, continue letting it grow so that if she needs it, I will have it to give.

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  13. I have always loved to grow my hair long then cut it short. It always amazes me how when you cut your hair, the women my age always act like I have finally joined their sorority. They are too wrapped up in their serious-Mom-phase or their “I need the same Sunday School look” as every other country club Mom. They always gush, and say, “Oh, how great your hair looks,” like it must have looked awful before when it was long. It is such fun to say, I grow it for Locks of Love. For some reason, vanity for some never ages. By the way, I think your hair looks lovely, both long and short. It is really your smile that matters most!

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  14. I loved this post! I’ve been cutting my hair short since 3rd grade (I’m in my 30s now) and I never understood the big deal about how long a female’s hair is. There are far more important things in the world to worry about, ya know? God bless and keep up the good work!

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  15. Loved this post, thank you for sharing and addressing some complex issues. I was often identified by my long hair…so I made the chop a little over a year ago. I loved it, but I was absolutely shocked by the mix of extreme responses.

    I actually cut it during a performance art piece, and several older women were deeply offended. You would have thought I was actually causing myself physical harm the way they reacted.

    A few months later I completed this piece: “The Weaker Vessels”, which was kind of an empowering and highly physical piece. I was so glad that my long hair wasn’t there to get in the way. ;) http://artgrappler.wordpress.com/#jp-carousel-546

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  16. Great article Sabina. I really like how you write. It is great how you include your thoughts on long hair/short hair and how you give evidence with reference to mainstream media. Excellent research and a great read! And your hair cut looks amazing!!

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  17. I liked what you said about older women usually having short hair. You forgot to mention those lovely (huh!) perms that seem to be a must have too as you age. I’ll be 70 next year and I’ll always remember when I was 38 my sister-in-law telling me I wouldn’t get away with dying my hair blonde at 40. Well, I still dye it blonde, always have and probably always will. Oh, and I’ve decided to grow it this year after always having a similar bob to you. I very rarely use hairdressers and almost always cut my own hair with the aid of a three way mirror. So what! if you make a mistake it will soon grow out. Take a look at my picture, it’s not that bad and I must have saved a fortune over the years ha-ha.

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  18. I love your cut. It’s flattering to your face.
    I kept my hair long for years. In my early 30’s I developed hypothyroidism which caused my hair to stay limp and thin out. I cut it short. It didn’t look much better because it stayed flat on my head. I could mousse it, tease it, or spray it stiff; but it always fell flat. I worked as an RN, but some people talked to me like I had an IQ of 14. I got a perm and miraculously my IQ jumped up into the 1000s, if based on the way people changed their tone and language when talking to me. I’ve kept a perm ever since.
    I believe a woman’s hair style should be flattering for her face shape and age. Like Carole said, the best thing about a hair cut–it will grow out.
    I like having my hair done professionally. Yes, it’s costly, but it’s my pamper time. Aren’t we all worth it?

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    • I agree we’re all worth it! I’m glad you found something that works for you. I know what you mean about people treating you differently due to a haircut or makeover.

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  22. i so agree with what you’ve written! short hair is classy and refreshing – cut my hair recently and many people would ask why i did it, since “most guys like girls with long hair”. ahem, and it felt so good to say hey, what makes you think that whatever we girls do for our appearances is so that we can look good for the men? :)) really support your move! :)

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