After publicly musing over the meanings of–and attachment to–my daughter’s long hair, I found myself re-assessing my relationship with my own. I hope to write a Hair Chronicles-type post in the near future because, to be quite frank, I have experimented more with my hair than about anyone I know.
The same day Dot cut her hair to a chin-length bob, I cut mine short. Like, pixie short. About six weeks later I cut it shorter.
Having short hair changes a multitude of things; especially short, somewhat androgynous, hair. There’s nothing to hide behind. There’s nothing to play with, or flip, or tuck behind the ear. There’s nothing to curl or coif in honor of a special occasion.
Last week I stumbled upon this essay posted at Practice What You Prius. Though it was written twenty-three years ago, the sentiments hold today.
ON SHORT HAIR (c1988)
From American(?) Vogue
by Joan Juliet Buck
Joan Juliet Buck, a devoted short hair convert, explains why it makes a difference.
Hair is time.
Women with short hair always look as if they have somewhere else to go. Women with long hair tend to look as if they belong where they are, especially in California. Short hair takes a short time. Long hair takes a long time. Long hair moves faster than short hair. Long hair tells men that you are all woman, or a real woman, or at the very least a girl. Short hair always makes them wonder. Short hair makes children ask each other –usually at the school-yard gate, when parents are late– “Are you a boy or girl?” Men married to women with short hair should not have affairs with women who have long hair kept up with many little pins and combs. Once you have cut your hair you have to remember to wear lipstick, but you can put away the brush, elastics, and the black barrettes in the form of shiny leaves with rhinestone hearts. When you cut your hair you lose a nose and gain a neck. A neck is generally better than a nose. It does not need to be powdered, except on extreme occasions. It does, however, need to be washed more often.
With short hair you suddenly dislike the month of March, when the wind blows down the back of your neck. With short hair you begin to crave pearl necklaces, long earrings, and a variety of sunglasses. And you brush your teeth more often. Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style. When it starts growing out a little and losing its style, you have to wear sunglasses until you can get it to the hairdresser. That’s why you need a variety. Short hair makes you aware of subtraction as style. You can no longer wear puffed sleeves or ruffles; the neat is suddenly preferable to the fussy. You eye the tweezers instead of the blusher. What else can you take away? 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. You will look elegant, as short hair requires you to keep your weight slightly below acceptable levels. However, the first time you wear a bathing suit with short hair, you will feel exceptionally naked. People who used to look straight at you will love you in profile. 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. But your face is no longer a flat screen surrounded by a curtain: the world sees you in three dimensions.
Chase to the cut.