Short Hair Myths: DEBUNKED
“I love your hair! I could never pull off short hair, but I wish I could!”
Do you know how many times people have told me that? Too. Freaking. Often. But I was once one of those people: a short hair doubter. Thankfully, with the encouragement of some amazing feminist peers, I was able to understand that I had accepted many lies about women and short hair. And by short, I mean short short, like the pixie, "boy cut," whatever you want to call it.
The truth is that I’d always admired short hair on women and wanted to try it myself. Just like how I loved women rocking suits and menswear. They seemed effortlessly chic and edgy, but in my mind, I couldn’t possibly do it. Growing up Korean American in a small suburban town, I didn’t know anyone who looked like my style icons and certainly not an Asian woman. Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, Jean Seberg: these were all famous white women who seemed to exist in an unobtainable world of celebrity perfection. I couldn't fathom joining the ranks of such goddesses given my typical Asian facial features.
But I finally cut my hair in January 2014 and with my 3 year hair anniversary, I thought I’d begin 2017 with the first Ugly Asian Girl blog series. I hope to encourage more women to cut their hair short but especially Asian women. I feel like I see more female celebrities and women in my community with short hair, but I still struggle to find Asian women out of the bunch! If you're an Asian woman with short hair reading this, let me know! Leave a comment, and say hi!
Before I kick things off, I'll admit that I’ve had moments of wanting my long hair back. Not because I didn’t like my short hair but I missed all the fun things I could do with longer locks: victory rolls, messy buns, braids, and plaits . . . But now I’m realising that realistic looking wigs can be affordable, and I’m currently looking into several different companies and styles.
But this post isn't about wigs. It’s about empowering more women to go short or at least try it! In this first of a three-part series, I talk about my own hair struggles and try to dispel some of the major myths that stopped me for so many years.
My face is too fat.
I’ll look like a boy/man.
I’ll lose my femininity.
Men will find me less attractive.
Do these thoughts sound familiar? They're what I constantly told myself for years, during which I felt like a prisoner in my hair and my body. I was constantly told by my mother and various forms of the “fashion police” that my face was round so I should always frame my face with long hair to make it appear slimmer. Having long hair was what I was supposed to do, but growing up, I wasn’t aware of how our culture and mainstream media glorifies long hair as part of an idealized female beauty. Now, my short hair has helped define my "look" and "brand" as an actress, and it continues to prove a positive topic of discussion for castings.
Looks like I proved my mother and all the haters wrong.
Myth #1: My face is too fat/round
First off, do we tell round-faced boys and men to grow out their hair because they need to slim their faces? Hell, no! And secondly, forget all the horrid “Do’s” and “Don’ts” about your face shape and all the rules that go with each one . . . Ultimately, what makes you feel comfortable, confident, and true to your spirit, that’s the haircut for you. And the amazing thing about hair is that it's not permanent. You might realise that short hair doesn't fit your fancy or that you don't vibe with your current cut or style. That's okay! Have fun, experiment, and you'll eventually find what you like!
If we continue to carry the mindset that a round-faced woman with short hair looks “weird,” “fat,” and “ugly,” we’ll continue to view them as such. Take Parris Goebel for example. She is a voluptuous badass, talented woman who went and shaved her head! It didn’t stop her from choreographing and appearing in Justin Beiber’s “Sorry” MV or continuing to be the absolute boss babe that she is.
Myth #2: I will look like a man.
Myth #3: I will lose my femininity.
Now, sometimes, we (including myself) need this simple reminder: you are you. No haircut, job or clothes will change that. These things might enhance certain aspects of who you are while also downplaying others. They might help you discover a skill, spark a change in your life, or give you more confidence to further your dreams and goals. But bottom line: don’t let arbitrary, fluctuating definitions of masculinity and femininity hold you back from doing what you want. Man, woman, or anything in-between and outside—you are you so don’t adhere to someone else’s definition of perfection at the cost of ignoring your own desires, interests, and happiness.
Myth #4: Men won’t find me as attractive.
This myth leads back to myths 2 and 3: If you’re a woman looking for a man’s attention and he finds you less attractive because you have short hair, then you need to drop him—like, yesterday. (But really, the same goes for anyone, regardless of gender).
I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never had moments of doubt in this area. But what helps me get out of my own head is to remember that I didn’t cut my hair for any man or woman. I cut my hair for me, and it has helped shape the person I am. If you can’t see beyond the length of my hair then you’re not worth my time.
A common thread through all of these myths was a lack of confidence. I didn't believe I was beautiful or “enough” in any way. So, I hid behind my long, curly hair, and as a result, my confidence was defined by it. As a result, when I cut my hair, I became more aware of how I actually looked. I was forced to take in all of my round, soft, chubby faced glory instead of trying to hide underneath my hair (and also my clothes).
I relearned my angles for pictures, I started to have fun with makeup, and I actually felt liberated in the process—free to wear what I wanted and express my presence. It was like a form of socially acceptable public nudity. I couldn’t hide anymore, and suddenly no one—including myself—could imagine me without short hair. I can't say that I will have short hair for the rest of my life, but the experience has given me so much more confidence to experiment with different looks and to express myself more honestly.
While cutting your hair won't solve all of your problems, what do you have to lose but the opportunity to learn more about yourself? I encourage all women to explore the possibility of short hair so please share this post if you agree that short hair looks beautiful on all women! If you want to follow the rest of this blog series, add me on Facebook and Instagram, and you'll be the first to know!