Haircut buzz is sensationalist and reinforces societal norms

In Opinion
(Courtesy of Vimeo)

When a freshly bleached-blonde, buzz-cut Kristen Stewart made her way onto the red carpet of her movie premiere Thursday, Hollywood’s verdict was no surprise.

When a woman cuts her hair above the shoulders, it’s somehow still labeled as a rebellious act or an important choice. It isn’t considered “normal,” and women always get asked the ever popular question: Why? Why did you do it?

Not only is this banal, but it substantiates the idea that women are blindly supposed to follow certain norms in order to fit into society.

Stewart, who attended the premiere of her upcoming movie “Personal Shopper,” joined the ranks of Charlize Theron, Sigourney Weaver and Demi Moore, who also cut their long locks for a starring role in a film.

Just as those before her, Stewart didn’t casually show up to the red carpet with a haircut. Instead, she made “a statement” or appeared to ignite “a beauty moment” for buzz cuts as articles like Vogue and L.A. Weekly vouched for her.

Since her haircut, interviewers haven’t held back their curiosity about Stewart’s new look. She was quizzed about it in interviews on “Today” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

In “Today,” host Willie Geist compliments Stewart on her film but stops short to get to “what everyone is thinking right now.” Stewart questions what the statement really means but goes on to explain her hair as “practical” for an upcoming role where she plays a mechanical engineer who works in an oil rig at the ocean floor.

Upon elaborating, Stewart revealed that although the haircut is for her role, it is something she had been wanting to do for a long time.

The words “brave” and “edgy” riddle articles regarding a woman’s decision to cut her hair, further showing that it is not “normal” for women to look this way, or even want to.

From headlines in Marie Claire’s “22 Famous Ladies Who Look Great with a Buzz Cut” to Vogue’s “23 Women Who Rock A Shaved Head,” each spout the significance of such an action as cutting hair–a traditional symbol of a woman’s femininity.

Entertainment and celebrity news outlets like to make a big deal about it, but the truth is that it is not “entirely new,” as even Vogue will admit.

From Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You” to Willow Smith’s “I Am Me” videos, both women found themselves scrutinized for displaying such “drastic” changes in their hair.

Smith, who frequently went through different colors and hairstyles, received criticism after buzzing off her hair while O’Connor states that she faced backlash from record executives who wanted her to grow out her hair and dress a certain way to exude attractiveness, according to a Huffington Post interview.

These types of articles and lists push meaningless discourse on hair and, in effect, emphasizes and conditions shock to such actions. Women’s hair choices are newsworthy in a way that men’s looks and style choices rarely are. People should stop being genuinely startled.

Deciding as a woman to buzz cut or shave hair shouldn’t just be a point of shock, a rebellious act or an open invitation into investigating or questioning her sexuality. What should be considered is just a simple and nice change.

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