Fashion · Miscellaneous · Personal

A hair-raising stigma

I decided at the end of last week, on a whim, that I wanted to get my hair cut into a bob. I had had it like that in the past, so I knew it suited me, and excitedly I phoned up the salon on Monday morning to make an appointment. Today, I faced the scissors. While I think my new ‘do is wonderful, it would be a bit banal to write an entire blog post dedicated to my hair. No, what I have been thinking about since deciding for this drastic change in style runs deeper than that…

What has been on my mind recently is the female attitude to hair, particularly among children. I know it sounds odd, but think about it: how many female children do you see with short hair? Okay, so there’s the occasional bob, but it’s very uncommon to come across a little girl with anything shorter than that. By and large, long hair seems to be seen as the “ideal” length. When I was in my final few years at primary school, I had really long hair, so long that it looked like rats’ tails. And yet, despite its dubious condition and non-existent shape, everyone adored it. I was renowned for having the longest hair in my year, and even before we had our school photos taken in Primary 7, my teacher asked if she could brush my waist-length hair for me.

While I experimented with different hair lengths throughout high school, I always retained this idea in my head that one day I would commit myself to growing my hair back to the length it was when I was ten years old. It’s only now I’ve realised – I really like having shorter hair, and maybe having really long hair isn’t as important as it seemed at the time.

So, why does it seem that as children and even in our teens, we put long, luscious hair on a pedestal? I hate to sound like I’m getting on my soapbox here, but perhaps it’s because as children, we were bombarded with the idea that long hair = beauty and popularity. Think about it: how often did Jacqueline Wilson describe the “it girl” or the “beautiful best friend” as having long, glossy locks? How often did Disney princesses (I suppose, with the exceptions of Mulan and Rapunzel at the end of ‘Tangled’) have flowing manes? You may think I’m reading into this too much, but remember how shocked the media were when Emma Watson went for a pixie cut when Harry Potter was over? How often is a woman passed off as “butch” if she has anything shorter than a bob? It seems to be that long hair is still seen as being ‘better’ than short, despite the individual’s tastes and what suits them.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having hair of any length, and everyone should have the freedom to choose how to style their hair. But I think there’s still a stigma associated with short hair, even though it’s absolutely irrelevant in the long run. But, it’s the principle that’s worth thinking about. I believe experimentation and finding out what you personally like, not just in terms of hair or clothes but in every aspect of life, is so important.

Life isn’t necessarily about “finding” ourselves, but rather, creating ourselves.

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