What’s Hair Got to Do With It?

A woman sitting alone outside
I’m warning you right now I’m about to make a sweeping generalization, and I am fully preparing myself for a reasonably hostile response.

Most guys prefer women with longer hair.

There, I said it. Now, I will immediately follow that comment with all the required caveats:

* Not all guys prefer women with longer hair.

* Indeed, some men but not most prefer women with short hair.

* There’s actually scientific evidence to support this statement, in this case a reference to a study from the journal Human Nature.

* Every single day, men fall in love with women who wear their hair short.

* “Longer hair” is a pretty loose term it does not require flowing tresses that extend more than halfway down a woman’s back. Suffice it to say that if most of a girl’s neck is exposed, she probably has what I would consider short hair.

Because I’m still anticipating a somewhat hostile response, here are a few more caveats:

* Hair length on women has absolutely nothing to do with character and/or spirituality. Yes, there are a few Bible verses related to a woman’s hair, but I have never seen a credible argument that longer hair is evidence of greater Christian maturity.

* If a guy is attracted to or is already in a relationship with a girl and she decides to cut her hair short, the guy rarely stops liking her based on this act alone. (If he does, he’s probably pretty shallow anyway.)

* This preference typically begins to diminish with age. Younger men tend to prefer younger women who have longer hair, yet the closer one gets to retirement, the less hair length tends to matter.

* During our several years of marriage, my wife has worn her hair both longer and shorter. My love for her has never changed, but I will admit that given the choice, I find her hair not her more attractive when it’s not too short.

So why am I talking about this? Is hair length really that important?

No, it’s not, certainly not in the grand scheme of life and faith. But it’s my experience that Boundless readers are genuinely interested in how and what the opposite sex thinks. And for all the women who devote time and attention to exercise, nutrition, clothing and makeup and there’s certainly nothing wrong with those things when they’re practiced in moderation they rarely consider something as simple as hair length.

But if most guys don’t like short hair on women, then why do so many women cut their hair short? I can’t say for sure, but I have a few ideas. Some women simply don’t want to bother with caring for long hair. Others get bored with their hairstyle after a while and long for a change, any change. Still others see a short haircut they like on some other woman and decide to try it for themselves.

Have you ever noticed the reaction to this? When the newly short-haired girl first appears at school or at work, other women tend to gather round and compliment her, usually telling her how cute she looks with her new “do.” The men, meanwhile, usually look up only long enough to remark: “Sure, looks nice.” Or they simply smile and say nothing. To be brutally honest, some guys barely even notice.

The point is that women with short haircuts are affirmed almost exclusively by … other women. Ask their husbands or boyfriends, and most will admit though rarely to the woman’s face that they kinda liked it better when her hair wasn’t so short.

Let me quote a relationship columnist far more knowledgeable than myself Candice Watters, from her article “Should I pay more attention to my appearance?“:

Yes, my heart and character is a key part of what attracted Steve, but I’d be omitting half the story if I didn’t also say that as I grew my severe, short and sassy haircut out to a more feminine length, he began to find me more attractive.

Of course, this concept pertains to men, too. A guy who sports a two-foot-long beard or is covered in tattoos certainly might appeal to some women, but probably not the majority of the female population.

Now before I get hammered by critics who insist that what’s on the inside matters far more than mere appearances, let me say I agree. Wholeheartedly. But let me quote once more from Candice’s column on physical appearance: “The kind of man a godly woman should want to marry would esteem a woman who strives to be lovely, both inside and out.”

But what do Boundless readers think? Am I all wrong? Do male readers actually prefer it when their wives or girlfriends go “short and sassy”? At the same time, are there things guys can do to change their appearance that women generally prefer? (For example, I shaved off my goatee several years ago when I noticed similar facial hair on just about every mechanic and Chili’s waiter in town, but maybe that’s just me.)

Then again, it’s only hair. Just because God has every one of them numbered doesn’t mean they can’t be short.

About the Author

Thomas Jeffries

Thomas Jeffries is a journalist, editor and recreational basketball player. He was born on the east coast, grew up in the Midwest and now resides with his wife and kids in Colorado. Thomas has written for several magazines, newspapers and websites, but his greatest passion as a writer is long-form narrative nonfiction. His journalistic adventures have taken him from Washington, D.C., to inner-city Chicago to Florida’s death row. In his spare time, Thomas does a lot of mundane things — none of them worth describing in detail.