For those of you who don’t know, I work in a hair salon. I welcome clients at the front desk and check them out, so I have a lot of interactions with people who are cutting or coloring their hair. When working in this environment I’ve heard a comment that I’m pretty used to by now: “I love you hair! It’s so brave that you cut it all off!”
I’ve had a pixie cut for about 3-4 years, so I’m pretty used to people commenting on it. But sometimes it really bothers me that someone would consider my haircut “brave”. But we hear these kinds of comments all the time. It isn’t just with hair but also when you wear an atypical color or have a ton of visible tattoos. The comment comes out like a compliment, or is usually said in a very nice way. But it feels a little bit like a way to point out that someone is going against the norm. That they would have to be brave to do what they’ve done because they’re facing judgement.
I’m not here to insult people who use these comments. They are usually trying to be nice and I often take what they say to be kind or intended as a compliment. But I wonder, what is so brave about cutting your hair into a pixie cut? What do people fear about it? I often see women approach me with an almost remorseful look on their faces because “they could never be brave enough” or “their face shape just couldn’t pull it off”. And this makes me so sad. What are they afraid is going to happen to them? No one is ever called “brave” for growing their hair out.
I think many women fear that their hair is the only thing that keeps them feminine and desirable. I know plenty of people who just want long hair, and that’s not a problem, but there is nothing to fear from having short hair. I remember when I decided to cut my hair. I have a bit of dramatic streak, so I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do and just went for it. But those same concerns ran through my head: What if I look like a guy? What if my face shape is too severe and manly? I think so many women are terrified of the rejection we might face from failing to conform to feminine beauty standards like wearing dresses or having long hair.
I’m sure I’m not the first person who has had an older relative ask if I was a lesbian because of my haircut and propensity to attend the pride parade (nothing wrong with being a lesbian of course, but stereotypes aren’t so nice). But what bothers me the most is how many women look at my haircut with such a longing. It is sad that such a little thing feels impossible for so many ladies because of the pressure to appear more feminine. And the ironic thing is that I’ve never felt more beautiful or feminine than I do with this haircut.
I used to use my hair as a shield, a cover. It hung over my hunched shoulders in high school and covered my forehead in college. It was always a bit limp and undone because I am pretty lazy about my hair. I didn’t want to curl it every day or use endless products. I just wanted to wake up and go. I always felt like my hair was signal that I was a pretty girl, a feminine girl. But as soon as I cut it off something funny happened: I felt freed. I had nowhere to hide my face anymore, and I started to like it better. Styling short hair was so much easier and I could create more striking looks. Wear your hair over your forehead with short bangs and you look like a 90’s Demi Moore. Style it up and high to feel like a sculpted queen. Finally I could see my eyelashes from the side profile and there were no distractions. Finally I could see myself as I always was.
This may seem a little dramatic, but cutting my hair meant a lot to me. I don’t think I felt more beautiful because I actually was. I have always looked this way. But I felt beautiful because I was free of my hiding place. My inherent aspect of “femininity.” This might be why women are so desperate to cut off their hair but so afraid. Hair is a kind of security for them. I see women in my salon panicking at the idea of cutting off even a few inches. But with a pixie cut a woman has nothing to lose. If romantic interests don’t like you because you have “dude hair”, then they weren’t so great anyway. And at least you tried something that is often so scary to so many people.
So ladies, I don’t want to hear anyone saying “pixie cuts are so brave” or “you have the perfect face shape for it but I don’t.” Cause guess what?? I don’t have the perfect face shape for a pixie. I just tried it and now I feel confident. You could cut your hair and it could look terrible. But what’s wrong with trying? Hair always grows back. Men are working man-buns and girls are killing that shaved-head look. So is a pixie really that scary? If you want mermaid hair, have mermaid hair. If you have a lob go for it. But don’t like society decide what you do with your body. It’s not a very fun way to live.
Hi Katefish!! I just found your site while looking for new ways to style my pixie cut and have to say I can totally relate to this article. I live in a very rural community full of women with long hair and rhinestones on their jeans, so having a really short pixie cut (my hair’s silver/grey by the way and I’m over 50), plus visible tattoos, really makes me stand out. I don’t think a day passes when someone will come up to me and compliment my hair, tell me they wish they could do this and that I’m so brave. But you know what? I do feel brave, just not because of my haircut. I feel brave because I really and truly don’t mind what others think of me, I feel brave because I’ve lived through some horrible situations and have come out of them stronger, wiser and kinder. And yeah, there are days when I do feel brave because I’ve dared to go against the grain, I’ve dared to find my femininity in something other than my hair. So to those ladies who tell my I’m brave because of my haircut, I reply “you can be brave too, it’s just hair”.
Thanks so much for sharing Lauri! It’s awesome that you can help people realize that they can do what you did and feel brave too. I’m so glad your pixie cut empowers you like mine does (it can be even harder with natural grey hair and tattoos!). Thanks so much for reading as well!