You would think, with all that is wrong in the world, that a celebrity getting a haircut would not be news. Let’s see. On the scale of ‘what the human race should care about’, where exactly does this nugget of info fall? Lower down the scale than the whereabouts of Julian Assange? Higher than Suri Cruise’s shoes?
I’m talking about Miley Cyrus, as in Hannah Montana. She used to be seen sporting a ballet bun. Now she has a peroxide pixie crop. That is all. The rest is just a hillock of hair on a hairdresser’s floor.
Yet google the words ‘Miley Cyrus’ and ‘haircut’ and you will see that there’s more to it. As in 24 million results more. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of Ghana caring about one person’s hairstyle. Not even the Rachel got this much airtime.
People, you quickly gather from scrolling down the first million, are “shocked” that a girl would choose to debase herself like this. They think that by cutting her hair Cyrus is somehow robbing herself of her womanhood (or that she must be a lesbian … or at least mad). They think that other young girls might see her cut and – gasp! – chop off their own. Others have a more aesthetic response and think it’s just plain ugly. “Your barber is an asshole,” one rapper apparently tweeted. The message, overall, is simple, but for brevity’s sake I have distilled it into an equation. Long hair = lady.
Now we’ve all read Rapunzel. We know the myth about flowing tresses and femininity has been around a while. But, you know, that was a fairy tale about a woman imprisoned in a tower who is forced to let folk climb her hair. We should not be basing a shampoo ad on it, let alone real life.
Now that we’ve abandoned corsets and won the vote, we really should be able to do what we like with our crowning glory. Here are some famous women who have had short hair and somehow, extraordinarily, against all the odds, managed to remain women: Emma Watson, Rihanna, Audrey Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Williams, Sinead O’Connor, Jodie Foster, Carey Mulligan, Cat Power, Halle Berry ... Note that some are feminine and some androgynous, some gay and some straight, some black and some white, some musicians and some actors. All, without question, are women.
All of this has touched a nerve in your long-haired correspondent. I remembered when I was 16 and made up of hormones and a nose the size of Saturn. My hair, in those days, basically doubled up as a little mobile curtain that I aimed to keep closed as much of the time as possible.
Then, one day, I found a picture of Naomi Campbell in a magazine (I swear Free Your Mind by En Vogue was playing on my yellow ghetto blaster at the time, but this memory may have been warped by nostalgia). Here was a stunning, confident, slender-necked black woman (as close as I could get to Asian at the time) with a short and very sexy pixie crop. She was mind-blowing. I wanted to be her. Instead, I did the next best thing. I ripped out the picture and kept it in my pencil case, stroking it occasionally during maths.
Months later, following many a life-changing pep talk on the phone with my best friend Michael (short hair and gay, in case you’re wondering), I went to the hairdresser’s. I showed him the picture and he cut it all off. I remember the most delicious tickle on the back of my neck as he slid the clippers over it.
I remember the carpet of black hair that grew on the floor. But most of all I remember walking out of there with a new look and nowhere to hide. For the first time I felt like a proper, sexy woman with a hairstyle and a face and an idea of myself out there in the world. So perhaps one girl getting a hairdo can be news after all, at least to herself.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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