Love & Sex

Tools of Attraction: Girls with Short Hair

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Five New York women who decided to take it all off.

Kathryn, 35, artist

How long have you had your hair short?
Six years. I saw a photo in Vogue that I loved, so I took some scissors and cut it myself. Before that, it was a little bit past my shoulders.

So, it was long. Was it an emotional thing to cut your hair?
Sure, but not in a bad way. I felt much freer and a little more punk rock after I did it.

[laughs] And since you do it yourself, it’s genuinely punk rock. What reactions do you get from men?
My husband loves it. I’ve also noticed that people remember me now — when people meet me, they remember me. When I had long hair that never happened. 

What does short hair say about you?
It says that I’m avant-garde and an individual. Though less so now, since so many people have asymmetrical haircuts… I may have to change it up again.

Would you ever shave your head?
Yeah, I shaved my head a couple times in college, and I would consider doing that again, but it is so extreme. I do like what Tilda Swinton has going on.

I think that terrifies a lot of women. 
Yeah, a lot of women have reservations about cutting their hair. But you’ve got to let that go. Short hair is sexy. 

Dress: Built by Wendy, tube top: H&M, shoes: Walking Co.

Emma, 21, student

What made you decide to cut your hair short? 
I’ve always wanted to do it. I was visiting my sister in Paris, and I was very influenced by the style there. The hairdresser spoke very little English, I didn’t speak any French, and so my sister was translating. I just said I wanted a pixie. My sister is my twin and I’m kind of her guinea pig and she was really pushing me to do it.

There’s a big connection between women’s hair and their sexuality. Were you worried? 
Not really. Once I was back in the States, this guy asked if I was a boy, and at the time I was a little upset, but it ended up being really funny. I think short hair is very feminine and very beautiful, and that’s why I ended up doing it.

When you see other girls on the street now, are you attracted more to girls with short hair?
Now that I have short hair, I’m immediately like, “I love her hair." I feel like we’re part of a club, like, “We know it’s cool to cut off your hair.” Now whenever someone brings it up I tell them to do it. 

Are guys into your haircut? 
The type of guys I like are more adventurous — guys who aren’t so into the traditional girls with long hair. So it works out — I’m into guy who aren’t obsessed with that very specific standard of long hair.

And they’re into you. 

Top and bottom: J.Crew, sandals: Forever21

Julie, 46

How long have you had your hair short?
On and off for about twenty-five years.

Do you remember the first time you cut it short?
The first time I cut it short, I cried. And then, I went shorter and shorter and shorter and when I was about nineteen, I buzzed it until I had almost no hair. So I’ve been all lengths.

What were the reactions from men?
I find that men (though when I first did it, it was more like boys, since I was in high school) do not appreciate short hair at all.

Why do you think that is?
I don’t know — it seems intrinsically tied up in their lists of likes and dislikes. My husband likes short hair, but a lot of men don’t seem to respond to it. Unless of course you’re blonde, and then it’s different. I had my hair platinum — it was platinum when I got married — so maybe that says something.

So blonde hair of any length is always more attractive to men.
Yes, I think so. 

Is there a certain kind of man for whom short hair is less of an issue?
I think the ones who like it are more evolved and they understand that everyone has a different style. Maybe long hair doesn’t look good on me and they can appreciate that.

What woman in time has worn short hair the best?
Madonna from the ‘80s. Jean Seberg looked really amazing. Linda Evangelista, too. 

Johanna, 19, student

When did you cut your hair short?
Four or five years ago when I went to Israel. I had short hair before. This is pretty long actually for my hair right now.

The first time you cut your hair, why did you do it?
It was fun. It wasn’t like “a statement.”

Are guys ever intimidated by short hair?
Sometimes. A lot of people think I’m a lesbian or something, but I’m not. It’s a little bit confusing.

Why do you think that happens?
The stereotypes about gender roles in the world are still pretty set. I find that all this stuff is melting though. Fifty or sixty years ago, it would have be unheard of for me to wear shorts, and now every woman can. I’m just waiting for guys to pick up skirts.

Was cutting your hair an emotional experience? 

No. It’s easier. I’m from Germany and I’m traveling, first through the U.S. and then through Central America and it’s so much easier. Sometimes guys say, “Why don’t you have long hair — why do you have this fucking short hair?” I say, “Why do you have short hair?” It’s just so much easier to handle.

So, short hair is like a life philosophy?
I just want to live day by day and be happy. I don’t want to care too much about my outer appearance, because I think that’s overrated. I’m not a special kind of statement.

shorts and t-shirt: vintage

Jackie, 33, traveler

How long have you had a pixie cut?
This time it’s been about two years. I had my a pixie when I was in high school and college, too. Then I grew it out, but decided I’d had enough of long hair so I cut it short again; it’s much easier.

What made you go short the first time?
It was a whim. I think I was about fifteen and I’d seen a picture of someone with short hair and I though, “Oh, that’s cute.” So I threw caution to the wind, had it done, and I didn’t look back.

When you were fifteen, did the guys at school dig your short hair?
I think they did, but they didn’t necessarily want to admit it. Because high-school girls are supposed to have long flowing locks and ponytails and whatever. But I think the guys secretly dug it.

Did you ever regret it? 

Every once and a while, someone’s ringing me up at a store, not paying attention, and out of the corner of their eye they see short hair and they say, “Sir.” But then they realize their mistake, because I’m obviously not a man. They’re usually quite apologetic and embarrassed. 

Why do you think men find long hair sexier?
A lot of men have this ideal of a pin-up with makeup and curves and her hair blowing in the wind — there’s something Greek goddess about it that men find very classically beautiful. But other men go for edgier women. Those are the ones I meet.

But, in the end, it’s more of a personal decision, right?
When you do something like cut your hair short, it’s for you — it’s not for other people. The standards of beauty that Americans have come from fashion magazines and men — or, from women imagining what men want to see. But some things are just comfortable and personal; short hair is that for me.

What do you think when you see other women with short hair? 
I think you cant help but think, “Oh, a kindred spirit.” Because I think a lot of women would like to have short hair, but they can't sit down in the salon chair and say, “Go for it.”

It’s a really emotional thing for some girls.
I know. On America’s Next Top Model, they cut the girls’ hair short and they sit there and bawl their eyes out. And most of the time they end up looking better but still, there’s just this emotional connection that women have to their hair. 

Have you ever shaved your head?
No. You just don’t know what’s under there.

Everything: Zara, glasses: Tom Ford