"If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle." Hillary Clinton, 1997
Have you ever wondered why long hair is generally considered more feminine than shorter hair? As I brainstorm various steps I am hoping to take on the route to simplifying my life, my long locks have become a point of issue. When I begin to think about the amount of hours in my life I have spent on the sole purpose of maintaining my mane, quite frankly, it makes me cringe. Between washing, conditioning, masking, blow-drying, waiting for it to air dry when I cannot be bothered to blow-dry, flat-ironing, curling, teasing... talk about a time suck! Ahhg, it's exhausting. And for what?
My hair length is not extremely long by modern standards, though it is the longest it has been in several years and when I look around, it is a similar length to most of the young women I observe on a daily basis. In fact, I have a difficult time recalling friends or acquaintances of mine in their 20's and 30's who rock a true bob or anything shorter. Why? Why is it that young women choose to wear their hair in longer styles? With all the upkeep it takes to maintain these styles, what's the point? Even if you're going for the perfectly placed "I just rolled out of bed" look, which is one of my personal favourites, I can attest to the fact that this look still takes 15-30 minutes to fabricate!
I nonchalantly told my friend the other day that I was thinking about cutting off my hair and she immediately grabbed the end of her long ponytail and replied "really? Wow, I love my hair! I could never cut it!" Does she really love her hair? Or does she only think she loves her hair because subconsciously, she believes that all MEN love it when her hair is worn long? Is it even true that men prefer women with long hair? Do most men react to short haired women in a certain way simply because they think that is how they're "supposed" to respond? Where does this originate?
Alas; Google! Fundamentally, long hair is a component of sexual selection, as long hair is a sign of health and fertility, and therefore signifies that a woman with long hair has reproductive potential; the normalcy of long hair stems from men wanting women for sexual purposes. Well that is just great if we were living at a time when reproduction was the primary purpose of sexual relationships. But what about now? Do we as a society, not all looking to create offspring demand more than simply a physical desire? Women clearly want to be desired and therefore cater to men’s (if that's what they're into...) desires… by wearing their hair in longer styles. Is that really what women should be basing their look on, whether or not men will find them desirable? Do I really wear my hair long for the purpose that "men" will find me more desirable? I just got a gross taste in my mouth...
I try not to dress for anyone but myself. I like to think that there are two general types of dressing styles that women have. The first group are the women who dress in tight, short, skin-exposing clothing which I label as "dressing for men" simply because these outfits are stereotypically what men enjoy, and leave little to the imagination. The second category of women are those who "dress for women/themselves", who are more creative with their wears (see Man Repeller). With these categories, I also do a bit of stereotyping of men, too. There's men who prefer the women in category one and then the men who prefer the women in category two. Each to their own I always say, however my personal preference is category two, because I enjoy fashion, and like it when men also have their own sense of style but I suppose subconsciously also because I prefer people who have a bit more depth… which I think in general people tend to match who they are as a person on the inside, with the person they are portraying on the outside. If they're sense of style is confusing, then it's probably because they haven't quite figured themselves out yet, or… as a person, they are just an eclectic being!
During Paris Fashion Week last March, an event buzzword was 'boyish', which was reflected in the make-up choices, or rather, lack of make-up. The point of looking your best came into question... because what does that even mean? Beauty blog, Into the Gloss asks "is being closer to nature—not feigned ‘natural,’ but actual natural—the new 'pretty'?" And on the topic of gender, if sexuality is a continuum, which I believe it is, can gender also be a continuum? So being 'boyish' can also mean less womanly, but also less manly? If makeup is to mean womanly, as long hair is considered an archetype of femininity, does going 'au natural' mean looking more masculine? Just a thought..
I think that there is something to be said for minimizing and simplifying all aspects of life, as difficult and baffling as it is turning out to be, yet this includes the mind and spirit as well as the body: read, less makeup! Again, at Paris Fashion Week this past year, hairstylist Eugene Souleiman commented on the state of beauty:
“It’s not about major glamour, ‘cause it’s a bit tacky, and a bit vulgar now. It’s about a return to intelligence, for women to be taken seriously and not look like dolls... I think we’ve moved on from that. I think we’re approaching a time of the individual, and things feeling bespoke and character-based—not this man’s view of what a woman should look like”.
What men consider beautiful is interesting to me, not so much the what, but simply the why? If men used to consider long hair to be more desirable than short hair for procreation purposes, is that still the case? The preconceived notions of women with short hair are there, and so I suppose the question is, are these qualities not desirable? What 'kind' of woman wears their hair short and what does this style represent? Around 1988, Anna Wintour became editor of Vogue, and they published the article On Short Hair:
Hair is time. Women with short hair always look as if they have somewhere else to go. Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style. You can't hide behind short hair. Your nape is exposed. Men put their hands around your neck instead of stroking your long locks. You can only pray they have friendly intentions. The backs of your ears show, your jaw line is clear to anyone watching, and you realize --perhaps for the first time-- how wide the expanse of skin is between cheekbone and ear. You may look a little androgynous, a little unfinished, a little bare. Short hair makes others think you have good bones, determination, and an agenda. The shape of your skull is commented on, so are its contents. They can pick you out in a crowd, and you can be recognized from behind, which can be good or bad.
If the majority of men do indeed favour women with longer hair, and if you did enjoy the attention of men, it would definitely require plenty of confidence and strength to disregard this preference and in fact cut your hair. Understandably, this confidence and eccentric nature is what I have always admired about short-haired women. The preconceived notions of these women being bold, courageous and confrontational must to some extent be true, since by DEFAULT, women have long hair! The CHOICE to cut it all off, is therefore an actual choice opposed to doing nothing, and have it grow long. Additionally, short hair is more conducive to leading an active lifestyle since it is easier to wash-and-go, which is why plenty of female athletes and women-on-the-go wear their hair in shorter styles.
My admiration of short-haired woman most likely comes from strong and eccentric female characters that I have seen in films, as well as the few that I have had relations with in person. I think of three specific individuals that I have known in my lifetime who have all worn their hair short at one time: one, the quintessential artist, is a remarkable person and such a unique individual. She represents short hair very well. Another, is very into fashion and rocks the pixie 'do with a badass sass which is something that I have never quite mastered although am always intrigued by. The final that comes to mind is another artist, who I looked up to in high school because she was poised and funny and also very unique.
The few movie characters that I recall off hand include Charlize Theron's character in Sweet November. I simply adored her carefree attitude and how she seemed so strong even though she was terminally ill, and that she wanted to spend the last months of her life helping others.
Natalie Portman in Closer was another character whom I adored. Basically, she was another carefree spirit who lived her life in the present and took risks, had adventures and just.. moved on so easily.
Finally, there’s Keira Knightly in Domino, because she was tough.
I have decided to cut this mop on my head, for a few reasons: I love a drastic change, I think that my time can be used in several more rewarding ways than washing, especially DRYING (uhg) and styling, plus the ends are quite sad looking and the dry cold of Northern Ontario is giving me major static and finally, because I feel like doing away with the conformity of a stereotypical ideal of beauty.
and of course Marilyn Monroe!
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