How Haircuts Are Still Used To Stereotype Women
English dailies and social media have taken a keen interest in Ivanka Trump’s latest haircut, a “political bob” and how it could be interpreted as “nod to her growing ambitions.” Haven’t you noticed? There’s a way each “kind” of woman is expected to wear her hair. So that it helps others categorises her. No matter what her own intension to wear her hair a certain way may have been. Be it Trump or any other woman, our haircuts say a lot about us, but de we actually want them to, is a different question altogether?
- Ivanka Trump has traded her long tresses for what is called a “political bob.”
- Are people reading too much into a haircut, or is Ivanka indeed giving us a hint to her future political plans?
- Haircuts are largely used to stereotype women and even men.
- Have we ended up internalised these stereotypes as well?
Seen as a masculine or “tomboy” haircut, short hair automatically classifies the women having it as rebellious, boyish, unladylike and whatnot.
Stereotypes have ways of finding their way into our lives. They are everywhere, from the way we dress to the way we eat or talk or choose to wear our hair. A girl with curls is seen as wild and unruly. Greys make you look distinguished. Long hair is feminine. Short hair is masculine. There is a lot your hair says about you to other people. Or let us rephrase that, there is a lot people read into your haircut. And that is what just happened with Ivanka Trump as well. Why just Trump though, don’t we tend to judge women and even men by their haircut?
For someone who maintained short hair well into the second year of her college, hair length is a touchy subject. Seen as a masculine or “tomboy” haircut, short hair automatically classifies the women having it as rebellious, boyish, unladylike and whatnot. It made up for difficult teens, growing up in a small town, where a choice easily became a label, without one saying a word. Other haircuts enjoy a similar fate when it comes to stereotyping. A bob makes you ambitious. That’s a cut for corporate women, or as pointed out by many articles on Ivanka’s hairstyle, women in politics. Long hair, on the other hand, is largely appreciated, especially in traditional Indian households. Considered a sign of femininity, aren’t girls encouraged to grow out their hair, as they approach a marriageable age?
While haircut can be a label it can be a statement too. It can and should be anything you want it to be and not the other way around.
Women themselves have ended up internalising these stereotypes, and thus use the length of their hair to make a statement about themselves. Fun, chic, demure, career-oriented, graceful, we let our hair announce who we are to the world. Hair becomes your style statement. A banner of your personality, thoughts and even sexuality. It can be a symbol of a changed you, or just something new to give your predictable daily life a little shake up. Why just last month, I got a new hairstyle because I was bored to death with my old one. That and the incessant monsoon had taken a toll on my curls. So while haircut can be a label it can be a statement too. It can and should be anything you want it to be and not the other way around.
However, is that justification enough to let people stereotype our hairstyles? Are we reading too much into Ivanka’s political bob, or is she indeed trying to send out a signal to the world with them? Moreover, what does a person do, when they only wear their hair a certain way because they like it, but do not want to be stereotyped? Is there any way to dodge the web of stereotyping?
Image Credit: InStyle
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.