In an article on the “femail” page of MailOnline, the website for London’s Daily Mail, different sources took on the topic of
women’s short hairstyles and the motives behind them. It seems the slant of the story was whether or not a woman who has cut her hair short
has lost interest in sex, equating the sexual drive in women with her desire to keep her hair long as a sign of attractiveness.
The experts all seemed to agree on both the historical links between women’s long tresses and the image
of fertility and sexual desirability, and most seemed to feel that a woman who made a drastic change from long hair to a gamine-short
cut was expressing some intent to be “off the market” in some measure.
Specific attitudes on the subject range from whole-hearted embracing of the “long hair is the
penultimate look of a woman at her most alluring and desirable” to an assertion that cutting one’s long hair short is a sign of
dissatisfaction with some specific part of a person’s life. In the article, Dr. Pam Spurr, is quoted as saying, “The woman who
has been dissatisfied with her sex life, and decides she no longer wants to have sex, uses the power of the haircut as a sign to
show she's reclaiming power in the bedroom.”
However, interspersed among the more salacious viewpoints and blurbs is some real content.
Dramatic changes in style and look do generally accompany a shift in a woman’s sense of identity. Sometimes it is a reflective
response – a new look on the outside to go with a whole new outlook in the inside – and sometimes it’s a reactive response – the
‘change’ to help a woman ‘snap out of’ her mood or cope with some difficulty in her life. Whatever the mechanic involved, the
result is a new look and that look usually corresponds to a change taking place where it cannot normally be seen.
It’s also generally accepted that most men, and many women, prefer longer hair on women, even if
they don’t buy into the motives that are tacked on to the act of cutting the hair. One contributor to the article cited her own
experience with going short, “…But back on the street I was soon aware that fewer men turned their heads the way they used to.” For
her, the act of cutting her hair short had the unexpected effect of changing the way she saw herself as reflected in the eyes of others.
My own feelings on the subject are mixed: I understand the history and primal conditioning we
all have and how these factors dictate much of our attitudes toward various facets of our lives. But I’m not so caught up in it that
I think evolution stopped a hundred-thousand years ago. Yes, long hair is always going to be favored by some, regardless of the
circumstances, but the popularity of stars like Halle Berry and Charlize Theron (both of whom have proven without a doubt that
short hair can be smolderingly sexy) are excellent examples of how attitudes about styles change with time.
I’ll buy that most dramatic changes in style are accompanied by an interior motive, but to try
and make a blanket generalization that women who cut their hair do so for any one reason is preposterous. Women will go for shorter
looks to feel younger and sassier, to emulate celebrity looks they find appealing, and to have a style that’s easy to wear and easy
to care for. Sometimes they even have more than one reason for choosing to change their look. However, there is no one reason behind
every woman’s changing of her style.