Does The Woman Make The Hair? Or The Hair Make The Woman?

Like many women I have a love, hate relationship with my hair. On the one hand I love my hair. It’s one of my best friends. It keeps my ears warm (or used to, but more on that later), compliments my eyes, and makes me feel… all girly and stuff.

If there’s one thing that helps women define a woman’s femininity, it’s our hair.  In a recent interview with SFX, Gwendoline Christie , the new star of HBO’s Game of Thrones, confines what it meant to chop off her pretty blonde locks.

“When they cut my hair off, the transformation was complete,” she says. “I really, really miss it. When I had it cut I was a good girl on set – I went to my dialogue session and my horse-riding session – then I went to my hotel room, shut the door and sobbed for two hours.”

For Christie, as a six foot three woman, her hair provided her a reassurance of her femininity. It may not be possible for all of us to match up to the small, willowy frames our childhood princesses sported; so we settle for the next best thing – Princess hair. Where would Repunzle be if now if not for her long, following hair? What is Snow White if she doesn’t have her hair black as coal? If there’s one thing that made a Princess a Princess – it was her hair.

However, is Princess hair really do-able, or like the Princesses themselves, is it just a fantasy?

In an ideal world I would have fantastic hair. Long, silky, with just the right amount of volume. I would wake up, run my fingers through it, and leave the house with birds singing around my bouffant mane. When I gave my head a wiggle it would do that thing hair does in adverts, where the sun bounces off it and makes it look like the sun is literally renting a room on top of your head. I would literally be the centre of the solar system. Planets would gravitate around my head – that’s how fantastic my fantasy hair would be.

Is my hair like that? No.

Here’s my hair and the lead singer of Dry the River. Notice his hair is longer, also notice how you’re (hopefully) not confused who belongs to what gender. 

I have short hair, very short hair. Why? Because in real life, only a select few have Princess hair and one of them is Kate Middleton. The rest of us aren’t capable of having long, silky smooth hair. Our heads just won’t have it. In my case, my hair grew up to my shoulders before having a systematic melt down and leaving split ends all over the place. My hair is also curly, which is a polite term for frizzy. Meaning if I wanted nice hair, I would either have to sit perfectly still for 6 hours and let the bitch dry naturally, or spend an hour burning my face off with strengtheners hot enough to melt steel.

Needless to say, I went with option C and just cut the damn stuff off. And while I would like to say ‘Oh I just felt so liberated, like a Joan of Arc but with hair and stuff’ what I actually felt was sadness. Seeing my hair on the floor I felt exposed, like some kind of shield had been taken away from me. Without hair I had nothing to hide behind. Suddenly I was very conscious of how unisex my pants were, of how they squeeze my hips and gave an ever so slight muffin top. I wanted to put more make up on, change my trainers for high heels – just do something to vindicate my womanhood.

It’s was only later, when I started to lose my preconceived notions of what a woman should look like, that I was able to acknowledge that my hair looked great. For once I wasn’t weighed down by my unmanageable hair. It didn’t six hours to style it, I didn’t feel the need to burn it alive before venturing out in public. And more importantly, I accepted that it suited me.

My eyes looked bigger, it made my cheek bones stand out. Without a mane of hair, I saw that hey, my neck isn’t half bad – it’s long, makes me look like a Jane Austen character.
Now by no means am I suggesting that every woman who reads this blog (hey flatmates) has to go out immediately and cut off all their hair. That would be silly, just look at Kerry Katona. But what I am saying is: don’t be afraid.

If you find yourself on tumblr, doing nothing but stare at pictures of Carey Muligan and moaning ‘God I wish I had hair like that, but it’s just so… short’. Fuck it. Cut it off. Who knows, you might look great – you might look AMAZING! Don’t cling to your princess hair hoping that one day a handsome prince will yank his way up your tresses and affirm your femininity. Newsflash: as women we all have vaginas, long hair or no.

What makes us women, what makes us feminine is what we make it to be. Our identity is unique to us, not to be placed into a category set out for us by fairytale books.

I mean Christ, just think how long Rapunzel has to spend washing that mane. No wonder Disney made her chop it off. 

3 thoughts on “Does The Woman Make The Hair? Or The Hair Make The Woman?

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