Jun 6, 2011

The Rapunzel Effect...or hairy and hairier

by Michelle Douglas

Reading: Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge

Watching: P!nk's Funhouse Tour DVD

Listening to: Bette Midler (have a crush on her bluegrass/gospel version of Delta Dawn)

Making me smile: Zumba for the Wii (I'm so bad at it!)

Rapunzel always kind of annoyed me. If her hair was long enough for the prince to climb up to the tower, then why on earth didn't she cut it off, plait it into some kind of rope and climb down the tower herself? Now, of course, it is possible that she might have been afraid of heights. It is also possible that was simply plain vain. After all, what if the prince didn't like her new hairstyle?

Passive heroines are no long in vogue (thank heavens!), but what about long hair?

Did you know that there is a 13-level categorisation system for hair length? At number 1 is chin level hair. Ankle/floor length hair is at number 12 with Fairy Tale Hair at 13 (in homage, I'm guessing,to Rapunzel).

When I was an undergraduate I let my hair grow. I had limited funds and hairdressing expeditions were an expense I decided to dispense with. This may also have been in rebellion to my childhood. We spent a lot of the summer at the beach and as a result my mother insisted I have super-short hair. And, honestly, false modesty aside, I wasn't a pretty child. I remember having arguments with people who thought I was a boy (and ordering me out of the ladies toilets!).

I finished university, I met the man who has since become my dh, and he LOVED my long hair. So I let it be... and it continued to grow - to level 8 Classic length (see below).

I got a lot of comments and people would want to touch it, but hey, it was just hair, right?

Throughout the ages, however, hair has not always been just hair. Hair length has often been freighted with significance. In ancient Greece, long hair was a symbol of wealth and power, while a shaven head was appropriate for a slave. In the Middle Ages in Europe, short hair often indicated peasantry or servitude. In the English civil war of the 1600s hair length could indicate whether one was a roundhead (short hair) or a cavalier (long hair). Hair length even gets a mention in the bible: "Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering" (1 Corinthians 11: 14-15). Short hair has been enforced as a form of control in the military and police forces. In the 1960s, a lot of men wore their hair long as a political or counterculture form of protest.

But sometimes hair is just for fun!

When I started working fulltime in a corporate environment, I did cut my hair - to level 4 (midback level). It's been at that length or thereabouts for the last 8 or so years. A week ago, however, I took the plunge and I'm now at level 2 - flip level. My hair feels so light! I spent the first hour after my haircut tossing my head so I could feel my hair bounce and swish (and probably looking like an absolute lunatic in the process).

Here are the before and after shots:

Remember the movie Sliding Doors? Remember the moment when Gwyneth Paltrow's character lopped her luscious dark locks for that super-short, super-blonde, super-funky cut? Women the world over loved it. How we wear our hair is one of the most important ways we have of presenting ourselves to the world. So, do we really think women with long hair are more beautiful than women with short hair? And tell me - now that regular hair saloon visits are going to become a must for me - have you ever had the haircut from hell?


  1. Hey Michelle, *love* the new look.

    My hair was about the same length as yours until nearly 12 months ago when I had it all cut off.. really, really short! Don't think my 'beauty' changed between snips, lol.


  2. Michelle you actually look younger - very nice!
    I too got my long hair cut to just below my shoulders (while in Fiji) it's so much easier to look after, considering it will only grow back all too soon anyway!
    I think women who can pull off the short hairdo are superhot - Halle Berry comes to mind, she's just gorgeous.

  3. Michelle, your wedding hair is GORGEOUS!!! But I'm also *loving* the new hair you =)

    While I was pregnant with kidlet no 2, I grew my hair right down my back. It was thick and healthy, with no dye in sight. About a month after giving birth, I decided to go super short. So it all came off.

    I cried.

    I looked like my mother.

    That was eighteen years ago. Recently I chopped off my long hair for a bit of a Meg Ryan look, and I love it! Think it all depends on who's holding the scissors!

  4. Why is it men love long hair? Since I left the corporate world a few years back to write full time, I've grown my hair longer than it's been for twenty years, thinking I could finally let my hair down and not be forced into perfect grooming every day in the black suit and heels and six weekly hair cuts . . . and now it's long, I always wear it up in a clip :) Go figure.

    Love your new 'do' Michelle.

  5. Love the new look, Michelle, and I think Mel is right -- you do look younger!

    My hair won't grow past my shoulders. (My mother and grandmother were the same.) Now that I have dreadlocks my hair is nearly at my waist for the first time in my life. I love it! In fact, I couldn't bring myself to chop it back to shoulder length for summer. Maybe next summer....

  6. I love long hair and at one time had hair I could sit on. Then I cut it off really really short. Shocked my poor husband but the heat of the summer was getting to me. I have sort of followed a long to short pattern for about 40 years now. The last two times I went from longer (about level 4) to short hair I donated it to locks of love. I won't be able to do that again as I'm getting some grey hair now. I really went short the last time I cut it and it was at the end of November which is winter here so my ears suffered from the cold a lot.

    I love your new look. You will find that you need less shampoo and conditioner. That is about the length mine is right now and I love to shake it around as well.

  7. Hi Anita, I love your short hair -- it's very cheeky and cute. But then, I do have a conference photo with you and your hair is long... and you still look cheeky and cute. So you're right -- you're *beauty* didn't change .

  8. Ooh, Mel, Halle Berry looks super gorgeous with her short hair. What I wouldn't give for that woman's cheekbones!

    You're right, shorter hair is WAY easier to look after. I can't believe how quickly it dries now (and in this colder weather that is something I'm very grateful for). My mother saw my new "do" for the first time today and she thinks I look younger too *happy, happy face here*.

  9. Robbie, the dh adored my long, long hair. I got back aches when I cut it all off, because I was still sweeping my head to one side whenever I sat down so I didn't sit on it (or didn't shut it in the car door etc). It took me a while to stop doing that. I had a horrible moment the day after, though, thinking I'd made a mistake so I understand your tears!

    I love your Meg Ryan "do". < Think it all depends on who's holding the scissors!> Right, I've made a note of that. My trip to the salon did seem ridiculously expensive. But... I do love what they've done so I guess I'll just have to wear it :-).

  10. LOL, Helen, about always wearing your hair in a clip now. When home, I always just pulled my hair back into a low ponytail (v daggy). TBH, I was never very good with doing things to it, like plaits or up dos. Plus, longer hair drove me insane in the colder weather because I'd want to wear it out to keep warm, but the static electricity (from my polar fleece jumpers) would send me mad. That's one of the main reasons I had it lopped. And I'm not regretting it yet :-).

  11. Thanks, Em.

    Wow, your dreadlocks are fab! I can't believe your hair doesn't normally grow past your shoulders. If you love the current length then there's no reason to chop it off is there? I'd say just enjoy it! :-)

  12. Yay, Kaelee, a fellow head shaker!

    When I had my super long hair, I tried to find a charity I could donate it to, but nobody wanted it. I hear you on the cold ears (which is one of the reasons I didn't go shorter). I've invested in a few scarves to keep the neck warm. TBH, I am so loving this length (and using less shampoo and conditioner as you say) that I can't see me going back to longer hair. Don't you think there's something addictive about having hair you can shake?

  13. Michelle, I love your new do. It's fun, it's flirty, it's you. :)

    I've had super short hair in winter and don't think I'll ever do it again - my ears froze. But shoulder length is good for all occasions. ATM, mine is a bit shorter than your 'before' shot above. I can't even imagine having hair as long as your first photo! Stunning!

  14. Thanks, Rach. :-)

    I don't think I'll ever do super-short again (blame it on my devastating childhood experiences ). Plus, freezing ears are not something I'm eager to try (you and Kaelee haven't made it sound enticing). I burn really easily too. Sunburnt ears? That would be a (literal) pain.

    Funny experiences with long hair: 1. Dancing on a dance floor and someone walks by and your hair gets caught on their button and you get dragged along in their wake. 2. Closing hair in car door and friend starts driving off, towing you behind. 3. Walking down the Champs Elysee, wind whips up and hair literally stand straight up in the air... people pointed.

  15. Michelle, I found the historical stuff about hair fascinating.

    As to the new hairstyle - you look gorgeous. But then you looked lovely with long locks too. Great fun to have an image change, however, and it'll half the time for drying hair too. Enjoy!

  16. Zana, it wasn't until I was idly browsing the internet looking up hairstyles (hoping to find a style that took my fancy) that I discovered what a significant role hair length has played throughout the ages. It is fascinating. It's started me thinking about a plot in which a Greek slave poses as a free woman... I'd guess she'd need a wig!

    The image change has been fun. It has me itching to write some kind of makeover or ugly duckling transforming into a swan story. :-)

  17. Michelle

    Love the new hair style, like you I always had really long hair very straight and long the day I got married I went to the hair dressers at 7-00am with my own curlers and she washed and set it and I left there with the curlers in and she came to my place at around 4.30 that afternoon to do my hair and the bridesmaides and when she took the curlers out, my hair was still fairly wet and straight LOL so we borrowed heated curlers from everyone we could and got it done but as the night wore on you can see in the photos that my hair gets straigter as the hours go on LOL.
    I had it cut really short when I was pregnant with my 2nd child (he is 29 now) and have kept it that way ever since because it is so strong it is easy to look after as long as I make to the hairdressers at least every 5 weeks

    Have Fun

  18. Wow, Helen! It took that long and that much effort to curl your hair? Wow. I bet it looked fabulous, though. :-)

    Hairdressers every 5 weeks, huh? Till now, I've been lucky to make it 3 times a year. Guess I better start upping my game .

  19. Wow Michelle!! Loved the long hair of yours.. with a bit of envy! And I'm sad you cut it :-/

    Actually I love long hair, though it takes a lot to maintain at home, and especially the drying part after a hair wash.. ;)

    But my hair is really curly (read like ropelike), and somehow it never grows beyond level 2.. :( I see for about a year..then the ends are so uneven that I just trim it myself within 2 minutes..in the process cutting about 1 inch of those jagged edges..and then wait as usual.

    I had my last hair cut when I was umm...twelve.. and that was twenty years ago :-/ :Sigh: Maybe since my hair doesn't grow, I love the longer hair....?

  20. Hi Ju, isn't it funny how we always want the opposite to what we have? When you said you have really curly hair, I immediately sighed in envy. I bet it looks fabulous! I understand your frustration, though, with it refusing to grow. Hey, maybe you should try dreadlocks like Emily!

    And I love how you can cut your hair yourself. I am absolutely positively not even going to try that! Shuddering at the thought of the disaster I would make of it. No doubt I would end up with freezing ears .

  21. Love 'Writing Screenplays that Sell.' Have had it for ages and used it for teaching. Loved Sliding Doors too and have just done a Gwyneth Paltrow and chopped my hair off and had it dyed platinum blond. Squee. Not used to it yet but everyone says I look heaps younger so it must be good, ha ha.


  22. Hi Michelle,

    Love your new hair-do! Way easier to care for.

  23. Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for sharing the pics of before and after the great hair cut. I love your new look! Can't wait to see it in person.

    Sadly after years trying different styles I've decided short and simple suits me. I don't mind that, but it would be nice once in a while to try long and glam too!

  24. Denise -- Yay on the Gwyneth/Sliding Doors hairdo! From your picture, you look tres glam! (And yes, I'm enjoying the you-look-younger comments too).

    Am loving Hauge's WSTS. Am just chewing off little bites and mulling them slowly. :-)

  25. Thanks, Nas! I really am enjoying the ease of my new style!

  26. Hi Annie,

    I love your short and simple. And I'm thinking that for the RWAust cocktail party, your hair would look VERY glam with a 1920's style art deco hair accessory/fascinator. Hmm... am thinking we could all look pretty glam with one of those.

    Thanks for the kind comments. Am off to investigate hair accessories now .

  27. Coming in late Michelle, but I just had to say that I LOVE your new hair!! It really suits you, and I agree with the others, it does make you look younger. Gorgeous!

  28. Hey, Leah, you can chime in as late as you want with compliments like those. :-)


  29. I'm late to visit, too, Michelle! But I had to pop in and say, I love your new hair-do!

    Fascinating about the categorisation system for hair length! I think I'm at ... minus one!

    Yep, I've definitely had the hair do from hell... just as well the stuff grows back, isn't it! I had a perm and the roller kinked back on itself... which meant that the hair from that particular roller broke off just about scalp level... to touch it felt like bristles. Fortunately it was only one roller so it didn't "look" too bad. But I was rather fearful that more hair might break... I think that was the last time I had a perm!


  30. Thanks, Sharon. And OMG that is indeed a scary hair-do from hell story! Oh, am so glad it all didn't break -- making me shudder just thinking about it. Perms? Oh yes, I was a teenager in the 80s. Thinking back now to spiral perms, I don't know whether to laugh or shake my head. :-)

    I have to say the categorisation system did make me wonder where on earth a buzz cut would come in.

  31. Long hair on women will ALWAYS be "in vogue" in the eyes of most men. Your haircut looks good, but I must admit, your long wavy locks would have driven me crazy! As a husband, seeing sensuous hair such as yours vanish would have been purr...etty sad! LOL God bless!