Having recently chopped off my locks for a Mohawk I engaged in discussions surrounding the “why” and oddly enough having to answer how the men in my life feel about it. You often hear about ladies cutting their hair in correlation with a major life change like getting a new job or getting a divorce – so how do we answer this question?
Having spent most of my career researching motivation theories I found that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs offered a pretty straight forward analysis.
1-SAFETY AND SECURITY : BIOLOGICAL NEEDS
Let me make this category simple. We are biologically engineered to find a mate, copulate and reproduce more horny little mammals. A girl will engineer her appearance to attract a mate, which according to research should bring her a partner who will not only bear her children but also provide safety and security for the family.
2- LOVE AND BELONGING : SOCIAL AFFILIATION
Let’s denominate this category as “fashion”. When Jennifer Aniston had her signature cut in Friends, 1 in every 5 girls in North America did too (fake statistic).
If you ever studied art history you would know that there are specific trends or “movements” in the process of creating art that are representational of the political/economical/social changes the group sees throughout history. These same trends can be seen in hair fashion (or fashion as a whole). Where historically women and men would mirror their royalty, today we turn to Hollywood.
Function too has its place. A girlfriend of mine recently cut her length into a functional bob after her first child because she was getting overheated while breastfeeding. Though she initially chopped it off for function I asked her if she felt a change. Her answer: “I suddenly felt free and in charge”.
3-SELF-ESTEEM : TRANSFORMATION
This is the Britney Spears moment. I would say that’s letting go of things you once loved and identified with to suddenly shift the way you/the world around you sees you will definitely create a certain level of “change”.
The big word here is “identity”, which continues to evolve into your late 20’s. Women are very lucky to have so much freedom of expression. A gal doesn’t feel great about herself she can play up the combination of thousands of variable to accomplish the task.
It saddens me to think that many women keep their locks because it pleases their partners, further anchoring their identity as an object of desire.
It’s true, many of us know it – we’ve at some point halted our personal growth and creative expression to feel love and accepted.
5- CREATIVITY : EMPOWERMENT
Expression is empowerment, asserting one’s own sexuality is empowerment, shedding one’s own sexuality is empowerment. A woman’s identity is anchored in her sexuality – how she chooses to express that is empowerment.
When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman. –Betty Friedan
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs if one doesn’t fulfill a higher level need, he/she may regress to lower level needs that seem easier to satisfy. I would assume that hair changes likely fall under “easier to satisfy” and “lower level need” but it sure as hell feels empowering to climb your way up that scale. The key for women to stop regressing down that scale is to shed their attachment to sexualization and personal power. It’s a part of our biology to be sexual, but our self-worth doesn’t need to be diminished to feeling desired. The irony of course is that empowerment will be the new sexy.