Why androgynous beauty is having its moment again
Short hair, don't care. It seems like something that started out as a hairstyle trend for women, is now seen as a bit of a statement. Against what exactly? Perhaps against outdated notions of how a woman should look, an expression of personal freedom or a reaction against the overly-manicured beauty trend that has been making waves over the past few years. We may not be sure what exactly it all means, and we can't speak for the motivations behind their new looks — but we're loving the fact that some of the women at the top of their fields today including actress Kristen Stewart, singer Katy Perry and model Cara Delevingne have gone the short route with their pixie cuts and even buzzcuts. At the height of the careers, they sported long hair. Many women who occupy the spotlight are even eschewing heavy makeup or growing out their brows, and choosing to look... well more like their natural selves. Now, we know what you're thinking. So what? Butch women have been rocking this look for centuries. And for them it's not a 'trend' but a conscious choice.
Well, as far as 'trends' go, we think this one's actually quite healthy. Like it or not, celebrities have a certain level of visibility and influence, and it is important for young women, men and transgendered individuals to see this growing diversity reflected in mainstream media and print — and for different forms of beauty to be showcased and celebrated. If you think the long-haired princess ideal is a problem of the past, you need only look at the many articles on how most kiddy literature is still peddling antiquated values or the video that went viral on the ugly truth about children's books. It's similar to the call for diverse racial representation in fashion — moving beyond the trend for say token black, or Asian models, in any one season, and forcing designers and magazine editors to be held accountable while demanding a continual move towards fairer representation. What the media is doing by being more responsible, will hopefully bolster the self-esteem of an individual who is feeling marginalised or under-represented — whether it's because of their skin tone, hair type or body shape. We are after all the product of the books, film, television, magazine, websites and Instagram feeds we voraciously consume every day.
And when it comes to inspiring figureheads... well the impact of even one outstanding individual to an entire community cannot be underestimated. Comedian and writer-director Jordan Peele of Get Out fame told The Guardian that former US President Barack Obama, "changed the country in an enormous way. Just look at the fact that young black people had a new level that we felt we could aspire to. I think before Obama there was a glass ceiling." And as shallow as it sounds, the normalisation of the idea of butch beauty beyond being solely seen an identifier of sexual preference or gender identity is quite freeing. While Stewart has identified as bisexual and Delevingne has called her sexuality "liquid", this comes secondary to the fact that their new cropped hairdos and tomboyish styles are simply considered cool, by their legions of young fans.
The fact that these prominent and successful, young women have chosen what used to be a traditionally male hairdo and owned it is fresh and inspiring. The fact that they're comfortable in their skin without the need for the traditional feminine signifiers — think long hair, painted nails, high heels or heavy lipstick in their downtime — gives rise to the idea that women don't have to be done all the time. And for that matter, that women don't have to answer to the pressure to be feminine or even attractive in the narrowest definition of the word. The bottomline is that people need options in their life. And presenting the world with more diverse, kickass forms of beauty — from Tilda Swinton to Samira Wiley – beyond a Kardashian or princess type is not a bad thing in our books. Nevermind the buzzcuts.