“Oh, I wish I could do that.”
Hundreds of times I’ve heard this lament directed my way. Why? Is it because I can solve a Rubik’s Cube while holding it behind my back? Speak in numerous near-extinct tribal languages and dialects? Bend my thumb all the way back so it touches my wrist?
Nope. It’s because I have short hair.
Setting aside the obvious (oh, but you can do that — just let me get these massive shears out of my handbag…), I’m constantly amazed not so much by the fact that women envy short hair, but that they actually believe it’s somehow a hair style that’s totally beyond their reach.
“You should cut it,” I urge them. “It would look great on you!”
“Oh no, I could never pull it off,” they always reply.
Pull it off? For the record, let’s create a short, but entirely comprehensive, list of reasons one could not “pull off” short hair:
1. You are Samson.
2. You have a wildly offensive neck tattoo.
3. You suffer from a goiter the size of a tennis ball or larger.
4. You have that kind of curly hair that falls in spirals. I get it. That’s a triangle waiting to happen. All you kinky-haired ladies get a pass.
Everyone else? Then cut it off. Really. I see you at Sephora, scouring the product labels on oils and scalp treatments and masks. Filling your shopping baskets with products that volumize, smooth, de-frizz, regenerate and texturize.
Hear me out on this: You know when you do your hair in the morning, and you blown it dry upside down, or set it in hot rollers and then used a straightening iron (the only way to get both volume and sleek length, I’m told). You put on product to make it shiny and stay in place, then look in the mirror and assess your ‘do, turning your head left, then right, then left again, feeling pleased with the coif you’ve created.
But guess what? That’s the last time it will look anything like that all day.
In fact, if my math is right, it appears that anywhere from 75% to 80% of you, at a minimum, will have pulled it up into something else by about noon, a percentage that will rise with any kind of increase in inclement weather, volume of work on your plate, or external stressors of any kind.
And it looks pretty good that way, right? You wouldn’t do it if it didn’t. You know why it looks good? Because your hair is off of your lovely face and we can see you! My friends, you cannot seriously believe that your face is so completely busted that you need long hair to divert attention from it.
What’s that? Your husband/boyfriend/significant other “won’t let” you cut your hair off? I ask you: How many times has this man refused to wear a particular shirt or pair of pants or shoes because they cause him the slightest bit of momentary physical discomfort? How long does it take him to get ready each day? Where is the justice? It’s cheap justice, but we gotta take it where we can get it, man. We may earn only 78 cents on every dollar a man makes, but for the love of all that’s holy we can at least take back the hours spent every week on the arrangement of the hair coming out of our heads.
Think of all the impossibly chic women who’ve had short hair, from their very young years (Mia Farrow, Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn) to their 30s and 40s (Charlize Theron, Tilda Swinton, Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong’o, Michelle Williams). Even — and especially — older women who completely own silver pixie cuts or ragged close crops with a self-possessed twinkle in their eye (Jamie Lee Curtis, Judi Dench, Sharon Stone, Annette Bening, Helen Mirren).
When you conjure the image of these women in your mind, what stands out? Their eyes. Their smiles. Their cheekbones. Their style. Their personality. Their face.
A woman’s hair is a powerful thing — both to your own sense of self and to those who meet you, either in its quantity or in its absence. Since I abruptly lopped my hair off at 20, a passing glimpse of myself in a mirror or a store window never gives me the sinking feeling of a “bad hair day.” It reminds me that I stand out, and it tells others that I carve my own path. Not least, a little tousle with my fingers gives me some instant sass, and we all need more of that.
What about you? I’ve shown you mine — now you show us yours.