I'm aware the ratio of long-haired women is way bigger than that of short-haired women in India. Though a lot of women had short/non-long hair at my ex-workplace, most of the women on the buses/trains have long hair. Women I see in the hair salons only get the edge of their long hair trimmed. When a Bollywood actress gets her hair short, media makes a big fuss.
But it was only when I saw this vlog that I realised of the pricking criticism which short-haired women daily receive in India:
It was a wake-up call for me. This time, I considered about the short hair of women.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY TO WOMEN WITH SHORT HAIR
So the criticism/questions short-haired women receive from people (even from strangers) are like:
- Too Westernised
- Do you have cancer?
- Do you have any issues like hair fall?
- Are you a lesbian?
- Looks like a boy
- Girls look nice with a long hair
- Your boyfriend/husband thinks long hair is more attractive
- Short hair doesn’t suit traditional clothes
Familiar with these?
HOW IT IS IN JAPAN AND HOW I DID IN JAPAN
In Japan, women’s short hair is very common. But Japan is still a highly monocultural society. If you go blond or dye a colour which is not dark brown, or go bald or Mohawk, it would become almost impossible to get a ‘normal’ office/sales/service job. Even if not bald, if you cut it very short like crew-cut, some people might think many of the list above.
I’ve had a short hair whole life except for 5 years when I was learning Bharatnatyam. I grew my hair that time to attach the head decorations properly for concerts.
I have gone bald as well. Everyone asked me ‘What’s changed in your life?”. For my case, it was actually for a change in my life. I had just quit a job which was extremely stressful and pushed me to the early stage of depression. That was the time I faced my life, asked myself what I want to do (or rather, what God is telling me to do).
In my primary school days, my hair had been too short ‘for a girl’. Besides I never wore skirts. So people always mistook me for a boy (and my brother for a girl). I liked it. Do you ask why?
In retrospect, I think I had a feeling of disgust towards ’girldom’. I thought the image of a girl as ‘sweet’ ‘frills-and-pink-loving’, what society expects from girls, is yucky. I didn’t want to become “a girl who wants to present herself as a ‘sweet girl’”. But it's not that I wanted to actually become a boy. I started sewing which ordinary boys never do, I collected cute stationaries which ordinary boys never touch, I loved ‘jump elastic-band’ which ordinary boys never play.
(This photo reminds me of me and my little brother in our childhood)
DO WE NEED TO BE 'FEMININE'? DO WE NEED TO ATTRACT SOMEONE?
While listing the criticisms which short-haired women face, I picked up the points:
1. Society is scared of women becoming ‘unlike women’ or ‘unfeminine’
2. The priority for men’s view, like “women should look attractive to men”
3. Sexuality and outfit are connected based on the blind assumption
Femininity (automatically, masculinity as well) is defined by society. A feminine person look like this, they behave like this, and women should be feminine.
But being a woman and being feminine often don’t go together. It depends on the individual, mood, etc etc.
Why does the society want women to be feminine? And who are the ones that want to connect women's attractiveness and femininity? Especially when elements of femininity often imply vulnerability or mildness or submissiveness? Let's keep thinking who wants us to stay feminine.
OK, suppose many men like long-haired women (putting aside the question ‘what of long-haired women do they actually like?’). Why should women have long hair because of that? Why do we think ‘how should I look to be picked’? Do many men think like 'how should I look to be picked by girls/women'?
WE women also pick men (or women, or… whatever the gender you desire!). WE choose whom we like. Why do we need to be flowers waiting for the bees to come?
First of all, why do we need to make efforts for other people to judge us as “looking attractive”? For whom do we present ourselves?
When Rihanna had her hair very short, a TV host tweeted as “Rihanna needs to grow her hair back. Fast”.
Rihanna tweeted him back:
How we look/style our hair/dress are none of other people’s business. After living some decades, I am getting a conclusion that people look attractive only when they are happy with themselves and confidently stay how they truly are.
And… “Are you a lesbian?” is nothing but a crap, lmao! Why tf do they think so? These people don’t know any lesbians with long hair. Oh, many people still don’t admit that homosexuality exists anyway, so there’s a bit long way to go…
Traditional clothes? Like Mandira Bedi or Swastika Mukherjee nailing it in sarees (one of Indian traditional clothes), of course we all can nail it in any clothes with short hair.
And I must add here... Those who actually had to lose hair against their will, for cancer treatment etc.... I applaud for your bravery, for your great fight against the tough enemy. Please remember, you are beautiful because of your bravery.
Short/long hair is not a statement of political view nor feminist nor sexuality, but the matter of individual choice, like what we wear. If you have a short hair ‘like men’ do you get power, or is it a symbol of being a lesbian who don’t need to be selected by men? No. It’s the matter of freedom to be truly yourself, ignoring the categorization by others.
I'd love to hear how you feel about your hair, the situation around short-haired women, femininity, etc. Please leave comments!
After writing all these, I'm feeling like a very short smart haircut. Chalo, I go get my ‘boy cut’ done, hahaha!