Why Do Women Cut Their Hair Short?

Hair stylist cuttting hair a woman's long hair off
Photo: Dreamstime
In an article on the "Femail" page of MailOnline, the website for London's Daily Mail, different sources discussed the topic of women’s short hairstyles and the motivations 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-heartedly embracing the "long hair is the ultimate 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 on 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.
Woman who is wearing her hair very short in a buzz cut
Photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels
It's generally accepted that most men, and many women, prefer longer hair on women, even if they don't buy into the motives that are attached 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 aspects of our lives. But I'm not so caught up in it that I think evolution stopped 100,000 years ago. Yes, long hair will always 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 very attractive) are excellent examples of how attitudes about styles change over time.
I'll buy that the most dramatic changes in style are usually accompanied by an underlying 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 single reason behind every woman's changing of her hair length and style.
See also:
Reasons to cut your hair off
Why women can look younger with short hair