The Vagenda

It’s Just a Fucking Haircut




Like everyone else who is done with puberty and has managed to cling onto a sense of proportion, I don’t take a lot of interest in Miley Cyrus, the former Disney star who is apparently corrupting millions of young girls by wearing bikinis and smoking legal substances. Yesterday, however, even I was made aware of her latest highly publicised decision: to cut off her long hair.


My initial reaction to this information was, “Who cares?” but quite a lot of people did care and these people had no hesitation is expressing their disgust at this fashion choice. “Miley Cyrus is now a boy … I thought she was getting married but I guess now she changed her mind and she’s a male” said one YouTube user, who I’m assuming was never told that having a haircut isn’t the same as having a sex change operation (or, indeed, that men can actually marry other men in some places). A mock Twitter account of Severus Snape joked that Cyrus was “trying to look like Draco Malfoy”. The internet seemed to be unanimous: you can’t be a woman and have short hair at the same time. Sorry, Miley; we’re going to have to revoke your vagina. Your new penis will arrive by first class post in 4-5 working days. In the meantime, you might want to do something about those breasts. 

However, it soon became apparent that it was not just Ms Cyrus’s appearance that was causing the Twitter users of the world to take to their keyboards. According to Twitter (and if we can all agree on anything it is that information found on Twitter is always utterly infallible) the hair she cut off was donated to a cancer charity. Donating to charity is great and, if this is true, I’m pleased that Cyrus chose to support a good cause. For the users of Twitter, this changed everything. Soon I was seeing posts like: 






That’s right, folks. She might have committed the terrible misdeed of cutting the hair that grows on her own head but she’s redeemed herself by raising some money for charity. Presumably, these people believe that if she’d cut her hair because she thought it might look nice (the horror!) then calling her ugly and questioning her gender would be perfectly justified. So if we want to be horrible about a girl’s appearance then we just have to pick one who doesn’t have the means to make big charity donations. 

I can’t say I am particularly shocked that the internet feels that a pretty, young girl has to justify cutting her hair off. It goes without saying that long hair has been associated with femininity for as long as anyone can remember. I could probably count the number of women I know who have cropped hair on one hand, while the friends who wear theirs at elbow-length are the ones whose hair receives the most compliments. You might see the occasional fashion magazines might praise the pixie cuts of actresses like Michelle Williams or Carey Mulligan, but most of the women we are told to aspire to look like have hair that looks like it should be being swished around in shampoo adverts, as do the women who top the countless “Sexiest Woman” polls in men’s magazines. As the enlightened and thought-provoking woman in the above mentioned video says, if you want to be a woman you have to have “long, beautiful, luscious hair”. Actress Emma Watson, who had her long, wavy hair cut into a pixie crop in August 2010, has said that her short hair made it more difficult to find acting roles and even prompted journalists to ask her whether she was coming out of the closet. When actresses like Watson and Cyrus, who found fame playing wholesome characters when they were only children themselves, cut their hair off, we are told that they are “shedding their good girl image”. The media convinces us that cropping your hair is a career move, a publicity stunt. These women can’t possibly think this looks good, so they must be doing it for another reason. 

Frankly, this is utter bollocks. Cyrus’s haircut is just that: a haircut. It’s not a rejection of femininity, it’s not a political statement and it’s certainly not an attempt to change gender. It’s a haircut. The boys-have-short-hair-girls-have-long-hair mentality may be ingrained but I think, deep down, we all know it’s ridiculous. The person who presented Tilda Swinton with her Academy Award didn’t say, “Hang on a moment, this is the award for Best Supporting Actress but you’re clearly a man. Go and sit down, you short-haired fraud; we’re giving this to Jessica Alba because she has proper girl hair.” No one is going to question Annie Lennox’s position as the female artist to have won the most Brit Awards just because of her short, “unfeminine” haircut. And sometimes men even defy this convention too! Take Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean or Chris Hemsworth as the title character of Thor. All these characters have long hair, but are they accused of being women? No. They are strong characters, fighters, and also considered to be very, very attractive by a lot of people. Do we ignore the fact that Aragorn is a brave and skilled warrior just because he has “long girl hair”? No. 

When a woman in the limelight makes a big change to her appearance it always comes under scrutiny but cutting off long hair is always seen as one of the most radical things a woman can do to their appearances. Rihanna and Katy Perry dye their hair colours that don’t even feature on the spectrum of natural human hair colour and they still get less attention for it than Miley Cyrus has with this haircut. More to the point, the public seems to decide that any woman who crops her hair must want to look like a boy and therefore has opened herself to being fairly mocked and ridiculed – unless she did it for a good cause, of course. 

Well, no, actually, that’s not how it works. If you are willing to make spiteful comments about a woman, even go so far as to question her gender and sexuality, because of her hairstyle then you’re a nasty person. Even if you take back your mean comments when you find out the person you’re insulting did something nice, you’re still a nasty person, now with added hypocrisy. When a woman breaks one of the conventions of femininity that you so desperately cling to, she’s not wronged you in any way. 

Cyrus is clearly pleased with her haircut, as she has posted several photos of herself since she changed it and has tweeted that she has “never felt more me in my whole life” and feels “so happy and pretty”. Why isn’t this a good enough reason for her to cut their hair? Why do people feel that we accept this hairstyle because of her alleged charity donation rather than the fact that she is happy with how she looks? Ultimately, if the hair isn’t attached to your head then you don’t get to decide what happens to it. Women shouldn’t have to make charity donations in order to justify a haircut. 

- RB

25 thoughts on “It’s Just a Fucking Haircut

  1. Mega big likey thanks for this. I am sick and tired of the generic insult I get, regardless of what I’ve done to offend, as being ‘you look like a lesbian’. Dudes, grow the fuck up. It’s short hair. I look like a depressed horse with long hair. I look like a badass with short hair. Rock gods with long hair do not get called girls. Get a new perspective.

  2. It’s bizarre how she’s been treated. It’s not vastly different from the ‘do sported by crossfit & weightlifting athlete Samantha Wright, who just the other week was being feted as a sex symbol, held up as an example of how women can be strong, athletic and feminine & cute at the same time. Miley gets the same cut & suddenly she’s a guy or butch lesbian? Gimme a break!

  3. Funnily enough I have found I get more negative comments from other women about my short hair than from guys.
    From guys it’s usually something like “I always thought I didn’t like short hair on girls but it really suits you!” or “Would you ever grow your hair again? Because I don’t think you should, you’d look really young if you did”.
    From girls it’s “So when are you going to grow your hair back? I think you’d look pretty with long hair, you should grow it” or “Don’t you miss being able to do stuff with your hair?”.

    • That was what I thought, but she’s said in a few interviews that because it’s “very specific” (read: not like women’s hair is meant to be) it’s better for her career if she grew it out. Considering she’s so beautiful and famous, and therefore marketable, I was surprised wigs and hair extensions weren’t considered an option, too. :/

    • Acting is a very difficult sector to find a job in since it’s always casted on looks. If you’re new, it’s mostly luck into finding a role where you look the part. Once you look the part you then must become the part.
      In terms of hairstyle, yes there’s such things as wigs however, it would be easier to cast a role to someone who has the hair, fixed into place, rather than a wig which has to be styled at every attempt and shot. In addition, wigs are itchy and irrative. Imagine having to wear one of those, shooting the same scene over 20 times.

  4. I had a pixie crop a few years back and I loved it. I got a lot of compliments at the time but I’m pretty sure my lack of love life at the time can be attributed to the hair style (I’m straight btw). No men ever approached me whereas they have before and after the hair cut. I now have a bob haircut. I spoke to my boyfriend recently about wanting to cut my hair short again and although he said I should do whatever I wanted to, he also mentioned that he did not find girls with short hair attractive. hmph. My friends also seemed horrified that I would want to cut my hair short and said I would look like a boy. Although I still think short hair looks amazing on women, and I think it suited me, I’m not brave enough to do something to my appearance that 99% of the population think is unattractive. For now I will just obsess over this tumblr until I’m feeling less wimpy:

    http://fuckyeahgirlswithshorthair.tumblr.com/

  5. I think this is people not being able to cope with finding out she’s not who they thought she was, but who she is and realising they don’t own or control her.

    Anyone who lived though the 1980′s will tell you that the trend for a large part of it was for women to dress like 12 year old boys, including page-boy haircuts and baggy, shapeless clothes. If you dressed any other way or – heaven forbid – wore your hair long, you were either a “tart” or pandering to the misogynist desires of a male-dominated society.

    At the end of the day, it’s just labels the some people like to stick on others as an excuse to be shitty to them. ‘Twas ever thus.

  6. Ye gods I just read an article about it and saw this comment ‘I think she looks like a lesbian, of course liam will eventually break ip with her because she wont like having sex with him, she should try meeting some nice butch chick, that might make her happier, or she might just wanna put the crack pipe down. Poor poor rich snobby bitch’.

    I replied linking to this post and this cartoon http://xkcd.com/481/

  7. Thank you! As a fellow cropped-headed female i really appriciate writing like this, these ridiculous gender stereotypes have just got to end. I am not sexually confused – my hair is just a different length.

  8. Oh I dunno, when I had cropped hair (I was getting divorced, it’s almost compulsory to cut your hair off in those situations), I used to get lads following me in clubs muttering, ‘I bet you’re a right dirty bitch’. I’m a bit stern looking so perhaps they thought I was a weekend dominatrix.

  9. I totally agree, and the need for this post is hugely depressing.

    On the otherhand though, guys do get stick too. I’ve known several guys who have/had long hair, and all of them regularly have/had strangers on the street informing them that they looked like girls. (That doesn’t detract from the argument that is shouldn’t happen to women of course, just because someone is a tool to a guy doens’t mean they can be a tool to a woman. they should just not be a tool.)

    Maybe I’ll go live in a hole somewhere away from society.

  10. Whilst I agree entirely with the basis behind this post, I must just point out that the YouTube video you linked to and mentioned twice is actually a spoof, and the woman speaking in it is a comedian. Her comment about women having “long, luscious hair” is a joke. She’s on the same side of the fence as you!

    Not that I’m trying to detract from your point at all but it does slightly undermine the authenticity of the argument!!

  11. I know a boy who cut off his luscious locks after overhearing two complete strangers in the street. He was kissing his girlfriend when two women passed by and said ‘Ewww, look, lesbians!’. I guess that’s all it takes when you’re 15.

  12. I cut my hair today I usually do every 8-12 weeks (peach fuss short), at the usual salon, different barber. It’s always a different barber they’re always male They always ask me the same dreaded question: “Why do you always cut your hair ?” and I always go armed with different answers like “it grew out” “I hate combing” the one I used today is “Cause I look hot with short hair” what I wanna say is :why does it matter to you? Why do I have to justify myself to you? But I don’t because I know what they really want to ask me is “why are you are not like every other female?” or are you gay?”

  13. My question is, how much do women pay for these short haircuts? I use a men’s barber in Central London near the LSE. I get charged between £10 and £15 depending on how long my hair has grown since the last cut. Why do women having similar cuts get ripped off for a lot more? Why do you all put up with it?

  14. CENTRAL LONDON FOR 10/15 POUNDS!? WTF! Right, so if i have a sex change on the NHS and got a £5 megatrain ticket from nottingham to london i’d save 7/12 pounds. yup. £27 in hucknall town (NOT even the city!) for a hair cut.

    Honestly, I use groupon now, i can get my hair dyed and cut for £29, because some women apparently pay an adverage of £90 to be disappointed with their trip to the hair dressers.

  15. What I REALLY hate is people using ‘lesbian’ as an insult. It’s a particularly insidious form of abuse. I don’t know why lesbian is necessarily seen as bad – I’ve even caught friends of mine saying things like ‘are these shoes a bit lesbian/her new haircut totally makes her look like a lesbian’. Why on earth is that a bad thing? I know plenty of hot lesbians! All boils down to same assumption our only purpose in life is to attract men, anything else is treason.

    • Right on. The most attractive and vivacious woman I have had the pleasure to meet is a lesbian. But then I’m biased. Using ‘lesbian’ as an insult is an expression of old-fashioned stereotypes and just highlights the speaker’s own bigotry.

  16. This article makes a very good point, but I’m not sure if “elbow-length” hair is really accepted as a fashionable choice either – glancing, for example, in those horrible magazines hairdressers show you to help you explain what kind of cut you want (if, like me, you distress them by just saying “um, a bit off the bottom and maybe tidy the fringe?”), the “long” styles are very rarely longer than just below shoulder-length. I think there’s actually a very small range of ‘approved’ haircuts in terms of modern perceptions of femininity; at the short extreme, you’re accused of being a lesbian (and, as an above poster pointed out, what exactly is wrong with that?), at the long extreme you’re looked upon as a probable hippy / medieval re-enactment kind of girl.*

  17. This is one form of sexism that cuts both ways to a large degree. We do not “ignore the fact that Aragorn is a brave and skilled warrior” for his hair- of course not. He merely GETS AWAY with his long (Ha! You call that LONG?) hair because he is a fantasy character. All of your examples are: an orcslaying king; a comedy pirate; a hammer-throwing Norse God. They get to have long hair because they existed in a time where one went adventuring without company of a barber.

    I have long hair. Properly long- not “Aragorn long”: LONG. I am also a man. The countless times I have been spit at, punched, and insulted for having hair growing out of the top of my head (baldies are bad too- apparently male hair is acceptable only within a narrow range of lengths) is innumerable. I don’t get punched much, now- I’m all grown up and too big to take on (ask a smaller man how he’s doing with his long hair- if you can find one); spitting is down at least 60%. I still get the insults. Almost daily.

    None of this is to detract from the stuff relating to women and their hair. It’s all still there, and all just as bad. Just don’t try to claim that this is another case of “men get to do what they want and women get judged”. Nope. This is pure “It’s shameful to be a woman, so why do you look like such a little girl?” territory.

  18. I had my hair cut from past shoulder-length to pixie crop a few years ago, and the (girl) hairdresser was horrified, and asked me several times if I was sure I wanted to do it. I did, but I had to go back the next day because she hadn’t cut it short enough.
    I’m lucky that I suit both short and long hair, and I definitely did not have any problems attracting men when I had short hair, actually my current boyfriend has seen photos of my past and sometimes teases me saying I should get my hair cut off again :)
    For the record, I don’t much care about Miley Cirus, but I think her short hair is lovely and really suits her! (As does Emma Watson’s. Gorgeous)(And Rihanna’s, she looks way better with short hair than long)

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