About six months ago, my naturally curly locks entered a fussy phase. My hair has always been a delicate ecosystem, but some unidentified hormonal, dietary, or environmental shift had caused it to change from uniformly unruly to lopsidedly bizarre. Essentially, I looked like a frizzy mess except for one stubborn greasy patch directly above my right eye. I had no desire to become the poster child for “combination hair,” and spent a lot of time glaring at my reflection while muttering expletives.
As a potential solution to my ongoing hair-rage, my husband suggested I go Halle Berry. I’d worn my hair boy-short through much of college in what can only be described as the “fluffy helmet” style, so I had doubts that short hair could work on me. But eventually I conceded that the dandelion ‘do had been the result of my Cost Cutters-only budget and woeful ignorance of styling products. In the present day, I have a decent beauty budget, a stylist who I consider to be the Dumbledore of curly hair, and an arsenal of products that is threatening to overtake our tiny bathroom. In the present day, I am fully equipped to get, style, and maintain a kick-ass short hairstyle.
So about two weeks ago, I chopped my chin-length hair into a delightfully messy pixie cut. I did it over my lunch break, and without telling my husband. In retrospect, I realize that I was NOT attempting to create a fun, delightful atmosphere of surprise around the change. I was apprehensive about how he’d react.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he hated it, but I would go so far as to say that he is only just coming around to it now, two weeks later. My sneaky behavior in getting the haircut should have triggered alarms about spousal apprehension, but denial drowned them out. I was frankly surprised by his reaction. Shocked, even. Because, people, I look AMAZING with my hair like this. It works with my bone structure and the planes of my face, it’s ideal for my hair’s natural unruliness and rough texture, and it adds a fantastic edginess to virtually everything in my wardrobe. My friends and coworkers are absolutely thrilled by it, and the compliments have not stopped flowing since day one. I know it’s short, and I know that short hair can be challenging on women, and I know that I’ve had awful short hair in the past. But none of that is relevant here. This isn’t a short haircut; This is a stylish haircut that suits me, and it just happens to be short. I feel invigorated and sassy and gorgeous. I feel like I’ve gone from having “hair” to having “a hairstyle.” I feel more like myself than I have in years. But my husband’s initial dismay and hesitation have caused me to question these convictions over the past weeks.
And bless him, my dad is simply heartbroken. A bit cranky, too, just as he was when I chopped my locks in college. So far I have successfully avoided getting into it with him, but reports from my mom confirm that he cannot and will not approve of a cropped hairdo on his daughter. Even a fabulously flattering one. He’ll tolerate it, but he will not approve it. And, unlike my husband, he will not come around to it after a few weeks and repeated exposure to its undeniable awesomeness.
So, as many have done before me, I must trot out the eternal question: What is it with guys and hair? Obviously, some men dig short styles on women, but it seems that the vast majority strongly prefer lady hair worn long. What gives? How can the most enlightened, feminist-minded males in our society revert to such primal concepts of beauty and gender when it comes to short hairdos on women? Or is something more at play?
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based blogger, freelance writer, and communications professional who writes the daily style and body image blog Already Pretty.