Short hair, for a woman, is a statement. One of confidence, empowerment, counterculture, and saying "fuck it" to the beauty norms. Or, you know, it's just a haircut. The idea of super-short hair on a woman is no longer such a rarity that the world will gasp in shock and clutch its collective pearls when they see it in the wild. Sometimes, hair is just hair and not an act of protesting the patriarchy. Sometimes, we just like the way something looks on our head.
According to Hairstory Studio's founder and creative director Michael Gordon, cropped hair is no longer a form of androgyny but rather a way for women to convey a new type of beauty. "I think that this is more about women not wanting to be overly identified by their hair. At the same time, these women are displaying a new kind of femininity; maybe the absence of hair allows them to be seen as more open and honest."
What prompted this shift to short? "I think there’s a sort of rebellion of independence going on with women who are frustrated with the stereotypical, pumped-up, Kardashian-y look, which is so much about overt sexuality that it actually isn’t very sexy," explains Gordon. "In a way, it also encourages a more subtle but consistent use of makeup; it’s effortless."
Wes Sharpton, Hairstory's resident stylist, who is aptly called the "scissor wizard" (best business-card job title ever), says that what makes this "unapologetic" cut stand out from your run-of-the-mill pixie is not just how it looks, but how it's cut. "The main difference between this type of cut and a longer cut lies in the technique, referred to as 'scissors-over-comb.' This is where you place the comb close to the head, or on the head, and move the shears very quickly. The distance you put between the comb and the shear determines how short you can go."
Sharpton notes that the shape of the head has a big influence on the length and style of the cut. Since not everyone has a symmetrical head shape, he says, it's about finding balance, but not obscuring or "correcting" that uniqueness. In other words, perfection is not the name of the game here, so if you are someone who loves uniformity and control, this is probably not your jam. "Nobody’s perfect, but I like imperfections and I like when people embrace their own imperfections," he says. "I also really love people’s unusual growth patterns and cowlicks, which can be so beautiful in their own micro-level way, kind of galaxy-esque swirls — you really notice this with cuts this short."
But for the love of all things holy, don't call this style a pixie. "I hate the term pixie," says Gordon. "I feel like it’s a term that any woman['s] short hair is referred to as, when in reality there are so many different kinds of short haircuts," he says. "I think what most people refer to as a 'pixie' is actually a very boring, not very good haircut; it’s rather soccer mom-ish." Ouch. Gordon is clearly pulling no punches on pixies.
To help illustrate the unusual beauty and versatility of the scissors-over-comb cut, Sharpton transformed five stunning women by giving them variations of the look. The results differed in length, shape, and style, but were all equally open, free, and sexy in their own right. Ahead, the women talk about their relationships with their hair and how the comb crop (that's what we've dubbed it) made them feel.
For those still unconvinced of the power of the shear, Gordon offers up this passage from Ernest Hemingway's The Garden of Eden: "Her hair was cropped as short as a boy's. It was cut with no compromises. It was brushed back, heavy as always, but the sides were cut short and the ears that grew close to her head were clear and the tawny line of her hair was cropped close to her head and smooth and sweeping back. ... 'You see,' she said. 'That’s the surprise. I’m a girl. But now I’m a boy too and I can do anything and anything and anything.'" The ultimate girl-power motto, if we've ever heard one.