Celebrity stylist Owen Gould said in an interview “Hair holds so much more energy than most of us are aware of. Some women use it as a security blanket whose purpose is to shield and protect, while others use it as a secret weapon to tease and entice.” Gould, who has styled the tresses of Jessica Alba to Björk to Karlie Kloss to Kate Hudson, also added “It can be used as a statement, an air of strength, a ‘don’t f*ck with me’ effect, and cutting it off can be incredibly liberating.”
It is true that a hairstyle can hold so much power but it can also hold you back. There are so many reasons why women hold back from chopping off their locks, but one of the most common reasons is a subconscious one because society’s beauty standard has become a norm that a lot of women do not experiment with their hair.
Experimenting With Hairstyles
I remembered once when I wanted to experiment with my hairstyle during secondary school. My sister and I would look at the different hairstyles on the Internet or magazines and envisioned these hairstyles on ourselves. I would always pick a pixie cut, or something short, and suggested it to my sister. Sometimes her reply would entail a pause, followed by a casual comment, “My boyfriend wouldn’t like that.” I would scoff and tell her, “It’s your hair, not his. So you should do whatever you want.”
I probably did not understand why she said that but when I grew up, I noticed the standards or ideals being imposed on me, as a female, and suddenly felt as though everything clicked. I understood what my sister had gone through and I figured I am not going appease anyone but myself.
I had a friend who said to me, I do not like your short hair. That was after having long hair throughout my late teen years and I decided to change up my look. It did not affect me, instead it got me thinking – is it innate in people today to prefer long hair? Ingrained in our society to prefer long hair to short? Does it diminish us women who sport a short do? I suppose that has to do with the society’s standard of beauty.
Society naturally defines women’s beauty as having long luscious hair aside from many other factors. With a globalized world of culture, race, media, and power , it intersects to create an idea of “beauty” admired by a group of people, rather than an individual. The covers of glossy magazines, Instagram images, runway pictures, beauty advertisements and YouTube videos perpetuate these ideals to a large group of people globally. We are also force fed with images of not just celebrities and models, but also YouTubers and social influencers who are deem as ordinary people. Therefore, we have been brainwashed to think that these are THE standards that equates to beauty. And having short hair is being attributed to being less womanly.
Short Hair, Don’t Care
I had long hair for a couple of years in my late teens, and finally told my friends my intentions of cutting it short, like pixie short. And it baffled them, some gasped, others cheered me on. My purpose was not to shock my friends, instead I just wanted to see if I would be emotionally attached to my hair.
Snipping off my long locks for a short do is truly a liberating feeling. It really isn’t about starting anew after a failed relationship like most girls would in my secondary school years. I did it for the purpose of not adhering to society’s standards of beauty and the opinions of men.
For Practicality’s Sake
I have long, straight, fine, thick hair and unfortunately, suffer from dry scalp and dandruff. When my hair length reaches my hip, you have no idea how heavy and thick it is. It takes me almost half an hour to dry my hair and if do not, my scalp will itch badly. Having short hair not only saves me time in drying it, but also shampoo. In this very busy world, sometimes short hair means more time to get ready when I am running late for work.
Change starts with the media as the it is all mighty and powerful. When the media starts accepting the diverse beauty ideology, society will start embracing it as well, which encourages and empowers women to embrace it as well. At the end of the day, I really don’t care if my hair style, be it long, wavy hair or a short pixie cut, incites the opinions of others and the expectations of the world’s beauty standards. As long as I am happy with it, that is all that matters. It is our hair; it is a personal choice and everyone should just refrain from imposing their beauty ideals and standards on us, women.