As I saw her long black locks falling in heaps on the ground, I wondered what all had she lost and decided to investigate.
“My husband will be very annoyed if I cut my hair. No doubt I like my long hair, but they are very difficult to manage. A short hair-do is so much practical,” says Shobha Singh, a makeup artist.
25-year-old Shivani Mattoo, always had short hair, clipped till her ears. Recently, she decided to grow them and there has been no looking back since. “My mother is very particular about my hair length now. Her reasoning is that I will get more marriage offers if I have long lustrous hair,” she laughs.
What is this Indian obsession with long hair?
A Delhi-based psychologist explains. “A woman with thick long hair emphasizes her feminity. If her hair is black and shiny, it portrays that she is clean, tidy and absolutely ‘pure’,” he says.
A quick check with my male friends confirms this fact. All of them told me they would like their partner to have long or medium hair, but definitely not short.
So maybe that’s why we don’t see many Halle Berry look-alikes walking on the road with their hair gelled in spikes and dyed copper and red.
Indian women have traditionally had long hair – thick and glossy black. They maintain it with henna and regular oiling. A snip here and there or a delicately cut fringe – that’s about as far as they would go.
Long hair is also a symbol of potent sexuality. In the movie “The Ugly Truth”, the hero Gerard Butler explains to his cocky, work obsessed boss, how to catch men. “Get hair extensions sweetheart,” Butler says, “a man likes to grab his woman’s hair.”
So now that my friend’s hair is no longer of “grabbable” length, does it mean she has lost her sexuality? Would she be labeled unattractive? Or a revolutionary? Or worst – a lesbian?
There could also be another way of looking at it. By cutting their hair short, women show they no longer style themselves just to please men. They have a mind of their own. Short hair could also be a symbol of strength and power. Maybe that’s why men look down on such women – who dare to buck the trend and decide for themselves what they want.
“I don’t want my wife to look smoking hot. She has to uphold my family values,” says Rajat Khullar, a 28-year-old marketing executive.
There is no way to verify whether or not short haired women become good wives. But they certainly become good administrators.
Have you noticed a peculiar pattern - that many women at the top have short no-nonsense hairstyles? What made them give up their long locks? Maybe they wanted to prove there was more to them than just their sexuality. Maybe they wanted to be liberated from the daily routine of shampoo-rinse-repeat-condition to focus on more important matters. Maybe they wanted to state clearly that they were going to change their lives. May be.
Which brings me back to my friend. As we walked out of the salon that day I could no longer hold my thoughts. “Why did you do it?” I asked.
“My mom just doesn’t understand that I am not ready to get married right now. Hopefully, this will settle the matter,” she said. It was then I noticed that her eyes were shining more than ever now that the fringe had been snipped away.
The most popular citizen journalists' reports on merinews chosen automatically on the basis of views and comments
View more jobs