Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gender Norms, Tropes and My Hair

gender, tropes, hair, feminism, feminine, feminist, stupid,
I'm getting my hair cut for the first time in about 8 months on Saturday (engagement party. not mine, obviously). I want the above haircut. I've wanted that haircut for a long time. It would look better on me than long hair. My hair itself would look better, too. (Actual quote from my doctor: You're too sick to have healthy hair.) It'd be easier to take care of and style, a big plus if holding your arms over your head for any period of time reduces you to a quivering ball of pain. (Blow dry hair for one minute. Rest for two. Blow dry hair for one minute. Rest for three. Repeat literally ad nauseum and you have my morning.)

So, why don't I just do it? I'm independent, I'm a free thinker, I'm a feminist . . . I've looked through 16 women's magazines and found one person with short hair: Rihanna. Everyone else has the long hair I never will- lush, full and shiny like a horse's tail got together with a bolt of satin and made sweet, sweet love.

I watched a lot of tv while my xbox was away, and every sexy young thing has a head of hair to make Lady Godiva weep. You know who has short hair? The dumpy, the frumpy and the old. If a woman is a stressed housewife who lost her sexy long ago, she has short hair. If she's a grandma, short hair. If she's hopelessly geeky and not about to be transformed into a superhotty, short hair. (Oh, and lesbians. Apparently, lesbians' hair stops growing after it reaches 2" long.) Just because universe hates me, for the 30 seconds the tv was on before I turned on the xbox last night, I caught a preview for some new movie in which the male lead's solution to the female lead's lack of man was longer hair.

The worst part of all of this is that I know how stupid my hesitation to have the hair I've always wanted is. My hair doesn't look good long. Most people's hair doesn't look good long. I can count on one hand the number of women in real life I've seen with tv hair. Everyone else has a mop of frizz, split ends or grease. That's because models and actresses are paid to have great hair. They have a team of hairstylists placing every hair just so before any pictures are taken. I don't. Yet here I am, my own woman, independent and capable, being held hostage by gender norms and tropes.


  1. Y'know, the last girl I loved had really short hair when I met her and she was, like 22 at the time. I thought she looked amazing.

    She started growing her hair out towards the end of things and now on the rare times I see her I can't help but think how much better she looked with short hair. Of course that could be at least partially explained by the fact that I don't think of her the same way any more so she'd be less attractive to me no matter what. But, still, there's a point in there somewhere...

    Oh, yeah, this: do what you want to do. It's your life and if it works for you I don't think anyone who actually matters will complain.

  2. Do it!

    Actually, I can sympathize with you. I had the haircut you posted above when I was 6 and everyone thought I was a boy. I've never let my hair get that short again- even though I know full well that women with short hair can be beautiful. Right now, my hair is the longest it's ever been and it's so much harder to take care of than short and short-ish hair.

    Anyway, I'm getting my hair cut today and as much as I'd LOVE to just shave it all off, I'm certain I will just get yet another trim.

  3. You know the female lead on a show I watch, Primeval, has short hair. It's a bit shorter than above pic, spiky and cute and sexy as hell.
    Long hair is hard. I grow mine out for a few years and then cut it all off and donate it, but if you donate it it has to be in good condition. And that is just so much work. So I say, go short and sexy! I wish I looked look with hair like that, it would be awesome.

  4. Don't forget how gorgeous Halle Berry was with short hair.

  5. At 6, boys and girls look pretty much alike. You know, it might relate to being 6, though.

    I had hair down to the small of my back until the 6th grade. When I was 5 or 6 my mom got sick of taking care of it and told me that if i didn't start washing/brushing it myself, she would have my hair cut off. In retrospect, I'm sure she meant cut to my shoulders, but for some reason I thought she meant cut ALL of it off.

    I washed my hair every day and brushed it about 20 times a day from then on.

  6. Doooooo iiiiiiit.

    (I got my hair cut short about two months ago - it was my first significant haircut ever. I love it. Except having accidentally come out to my parents this week I'm just waiting for them to ask if it's related to the hair.)

  7. Well, duh, Rebecca. If you watch tv or movies, you know lesbians all have short hair.

    That may end up being a side benefit, actually. Maybe all the guys that feel compelled to yell things out their car windows at me will assume I'm a lesbian and stfu.

  8. I am not afraid to experiment with my hair. That's the one part of my me that WILL ALWAYS GROW BACK.

    But maybe your hesitation means that deep down inside you don't really want the short hair.

  9. lorena may be right. i'm kinda resistant to change, though, too. even if the change is good, i want things to stay the same.

  10. "That may end up being a side benefit, actually. Maybe all the guys that feel compelled to yell things out their car windows at me will assume I'm a lesbian and stfu."

    Actually that may cause them to yell more if they think your a lesbian.

    Anyway go for it. I cut off my hair back in February, I think I look better with short hair and my gf agrees.

  11. wait a minute, guys in cars like lesbians even more? what happens to you people when you get into a car?

  12. They like the idea of lesbians, and they only picture porn stars as lesbians. Also they expect lesbians to be bi. Us guys are weird.

  13. yeah, no kidding. it's what comes of having that unsymmetric XY combo.

  14. That's it.
    The cat is out of the bag.
    The worms are out of the can.
    You want it.
    You want it so bad you blogged on it.
    If you don't do it we will call you a "fraidy cat" (as if you'd care.)
    And we will need a pic or it didn't happen!
    Go for it, PF!!!

  15. so, um... my hair is almost to my knees. if i make an effort, i have great hair. and the other 350 days of the year i have the easiest bun in the world.

    but that is just me. i my experience, short hair = more work than hair long enough to throw in a bun (i don't even brush it half the time)

    you, on the other hand, look a lot like the SOLE character from Twilight that i like, Alice. get a fun cut - if you hate it, you can always get extensions, a wig, or it will grow back...
    or, as an alternative, DYE it. (you'd be surprised how good dying your hair makes it look...) just a little change might enough to scratch the hair-itch without bothering the change button (if that makes sense...)

  16. your hair is fabulous, denelian. if my hair looked like that long, i'd never think of cutting it.

    alice, huh? my niece totally wants short hair because of alice. i tried reading the books, but they were HORRIBLE. bad writing, misogynistic, blech!

  17. Alice is the *ONLY* character that i liked. i had to read them all, because i am the Official Judge of Books That Niece Wants.

    gods, i wish i had thrown them all in a fire. but ALICE! the movie doesn't even do her justice, and Movie Alice was awesome!

    my hair is, i'm pretty sure and snark aside, almost totally the gift of genetics. as if my DNA said "well, look what we did there, and there, and oh dear, *there*, we have to make it up to her - oh, i know! Anime hair!"
    actually, it is entirely possible that i am nothing more than a botched clone of Rapunzel :D
    (didn't i send you a long and dreary email about all the things you shouldn't do to your hair? do you think anyone else would like to hear this list? there was more i didn't write, because i was, as i am now, just babbling on and taking up space - but if you or anyone else wants to know all the things besides genetics that lead to my hair, i'm willing to write it all out :)


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