I am a girl. And I have short hair. Short, permed hair to be precise. What are your initial thoughts? Am I a staunch feminist, hacking off my tresses in protest against the patriarchy? A man-hater? Gay? Am I so lazy that I can’t handle the responsibility of keeping long hair washed and kempt? Or am I a confident young woman, making a practical choice which will save me time, money and effort every single day? Failing that, I may simply be a lass who enjoys having and happens to aesthetically suit a mop over a mane. In fact, I like to think I’m just that.
The stereotype of women with short hair is one which is surely now exhausted following relentless dissection in the world’s media. It seems to be a personal choice that the likes of OK! and Heat just can’t seem to get their heads around. Surely, if a famous actress/singer/nation’s sweetheart has gone at her locks with the shears there must be some underlying motive: she’s either heartbroken or she’s on the rebound. Casting her “good girl” status to the wind in favour of the rebel’s cause or making a silent cry for help. Or, like, maybe she’s just sick of having had long hair ever since she can remember. Long hair which almost the entire female population between the ages of 18 and 30 has. Long hair which requires industrial amounts of shampoo and conditioner, a good forty minutes under the dryer and another forty being straightened or curled to socially acceptable perfection. But ladies, listen – short hair is fabulous, sometimes even more so than the mane sported by K-Middy as the only real highlight of her ‘photoreality’ portrait, or the luscious locks flicked nonchalantly back by Cheryl as she implores you to buy L’Oreal because you’re worth it. You’ll save yourself heaps of time and money and you’re easier to spot in a crowd! What couldn’t be more covetable?
Body hair has its own private feminine competition, of course (the longer you spend removing it, or restyling it into some innovative shape, the more womanly you are.) And the same can be said of the connection between long hair and femininity. Long hair requires more effort, and this must therefore make the long-haired masses more feminine in their ways. This is probably the most irritating assumption that follows you round with your pixie crop when you take the plunge. The irony is that short hair, though undoubtedly easier in terms of upkeep, actually needs cutting far more regularly than long otherwise comparisons between Scooby Doo’s Shaggy can be made.
I went through a phase – when I first bit the bullet and had my mid-length hair sheared to cropped perfection – of feeling the need to make myself overtly feminine in another ways, as if to compensate for my lack of Rapunzelite locks. This meant large earrings, more obvious make-up, and hairbands and ribbons to signal my gender, rather like a newborn straight out of the hospital. Thankfully, I soon came to realise that the people who knew me didn’t think that I’d suddenly decided not to be a girl anymore and I stopped worrying. That doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered my fair share of awkward moments, though, such as when a woman muttered loudly, in earshot of my mother, ‘Why is that boy wearing a hairband?’ And the incident when, from a distance, the school photographer boomed through his megaphone the question of whether ‘that gentleman could take one step down on the stand’. Special memories.
One reason for society holding a collectively distorted view on this subject is because the short-haired chicas are all too few and far between in terms of their presentation in the media. Bar Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, and most recently Lena Dunham, not much is going on in Crop Central, gal side. Going back even further you’ve got Audrey Hepburn and Jean Seberg flying the (very tiny) flag. Just as wearing trousers is no longer a statement of equality or girl power, short hair on any female shouldn’t be viewed as a statement of sexuality or social belief. I didn’t cut my hair this way to let you know that I’m an angry anarchist lesbian, dude – if I want to communicate that to you, there are far more direct means at my disposal.
I suppose the crux of it is that if I see girl with cropped hair, I admire her confidence. A cropped mop currently stands for courage in expressing one’s individuality, so good on her for joining the ranks.
But it shouldn’t have to – it should just be a haircut.