The cautionary tale of Rapunzel
Up until my dad died I had a boy’s haircut. Sure I tried to pass it off as the “Dorothy Hamill”, but let’s call it what it was: a boy’s haircut. My sister and I had identical haircuts. (Sadly we were also dressed identically as little kids because it was easier for our mom to make two of everything. Yes, that’s right, our mom also made our clothes.) When dad died I grew my hair out because, well there was no one telling me I couldn’t. That lasted about a year until one beautiful summer day in Venice when I wandered in to a hair salon clutching a copy of British Vogue and asking if anyone spoke English. It became clear no one did, so I just pointed to the picture and they all smiled and I got one of the best damn haircuts of my life. Chopped it all off again, breathed a sigh of relief and realized my dad was right about my hair.
Most women I’ve encountered feel better with long, -er, -ish, hair. I don’t. Oh I grow it out all the time. I always think THIS time will be different! This time I will….what? I don’t know. Bother to do something other that keep it in a topknot or a ponytail at work? Actually drag out that hair dryer I have? The curling iron? I wonder if that’s just not in my dna – I just didn’t do it as a little girl so it’s pretty foreign to me now. Even as a teenager (because the Venice experience happened when I was 15) I had short hair so I never had to do anything with it. Now makeup, I can do makeup with the best of them. (I said I CAN, not that I DO. I am perfectly capable of it, though. You’ll have to trust me). But I never put a lot of stock in long hair.
I like short hair. I’m not what you would call classically pretty, but I’ve got great cheekbones and an awesome jaw line that really stand out with no hair to hide them. I actually think my eyes are my best feature, and even behind glasses, with short hair they’re a little more noticeable. With short hair I stand up a little straighter, smile a bit more often, breathe a little easier. Ok, that’s probably because the ponytails give me headaches, but you see where I’m going.
Of course there’s always the reactions to deal with. Some guy doesn’t like girls with short hair (most men I know don’t but since it’s not their hair who cares?). I always get called “Sir” at least once and while it gets me down for about 5 seconds I then laugh about it (this year please expect jokes about when I can expect my white male privilege checks to arrive). And, sadly, sometimes there’s harassment (hair length is an indicator of sexual orientation? Wouldn’t a better indicator be, say, who I want to have sex with?).
Short hair is me, it’s what I feel most comfortable in, and despite occasionally being called “sir” it’s what I feel I look best in. Let’s face it, if you know me personally you know I’m never going to have the fairy-tale princess moment. Even at my wedding 15 years ago I sported a pixie cut and while I looked awesome, princess was not a descriptor.
Long hair has always been the domain of the princess but take the case of Rapunzel in Disney’s Tangled: her long hair is what keeps her imprisoned and it’s only when she cuts it that she’s truly free. I know how she feels.