I had a pretty drastic haircut last summer. Well below the shoulder to short pixie cut. I’d been wondering whether to write a post about it, and after reading this post today listing three reasons women are taught they can’t have pixie cuts, and finding that one of them had never occurred to me, I thought I’d write my own response. And, if you can’t be bothered with the serious blocks of text, there’s a fun list of reasons why pixie cuts are great at the bottom.
The three reasons she lists are: 1) People will think you look like a boy, and thus, men won’t find you attractive. This did bother me for a minute when I was thinking of having it cut. I even found some utterly awful article online detailing the responses of men who’d been asked if they liked women with short hair. The vast majority said they didn’t like it. I felt deflated. Then I read the comments underneath, which almost all said ‘who the hell cares?’ And I thought, good point. One of the reasons I got my haircut this summer was because I was free to do it without having to worry about a partner’s opinion. I saw plenty of women around with short hair who also had boyfriends and I realised this was probably one of those stereotypes about society which is 80% bullshit. And I thought, if someone asked me if I liked men with long hair, I would say it depended what he was like in general, as a person. For the record, I haven’t noticed the short hair doing me any harm in the last few months- not that I’ve been conducting surveys of people’s opinions. And the only time someone has mistaken me for a boy so far is a woman talking to herself outside Sainsbury’s, who referred to me as ‘Jarvis Cocker over there.’ I thought this was hilarious and brilliant, and if I had to be mistaken for any boy, I’m very happy it was Jarvis Cocker. It actually put me in a good mood for several hours. I can understand why thinking you’ll look more “masculine” could put people off. Long hair is one of the classic signs of femininity. But that doesn’t mean short hair can’t be feminine. Plus, the author of the other article has a point when she says that gender is a social construct. That sounds complicated but the way I think of it is like this: if there are infinite universes, then somewhere there is a planet earth just like ours but it’s more ‘masculine’ for the men to have long hair and ‘feminine’ for the women to have short. It’s all just something somebody made up, so now people think it’s the way it is and has to be. It isn’t.
2) People will think you’re a lesbian. I rather hoped people had moved on from this view but I read an interview with Emma Watson who said after she cut her hair some members of the press asked her if she fancied girls now. Members of the press. Grown-up members of the press. Wow. So I have been waiting for someone to think that, but if they have, nobody’s said it. Apart from a lesbian who thought I was also a lesbian, but that was probably because I was in a gay bar dancing with another girl (who, incidentally, also had very short hair). So it wasn’t much of a jump for her to make.
3) People will think you’re crazy. This had not for one minute occurred to me, that people would think I was mentally unstable because my hair was short. Apparently some people do think that, presumably based on asylums where people had their hair cut short, or something like that. I hadn’t thought of it, nobody’s mentioned it, so I don’t propose to worry about it and I don’t think you should either.
The Everyday Feminism article all this came from painted a pretty negative view of having a pixie cut, I thought, mainly because a lot of this girl’s friends and family seemed to think it was a bad idea. I didn’t tell many people I was having it cut, partly because I didn’t want anyone to try and talk me out of it, which would only have annoyed me because once I decided I was doing it I couldn’t wait. People have said ‘wow- that must have taken a lot of guts’ or ‘were you scared?!’ which is fair enough, most people would be. One reason I hadn’t thought to do it before was because I assumed I’d be too frightened. But actually, the only thing I was scared of when I went to the hairdresser was that he would say it wouldn’t suit me, my hair was completely wrong for it, I’d look like a rat and on no account to cut it short. Once he said ‘It would work- it’s just whether you’ve got the guts to do it’ I was just excited. And when he cut my hair off level with my chin- and kicked the six inches that fell across the floor, because he’s brilliantly dramatic that way- the only thing I thought was ‘Wow, this is such a high. It would be worth growing it long again sometime just to have this adrenaline rush again.’ I haven’t regretted it once. The only thing people have said to me about it which I haven’t liked is automatically assuming that I already want to grow it out. I have no intention of growing it out at present. The only change I’ve had with it since I had it cut is to go even shorter.
So, enough of the negatives, real and fictional, with having a pixie cut. Here’s a list of 10 advantages:
1.It’s quicker and cheaper to take care of. Washing it takes less shampoo, less water, less time.
2.If you get caught in the rain/in a gale and you’ve forgotten a hair brush/comb, no problem. When my hair was long, if it got wet/severely windswept, it looked like I’d swapped my hair for a bird’s nest. Now it’s short, if I’ve somehow come out without one of my 84 combs, it doesn’t matter. In fact, most of the time it looks exactly the same.
3.With my current shorter style, now it’s grown slightly longer, it’s often nigh on impossible to get it to lie flat at the back (from my half-hearted efforts). This means I feel closer to understanding Harry Potter’s struggles in life.
4.I get to wear label m’s hair soufflé, when I can be bothered, which smells really really nice.
5.You can get away with a lot of eye make-up without looking too over-the-top. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but I do wear eyeliner/mascara more these days as my face is going it alone, without any back-up. It’s nice to give it some extra ammunition. Plus, because having my hair short for some reason makes my eyes look bigger, even with my seriously amateur make-up skills I can make my eyes so huge I look like a damn bush baby. It’s fun.
6.Confidence. This is what a lot of people say about cutting your hair short. I think it makes you appear more confident to other people in some subtle way, and you catch on to that attitude and run with it. I definitely feel more confident with it shorter, perhaps partly because my hair is so fine and difficult to do anything useful with when it’s long that it’s just great not having to worry about it.
7.New opportunities for Hallowe’en costumes. When I first had it cut, my hairdresser held it up at the sides and said ‘Wow- you can go as a female Wolverine at Hallowe’en!’* Alas, it is now too short. But I could go for the androgynous looks more easily now if I felt so inclined.
8.In the summer, it’s blissfully cool, and you don’t have to worry about carrying around hairbands/Kirby grips to KEEP IT THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.
9.In winter, you may get a colder neck, so it’s an excellent excuse to wear a vast array of scarves.
10.I’m assuming that wearing a hat will be a lot more straightforward. The only hat I’ve worn since July was a riding hat, and it certainly was easier to wear without having to tuck my hair under/round/over it.
*If you would also like a great hairdresser who boots your hair across the floor and gives you Hallowe’en costume ideas FOR FREE, go and see Ben Vowles at Toni and Guy Westfield White City. I used to hate having my hair cut and feel very small at the hairdressers, but having my hair cut by Ben puts me in a good mood for about a week.