I have short hair. Really short hair. Senior year of high school, I cut it all off and I have never missed the absence of length.
Since the cut, my family (and strangers for that matter) have asked me to grow my hair out again. After patiently listening and smiling, my sister recommended that I write a blog post about the issue.
What does short hair signify? What does long hair signify and does it even matter?
Hegemonically speaking, short hair is a signifier of masculinity and conversely, long hair is a signifier of femininity. My suspicion is that when these signifiers are misplaced (long hair on a man, short hair on a woman), discomfort ensues. This marginal and disquieting space maybe one reason why I am asked to re-grow my hair.
After watching the Golden Globes last night, I realized that the preference for long hair is not restricted to my inner circle. Becomegorgeous.com described women who came to the event with long hair as looking “glamorous,” “romantic,” “graceful,” “classy,” and “stylish.” All of these women have long hair and as such, they were defined as being classic beauties. Note that out of the eleven women highlighted on the website, none sported short hair.
One of the few women who did attend the event with cropped hair was Michelle Williams. The adjectives used to describe her hair included “adorable,” and “cute.” Now, I am not placing a value judgment on any of these descriptions. I merely want to point out that there is a stark difference in the way we, as a society, view a woman’s hair length. In my experience, long hair is currently socially privileged over short hair and the reasoning returns, once again, to the discussion of misplaced signifiers.
Hegemony dictates a restrictive template of femininity that must be followed, a standard which our media culture dutifully reaffirms. Personally, I think it is time we kick in the sides of the essential femininity box. Long hair, short hair, or no hair, womanhood is constructed and it is time we took back that construct and made it our own.