Tools of Attraction: Girls with Short Hair

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

By Carly Pifer

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.

Commentarium (45 Comments)

Aug 10 11 - 12:30am

I am surprised how well some of these women look. I was expecting a catastrophe. I am intrigued.

Aug 10 11 - 1:15am

I love Julie. She mentioned Jean Seberg too. <3

Aug 10 11 - 8:16pm
Jean Sebert

I appreciated that too.

Aug 10 11 - 3:38am

"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."

Great quote, girl!

Actually, it seems like all of these women seem pretty cool and self-assured.

Aug 10 11 - 8:15am

The girls all look cute, but ALL of them pinged for me! It is indeed a little bit confusing. This is why I'm too scared to hit on people outside of gay events :(

Aug 10 11 - 12:07pm

I've had short hair -- sometimes SUPER short -- my entire adult life... and people have been thinking I was gay for my entire adult life. Apparently, you can have short hair OR natural eyebrows, but not both!

Aug 10 11 - 1:21pm
Mark in Van

I love girls with short hair. So sexy and sophisticated.

Aug 10 11 - 3:18pm

Few of these women were that feminine, but it can be a very fresh, youthful, girly look.

Aug 10 11 - 3:31pm

Very few women can pull off short hair, the ones that do (ie Demi Moore), stunning

Aug 10 11 - 3:42pm

I think there's a big difference between just short hair and short dyke hair. None of these girls look like boys, so it's a fair guess that they're all straight.

Aug 11 11 - 3:10pm

because all queer ladies with short hair look like boys?

Oct 19 11 - 12:07am


Aug 10 11 - 3:56pm

I love short hair on women. Unfortunately for a lot of cultures it is less than favorable. I'm black and I cut my hair short two years ago. It was amazing how different people (i.e., family and black friends) looked at me and treated me, even though I loved the way I looked. In fact, a lot of people told me it was a really stupid thing for me to do. I'm still debating whether I should cut it short again.

Aug 11 11 - 5:54pm
Do it

Love short hair on Black women. It is so sexy!

Aug 15 11 - 1:38pm

Weirdly, I was thinking how much easier it is for me as a black woman to not just have short hair, but micro-short hair. You can measure the length of my hair in millimetres most efficiently, and to be sure I don't bump into many white or asian women with hair this short, but there are a few of us shorn black chicks out there. When my white friends talk about "short hair requires so much more maintenance" I know they're not talking buzz cut short. It's a whole different vibe.

Aug 18 11 - 6:04pm

In the last few years, I've seen lots of buzzed heads on black women. I don't really like that, but I can tell you when I see natural long hair on a black lady like Amel Larrieux Ananda Lewis has, and Halle Berry had, it's an incredible sight. YES, I much preferred long hair on Halle Berry!

Aug 10 11 - 4:44pm
Felipe Arcano

Love short hair on women, its a huge turn-on for me. "Sinead O'connor" (on her debut album) or "Natalie Portman" (after V for Vendetta) short, well lets just say that I have't been fortunate enough to actually have met a woman sporting that look. Sad... really sad...

Aug 11 11 - 11:06am

I had a semi-Chelsea somewhere in my 20s (and again in my 30s, when married) which is basically a #1 guard shave with bangs... best haircut I've ever had. Loved loved loved it; it's the photo on my passport. Sadly, I feel those days are past me now... but if I ever again find myself with a man of your tastes, you better believe I'd chop it all off again! (It does have a huge impact on one's romantic life.)

Aug 12 11 - 3:59pm
Felipe Arcano

You've just damaged me for life... ;) Thats how strongly I fell about a No. 1 guard shaved head on my significant other... It would most definitely go a long way romantic-life-wise..

Oct 19 11 - 12:11am

You forgot Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. The problem is all of those women -- particularly Sinead -- were much prettier than the average woman. It would be like me running around in french cuffs and a Speedo because I heard women like Chippendales dancers. It just wouldn't have the same effect.

Aug 10 11 - 4:48pm

I used to have short hair and I loved it, it made me look different to all the other girls in my class at university. I may get it cut soon again!

Aug 10 11 - 5:55pm

as a (straight) woman with short hair, i'm loving this piece. i love my short hair and wouldn't trade it for the world, but i wish men were a little more open to it than the traditional standard of beauty of long, feminine hair. short hair is feminine too, guys!

Oct 19 11 - 12:13am

More power to you, Mari. I totally agree. Long hair on a woman is boring anyway.

Aug 10 11 - 6:01pm
Danielle Gibson

I would never cut my long boring hair, but I do admire ladies who take the chop.

Aug 10 11 - 9:46pm

I shaved my head after high school and rarely regret it. Now it varies in style, symmetry and length. Yes there is the occasional gender mix up and lesbian pick up, but those don't outweigh the numerous compliments. People with short hair are sassy. There's nothing to hide behind. People see everything that's written on my face and felt in my eyes. I feel like I'm truer to myself when my hair is short, and what is better than that?

Aug 10 11 - 11:01pm

I am such a coward. I cut all my hair off in senior year. I enjoyed it for 2 years and felt sexy and confident. Then too many people called me a dyke and that got to me. I've been growing it out every since. My long hair is gorgeous and red and I haven't been so self-conscious since I cut it.

Aug 10 11 - 11:07pm

I have a very short haircut in a sort of 50's boy-next door style, despite the fact that I have a vagina. I have been mistaken for a boy many times (damn you, strong jawline and small boobs) but I have never regretted it. It's easy to take care of. It's edgy. It's sexy. After so many years of long hair I finally feel like myself. And that is worth all of the mistaken gender comments.

Plus, whenever you see another girl with short hair on the street, there is a shared glance that says, "Hey, you too?" and there's a weird connection. It's awesome.

Thanks, Nerve, for doing this aritcle!

Aug 10 11 - 11:48pm

Awesome piece. Short hair usually wins the approval of the cooler guys you want to hang out with anyway. As a side note: I practically live in Kathryn's sandals from Walking Co. They're so comfortable!

Aug 12 11 - 12:21am

I'm a dyke with short, short hair. I can't help but think that if the fear of being mistaken for a guy or dyke is stopping you from getting the hair of your dreams, then you need to spend some time examining your confidence in your identity and self-esteem. Just do it! Be you, because there's no one better to be. And if someone judges, let it be their problem, not yours. Coolness has no measure.

Aug 12 11 - 2:59am

Just got my middle-of-the-back length hair chopped to a short, short pixie today and I love it!
I admit I wanted to make the change months ago but hesitated partly because I live in a very gay neighborhood and have been mistaken for a dyke before. Also didn't want to risk turning off the few straight guys I know who might view me as a romantic prospect. Thing is, I actually feel sexier and more physically confident with short hair (I've had it before) ~ not to mention it's way cooler and takes a fraction of the time to take care of. If I get hit on by the wrong gender in my 'burg, so be it ~ I'll just ask if they have any brothers they can introduce me to.

Aug 12 11 - 8:16am

I got a pixie cut at the end of 7th grade and kept it short until my sophomore year of high school. I loved it; adults loved it; my female peers thought it was awesome... But the guys? Not so much. When I eventually grew it out, it was because I decided I wanted a change (which, incidentally, is why I cut it in the first place), but the disparaging comments from my male friends did somewhat add to my desire. I eventually cut it short again the week after I graduated high school and have had it at varying lengths since.

Aug 12 11 - 10:02am

Okay, I'm a straight guy and have always thought girls with pixie cuts are incredibly sexy. You can see her face. Long flowing locks as the ultimate in "hot" is as much a product of advertising as anything. Keep it short, ladies!

Aug 12 11 - 1:18pm

Thanks for the confidence-booster, ZZ! Nice to know there are some guys who don't cringe at seeing a woman's neck or ears out there.

Aug 12 11 - 2:53pm

what. you couldn't find shaved head women. now that's short and hot as hell.

Aug 12 11 - 10:51pm

I LOVE short hair on girls, it borderlines on being fetish. Ideal would be something like meg ryan in youve got mail or jenna elfman in dharma & greg, its short but still feminine. I just dislike the short hair that looks like you did it yourself or some one eyed barber student like the girl in the 4th picture where its all jagged looking with split ends & dried out. That and super short 1/2 to 1" hair on girls

i like a little length of hair at least 2-3" of hair to be able to grab onto while in bed or just kissing her ;).

Aug 15 11 - 2:22am

"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."

this girl's got it right. i couldn't care less about attracting the kind of guy who thinks all women should have long hair because it's somehow more "feminine". it's one thing to have preferences, but those who feel really strongly about it (the kind of guy who would be personally offended by an article like this) are usually harboring some archaic ideas towards gender roles, which i find just as unattractive as they find girls with short hair. it's kind of a blessing, because i can immediately rule out those guys instead of waiting to discover their douchiness.

i have short hair because i like short hair, but it's still pretty awesome to know that there are guys who find it hot. my boyfriend included, who has historically ONLY dated girls with short hair. i'd rather be true to myself and attract people that way, even if i run the risk of having someone think i'm a dyke. worse things could happen.

Aug 17 11 - 10:50pm

My wife recently decided to cut off her hair. She went from shoulder length to pixie-ish (? don't know how to describe it really...) and has kept it as such.

Was a shocker when I came home and saw it for the first time, to be sure, but I quite like it and she definitely loves it!

ASB, above, has it right in that it still needs a wee bit of length - "at least 2-3" hair to be able to grab onto while in bed " ;)

Aug 18 11 - 5:59pm

I love the gals who flaunt their long, flowing hair. When I see short hair on a woman, I think "practical" and safe. Age doesn't matter. There is nothing more encouraging and pleasing than to see a woman over 60 who STILL loves grooming those long locks. How many actually look BEST with a short haircut? Maybe 2 0r 3 of 100, and maybe 15 of 100 can be said to rock the look. I rarely notice short hair.

Aug 21 11 - 11:16pm

This should be called: Girls with short hair (but don't worry, they all still like penis!!!) Does the fact that they're straight have to be mentioned in every profile? Is being perceived as gay such a bad thing?

Aug 22 11 - 10:22am

sadly, i'm not at all surprised by how many people are not only shamelessly homophobic but also embarrassingly ignorant. i guess as long as you're hiding behind a computer screen, it's ok to casually throw around the word "dyke" or talk about the misfortune of being mistaken for a lesbian (what could be worse?!). so disappointed and grossed out...

Oct 23 11 - 2:43am

thank you!

Dec 03 11 - 11:00pm

I had short spiky pixie hair in my early 20s, and while I was never mistaken for a boy (my face is round and girly to the point of looking babyish) I definitely noticed a difference in the people it attracted. I got no attention from the frat boy types - they seemed repulsed actually - but a lot more attention from indie rocker types and yes, lesbians. So I'd say short hair is a tool of attraction, but it attracts a specific type of person and seems to turn other people off. Depends on what you're looking for.

Jan 04 12 - 11:29pm

My hair's been every length, and most recently super-short for the past ten months. The woman who said men don't appreciate it is telling the damn truth - but man, what am I doing, tieing my sexuality up to what someone else likes? Nah, man, I'm going to think about what I want. They can think about what they want without my help.

May 23 12 - 11:01am

I cut off my super long curls when I was five, and have rocked the pixie cut for years now. I'm in my sophomore year of high school and I still have it. Although I get the occasional, "oh your a dyke" comment, though I'm straight, I would never change my short hair for anything in the world. People tell me I rock the look, and fits my personality so well. It's short and spunky, and the guys I have dated tell me it looks great on my 5'5" frame. I love short hair, and think women who have short hair are automatically fifteen times cooler than women with the "standard' long hair, who cant dare to be adventurous. (:

Jul 25 12 - 8:07am

I had my hair cut into a pixie cut in October last year..and I'm fooking loving it! :D I'v actually found guys seem to hit on me more now my face isn't hidden behind my hair. Loads of people say when you get a pixie cut you can't do much with it, but I can do more with my hair now then I could when it was long. It also suits my face shape! (: Now growing it into a new style of pixie cut and plan to get some highlights in it :D <3