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Rapunzel no more

Posted in Style & Travel, Uncategorized, and Women's issues

Claudia short hair
The new me

Max has known me for 15 years. We know about each other ups and downs, relationship problems, the details of the birth of his daughter – the way a certain intimacy happens with the person who has been cutting your hair and has seen your face age in the mirror at regular intervals. I let Max do whatever he wants. I don’t know what I want when it comes to hair and I trust his French instincts and his expertise can “see” me better than I can.

Today Max decided it was time to go short.

“I am sick and tired of seeing you with long hair”.

“Yeah, me too. Go for it”. And before I could have any second thoughts, my long, layered tresses were on the floor, much to the amazement of the two girls standing around. “That’s a change” one of them murmured.

“Oh, it’s only hair. It grows back” I said nonchalantly. But it’s not only hair. Every woman who has shed her mane knows the feeling: lightness, giddiness and boldness all rolled into one.

My first pixie cut came compliments of a Vidal Sassoon butchered haircut – the next hairdresser I went to could only chop it all off so I could start over. I kept it for a long while, until my boyfriend (then to become husband) gently asked if I could grow it back. And I did. That was 17 years ago. After the tragic in-between state was over, I held various degrees of length but always on the long side. Until today. When a new wind blew into town, Mary Poppins style.

I am too far removed from pop culture to claim to have been inspired by Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus or Jennifer Lawrence – but I live around the internet enough to know that some of these women, Jennifer Lawrence in particular, were crucified for their hair choices. By male fans in particular. I happened across an article, very well written, the argument clearly explained and faultlessly laid out, on why women should not fall in the footsteps of beautiful celebrities who shed their manes – in a nutshell: if very beautiful women can’t pull it off, why should you? The author – you guessed it – was a man.

An Edwardian Rapunzel
An Edwardian Rapunzel

Since long before Rapunzel, Goldilocks or Juliet, long hair in women has held a sexual connotation: thick, beautiful tresses made for desirable women and, judging from the 20 year olds parading around Los Angeles, the myth endures. From a style point of view, I concede that longer hair is easier to pull off and fun to style – not every face structure works when fully naked but, in part, the choice of keeping one’s hair long has to do with disguise, even insecurity for some.

Sofagirl will tell you I was the biggest flirt she has ever met – I am Italian after all – and twirling a strand of your hair, raking your fingers through it, pulling it this way and that across your face, can be an instrument of seduction. One men fall for. Long hair equals femininity and, in the Christian archetype, the image of the woman as a Virgin.

...with a face like that, anything looks stunning
…with a face like that, anything looks stunning

Maybe it’s naive to think that feminism could level the playing field and maybe ruby lips, various displays of body parts, mini-skirts and the likes are all a rite of passage of developing sexuality; of a woman’s discovery of herself and her impact on the opposite gender. Maybe it’s not all bad. Unless we come to the realization that we are dressing and styling ourselves just to send sexual signals, or as the only way to feel desirable. That perpetuates the objectification of women we have fought so hard to dispel. At some point, we have to look in the mirror and decide what we like for our sake’s, not other’s.

I happen to like the way I  look now with short hair: my face is lifted and younger looking, my eyes take center stage but, at 51, I spend less time worrying about looks, as long as I feel I am put together. It’s more about  the way it makes me feel: a bit more chic, different, lighter, more in your face. This is me, with nowhere to hide, an attitude that took me a long time to build.

I will keep it for a while. Then maybe I will grow it back. Or maybe I won’t. One of the best things of womanhood is the wide array of choices available to us when it comes to styling.

And to Max. Merci. For still understanding a girl and pushing her to go where she didn’t know she was headed.

Images of Beyonce and Rapunzel found in the public domain

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12 Comments

  1. I don’t know how I lost this post! I LOVE your new haircut, I’d love to do the same but short never worked on me (I did the pixie in the 90s, worst choice ever). I think that hair and femininity have been linked for so long that it still sounds as a statement when someone chops it off. (Yours is a classic carré, though, no violent statement). Personally, I think that long hair suit everybody and short hair very very few people. These few can actually look amazing, though:) If I come to LA again I count on you to bring me to Max…

    December 2, 2013
    |Reply
    • I got a pixie by default and, besides making me look 12, and the ease of it, I can’t say I looked stellar. Now it’s super short in the back but a little more gentle around my face. Think I love it more and more as days go by.

      December 2, 2013
      |Reply
  2. It makes me sad to hear Jennifer Lawrence get so much criticism. I love her pixie cut, and as always seeing it makes me want to chop off mine. Yours looks great too! Well done, Max.

    November 24, 2013
    |Reply
    • I know! Isn’t it crazy that anyone in the public eye should be given flak for a haircut? Is this obsession a way to distance ourselves from our own problems?

      November 24, 2013
      |Reply
  3. You look lovely 🙂
    Three weeks ago, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in several months, at which point she was beautiful, with luscious long dark hair, something that Spanish women pull off really, really well. Now she’s chopped it off and she’s suddenly turned middle aged. I tried to contain my horror. Not sure I succeeded.

    November 19, 2013
    |Reply
    • That old saying that when a woman reaches middle age she should cut her hair short has always rung a bit stupid. It really isn’t for every face.

      November 19, 2013
      |Reply
  4. silvia
    silvia

    I adore that sensation, you wake up and you haven’t the slightest idea of what’s gonna change in your attire, you are not aware at all.
    And then it’s done you look different, preferably better.
    It’s like something is acted inside and it has nothing to do with your will or your ratio.
    It simply happens.
    And you sweetheart, you look gorgeous.

    November 19, 2013
    |Reply
  5. Look forward to seeing it! Maybe one day I’ll chop my mane. Thinking I’ll do it next fall, after a summer in Greece, long hair in summer seems easier. Hopefully it will be long enough to donate 10 inches.

    November 19, 2013
    |Reply
    • Somehow I can’t imagine you without your long, thick hair…which maybe means it’s time for a change!

      November 19, 2013
      |Reply
  6. Your new look is fabulous…well done on taking the plunge to cut off your lovely tresses 🙂 you look very stylish!

    November 18, 2013
    |Reply
    • Thank you! will see how long I have the patience of getting it trimmed more often than before

      November 19, 2013
      |Reply

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