In August 2010, I had my hair trimmed to perfect pixie length for the last time and moved into my freshman college dorm. I had kept my hair ultra-short through most of high school, but let it grow (and grow, and grow) through college. Being on both sides of the extreme, I’ve seen pros and cons in the short and long of it.
It’s no big secret that men are more attracted to long hair. I didn’t get the attention my long-haired peers received in high school, but I did learn to not rely on my looks. Laurie Penny said it best: Cutting your hair short is “choosing to behave consciously as if the sexual attention and comfort of men is not [your] top priority.”
With Facebook and Instagram, young women are growing up in an increasingly image-based society where you are valued by how many “likes” your selfie gets. By not having popular long hair, I taught myself to value my personality -- and young men who felt the same -- and to look for more than just lust at first sight.
I loved my short hair, and I loved the way I looked with it. I cut it because I’m fickle with my appearance, which is also why I grew it out. In terms of effort, short hair is obviously easier. There are only so many things you can do with a pixie cut, and only so many places where a faux-hawk is professionally acceptable. And I won’t sugar-coat it: Growing out a pixie cut is a bitch. (You’ll learn to hate every celebrity who “grows it out” with extensions.)
If you need validation from douchey guys at bars, long hair is the way to go. (This isn’t to say you won’t get the same shallow treatment with short hair; there are still piles of men with manic pixie dream girl syndrome who will come running, and boy, do the French love a short cut!) With long hair, I’ve had guys who wouldn’t give me the time of day in high school say “damn,” reaching out to touch it. I just laugh.
What I value are the men who don’t care about the dead cells sprouting out of my head, the boyfriends who tell me to cut it off because it gets in the way when they kiss me and they feel bad accidentally pulling it when they put their arm around me.
A friend from college told me that while we didn’t meet in freshman year, she knew who I was, because of my short hair. People don’t know what to expect of a girl with short hair, and you learn to have fun with that uncertainty: be a little weird, be intense, be thoughtful and intelligent, be your unguarded self.
Once you learn that, it doesn’t matter how long your hair is.