In November 2010, I went to Michel at Civello for my quintennial Chop Off.   It seems that every five years or so, I cut off most of my hair.

I have always loved the look of short hair on me and on other women. The reaction to my haircut has become predictably polarized – one camp absolutely loves it and the other, well, does not. The latter usually thinks I look too androgynous and boyish, which, oddly are often the very same reasons why the former loves it!

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton

Sadly, K is in the latter camp. K prefers me with longer hair, but he has not minded my short cuts in the past.  However, this time, I think my “faux-hawk” threw him over the edge.  My mother gently advised me to wear lipstick for the next while (you know, so people would know that I was the woman in this partnership). I wish I could say that I did not care whether he liked it or not, but of course I did. It got me thinking and reading.

Kate Moss

Kate Moss

Various studies suggest that there are (often unconscious) evolutionary and historical reasons as to why men prefer long hair. Many eons ago, long hair signalled to a man that a woman has been in good health for at least a few years, and by extension, in good reproductive health.   In recent history (i.e. over the past few millenia), long hair was worn by those with wealth and power.  It was the servant classes who wore shorter cuts.  In both cases, longer hair on a woman would likely result in more “fit” and “desirable” progeny.

I have also read (anecdotally) that short hair on a woman sends a signal that, among other things, the woman is not/less interested in pleasing men, is rebellious (consider the women of the 1920s and the 1960s who cut their hair in response to societal changes and new freedoms) and is going through a stressful period in her life (Britney Spears’ implosion will forever preserve this theory).

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

I think there is some truth to each of findings and observations. But, the fact is, I love having short hair because I feel good with it and (I think) I look good.  I believe it frames my face and accentuates my delicate, barely-there Korean features.  It is a myth that short hair is not versatile.  I like that I can style it so that it matches my mood on a particular day.  Some days I’m feeling strong and bold, so I will style my hair with a bit of an edge, like Tilda’s.  Other days, I’m feeling soft and feminine, so I’ll tousle it a bit, like Kate has.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of long hair as well – hence the existence of a five year cycle in the first place. Long hair makes me feel feminine, sensual and earthy.  So don’t worry K, my hair will be long again soon enough.  But, this is not the last time you will be seeing it short, either :).

Read Part 2 of this post here.

10 thoughts on “In Appreciation of Short Hair

  1. I agree with you about how short hair can look very feminine. No one looks more beautiful in short hair than Audrey Hepburn. As a member of the 5 year hair style rotation club, I can fully appreciate your desire to switch it up. I do the same thing – with length, bangs and colour (the bangs and colour on a more frequent turn-around).

  2. I also go through lonhair stages. But isn’t that one of the great things about being a woman in today’s modern society? We can change our look as we see fit. And enjoy our hair both long and short 🙂

  3. I like long hair and so do most men BUT the most important thing is that YOU are happy. So all the power to you!

  4. Pingback: In Appreciation of Short Hair – Part 2 | in search of wabi-sabi.

  5. I love short or medium short hair on most women. I think too long hair on a lot of women past their 20s hides the face and does nothing for personal style. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of older women that look fabulous with longer hair, but hair does take a lot of upkeep to keep it shiny and styled and not confined inside a perma-pony or messy bun.

    I have an aunt in her 50s that has kept her long hair since high school and does nothing but get my mom to frost it–an older way to do highlights by pulling the hair around the crown through a silicone cap and use peroxide/bleach instead of colors. My aunt’s hair color looks fine and greys are covered/blend in, but the style does nothing for her face and screams “I refuse to acknowledge I’m a mature woman and not still in high school and college.

    I love short hair because I grew up at the beach and was very active in the water as well as horseback riding and then obtaining my pilot’s license. Since I was such a tomboy, my parents preferred I keep my hair longer… which resulted in some mishaps like it getting caught in my dog’s collar, in my horse’s halter, on fire with a flying cinder while helping my dad build a bonfire. Finally the damage from pool and salt water made it so tangly, my mom had to keep it at shoulder length because we couldn’t comb it out. Then I dyed it in high school and hated the result, so the stylist cut it ultra short. I was in heaven because it was so much easier to style and fit into my active lifestyle.

    My mom found a master stylist to cut it when I started college, and it was so perfect that my boyfriend (now husband) who like my hair longer, fell in LOVE with my style. I’ve varied my hair color as an adult and varied hair styles, but shorter hair for me frames my face, makes me look more stylish and age appropriate–I can’t believe I’m almost 35, I don’t feel older or look much different.

    I do have a chronic illness that limits my activities. Having short hair does make getting ready a lot easier BUT I do keep my hair colored and styled so I look halfway put together when I feel awful and have to go to the doctor or hospital.

    I’m considering shorter Audrey Hepburn bangs and all over style but a little longer–I look better with hair that at least hits my jawline. I want a chic, French sophisticated style.

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