And, yet, there’s much more to it than that. At least, judging by the amount of analysis, appreciation, and significance we devote to it. I recently got my hair cut short after wearing it long for a while, and I was surprised by how my acquaintances interpreted my decision. Or, really, that anyone interpreted it at all.
I have pretty non-descript hair. It’s straight, brown, and thick. All the way through high school and college I wore it in a plain bob with the occasional sparkly pin thrown in for pizzazz. When an event called for fancy, out came my curling iron (Exhibit A: helmet hair a la senior prom pictures).
After I graduated and moved to New York, I decided to go short. Really short. Having super short hair turned my plain look into something much more interesting. Short hair put the focus on my face, and made me feel bold and sexy. I wore more lipstick and mascara with short hair. I experimented with products to make it spiky, slick, smooth, or funky. I had fun with it, and it suited me. So, I wore my hair that way for about ten years, through those all-important twenties. My hubbie had never even known me with anything but short hair, and my friends who did know me before all but forgot what I looked like any other way.
But, anything gets old after a while. I started wondering what I would look like with long hair. I wanted to brush and braid my hair, things that I hadn’t been able to do since I was a little kid. So, I let it grow. And grow. It was as much a decision based on negligence and laziness as on style, really. Not getting it cut was easier (and much cheaper) for me, especially now that trips to the salon require me to arrange for childcare.
It was different, novel, and even kind of fun to have long hair. But, I missed my signature look. I missed standing out in a crowd. I missed rocking a look that set me apart in a sea of long-haired women. After I finally went back to the salon for the big chop, I practically skipped down the street. I felt the way that vanilla ice cream must feel after it finally gets its hot sauce and cherries.
What surprised me was the reaction I got. People assumed all sorts of motivations behind my decision to cut. Some suggested that I had cut my hair short because of the hot weather. Or, for convenience. Or, so I wouldn’t have to think about it. One friend noted that many “middle-aged women” cut their hair short because they already have husbands and so no longer need to worry about looking sexy or attractive.
It’s weird that we so associate femininity and women looking good (read: attractive to dudes) with having long, flowing locks. Contrary to what some people concluded, I didn’t think: “Well, I need a low-maintenance haircut, so I’ll go for it, despite the fact that I am basically neutering myself and stripping myself of sex appeal.” I actually think… wait for it… that I look hotter with short hair. Yep, shallow as it might seem, I was only considering my looks – not ease, not temperature, not convenience. I was going for hot and sexy with this here short ‘do. So now you know. And you can continue to analyze at your peril.