Florence Pugh stunned onlookers with her Met Gala buzzcut reveal earlier this year. And more recently, she’s explained the empowering reason she went for the big chop.
‘I purposefully chose to look like that. I wanted vanity out of the picture,’ she told the Daily Mail.
‘Whenever I’ve not needed to be glam or have a full face of makeup, I fight to keep it that way.’
Hair, particularly long hair, is seen as akin to femininity in Western beauty stereotypes – and so cutting it as a woman can feel like a loaded decision.
But there is something freeing in that.
Elizabeth Haigh, 24, knows this feeling well. The Londoner had wanted to try a buzzcut for years before committing to it last Christmas.
‘I’ve previously always had very long hair, and while I loved it I wanted to try something new that would make me stand out as a bit different,’ she says.
‘I wanted to challenge my own conceptions and expectations of the female image and change up my overall style with funkier earrings and more striking makeup.’
Initially Elizabeth struggled with confidence when not wearing makeup, but now she feels ‘amazing’ in a buzzcut no matter what.
‘I knew this initial lack of confidence was because of societal expectations rather than me actually feeling happy in my skin,’ she says.
‘Now I’ve gotten used to my new look and feel amazing – it’s more representative of who I am, and it feels freer and is a whole lot less time-consuming.
‘If anything, I feel more confident than I did before – and I never imagined I would get so many compliments on the shape of my skull!’
Fighting against gendered beauty norms is one thing, but Elizabeth, who identifies as a queer woman, also found herself up against stereotypes regarding sexuality too.
‘I had doubts about cutting my hair because I worried I was adhering to the stereotypes surrounding queer women, and I used to take pride in being queer but not looking like some would expect me to,’ she explains.
‘But I realised my hair does not define my identity, and my identity does not define my hair.
‘I am queer, and I have short hair. Some days I wear business suits, other days I wear floral dresses and matching jewellery.
‘I love my buzzcut and would encourage anyone considering taking the step to do it.’
Keziah Doudy-Yepmo, 25, from London, also found the buzzcut boosted her confidence after making the spontaneous decision one morning.
‘I couldn’t get my hair through a comb one day, so walked out of my house to the nearest barbers,’ she says.
‘It was probably less than an hour between when I thought about cutting it and it being cut completely. I felt excited and nervous.
‘I got to know my face again and appreciate it as I couldn’t hide behind hair.’
She started modelling soon after cutting her hair, believing that: ‘Nowadays I think people are more open to women having very short hair, and we can be seen equally as beautiful as people with longer hair.’
Plenty of people have come up to her in the street to compliment her look, and a woman with alopecia once said she felt ‘more courageous’ about cutting her hair after a conversation with Keziah.
Keziah also ‘became cool’ with not ‘needing to prove’ her femininity anymore, ultimately improving her own self-perception.
Her mother had cut her hair short in the past too – something that Keziah, as a child, ‘didn’t totally get and wasn’t on board with at first’.
‘But as I grew up and developed my understanding of race and Black women’s experience in the world, that made me more proud of being a Black woman and all the different ways we look,’ she says.
Women shaving their hair has always been about more than the simple act of chopping it off.
Celebrities have long spoken about their reasons for opting for a buzz – in 2009, Solange decided to cut her hair after realising how much time and money she’d spent on long locks, and in 2015, Rose McGowan said long hair gave her ‘a sex target on my back’ and attracted men in an unpleasant way.
Sinéad O’Connor also famously buzzed her hair as an act of defiance against record executives who wanted her to look ‘pretty’.
Now with the resurging popularity of the 90s cut, ‘pretty’ is being redefined – but it’ll always be a nerve-wracking decision for women to go short.
Rebecca Reed, 35, from Oxfordshire, was worried about how she’d look after deciding to shave her hair for a local charity in Didcot, Be Free Young Carers.
Though she’s since grown it back out to shoulder length, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed the cut.
‘I chose a hair shave in particular because my hair is such a huge part of my identity and I knew people would be incredibly shocked,’ she says of her decision to incorporate this into her charity efforts.
‘It was a bold move and so I hoped this would raise a good amount of money and the charity is hugely close to my heart as I was a young carer when I was a child.’
She didn’t take long to deliberate over it, saying ‘the idea hit me like a lightening bolt’.
‘It was weird and quite nerve-wracking,’ she remembers. ‘I had no idea what my head shape would be like or how my strong features would look afterwards.
‘My hair had always been a safety blanket for me, something to hide behind on a bad skin day or a talking point in parties with people asking “is your hair naturally curly”.
‘I wasn’t sure what it would be like without that safety there.
‘What also made it hard was that I had a little one-year-old at the time and he often played with my hair to soothe himself to sleep, so I was super worried about how he’d react.
‘Surprisingly, once the hair was gone, it was quite liberating and my little boy didn’t even properly notice until my husband rubbed my bald head that evening.’
Plenty of positives came from the cut, from practical things like going swimming without worrying about her hair and being cooler during summer, to receiving compliments about how well she pulled the look off.
However, she did struggle with feeling ‘less feminine and attractive’, given the messaging women receive around their hair. Though, she also ‘took comfort’ in it.
With celebs like Florence rocking the ‘do, the buzzcut is going nowhere. And it seems what you lose in hair, you gain back in so many other ways.
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