I’ll never forget it. I was 10 and, upon meeting me for the first time, my sister’s neighbour asked: “What’s your cute little brother’s name?”
OK sure, I was a bit of a tomboy but I somehow knew immediately that it was my new super short haircut that had confused her. “I’m a girl!” I whined rather meekly as my 10-year-old brain was forever etched with the message: Real girls have long hair.
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And, an informal Twitter survey seems to back this up. While most men and women agreed that it really depends on the woman, when pressed, most men admit they prefer long hair.
There may be some evolutionary evidence to back them up. According to the lab coats, the quality and length of a woman’s hair serves as a marker of genetic strength and overall health and thus, her desirability as reproductive material.
Of course, by this reasoning, women should be all over men sporting long ponytails and, well, let’s not go there, shall we? (In fact, for a hilarious and very practical guide to all things men say/do/wear that are dating deal breakers, check out Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex).
Still, in one study published in the research journal Human Nature, researchers found that women who had originally been rated by a test group as being less attractive were rated far more highly when shown with a longer hairstyle.
Interestingly, as they get older, past their reproductive years, most women choose shorter haircuts because they are considered more “age appropriate.”
Of course, men are not ruled entirely by their inner cave man and some men told me they actually prefer short hair on women of any age.
Of course, even from an evolutionary perspective, shiny, lustrous short hair would be a better sign of health than damaged, dull long hair. But, the truth is, some women just look pretty darn sexy in short hair. Still, culturally, we strongly associate long hair with sex appeal and femininity. Short hair is associated with boyishness and asexuality.
Obviously, we communicate a lot with our hair. And, unlike other parts of our body, it’s one thing we can easily change and manipulate. Which is why I actually admire women who can rock a short haircut and look sexy.
It’s as if she’s thumbing her nose at traditional notions of female sexuality and telling the world that she doesn’t have to buy into it. That she can be sexy on her own terms.
It almost makes me want to go out and get a sexy, short haircut. If I could only get my inner 10-year-old on board with the idea.
Josey Vogels is a sex and relationship columnist and author of five books on the subjects. For more info, visit joseyvogels.com.