Hair - The Long and Short of It

Let me start off by saying that I love my hair.  In the realm of differences between men and women, length of hair is usually one of the main differences with how the different genders choose to present themselves.  With the longer hair and the finer attention for aesthetics which women generally have, it also allows us to do some pretty interesting things with our hair.  An evolutionary biologist might say that long hair in women in ancient times would have indicated that they had been healthy for a long time and would therefore be a good choice for a mate.  This may or may not be the case, but certainly in the history of mankind, women have generally been associated with long hair and men not as much.  In fact some women have such iconic hair that an attempt to portray them is impossible without a certain colour and style (think Marilyn Monroe or Cleopatra for two.) 
 

  

Hair therefore forms an integral part of how a woman views herself and how others see her.  The choice to shave off one's hair is one which is usually seen as radical and in recent years it has been done for fashion (Sinead), a movie role (most recently Natalie Portman  to play Evey Hammond but also Demi Moore and Robin Tunney) or because the person apparently went crazy (Britney.)  Out of the public spotlight this may occur for various other reasons.  For instance all recruits to the American military college "The Citadel" are required to shave their heads.  When women sued and got the right to be admitted, the requirement for shaved heads was not modified.  Last week was our break from school also known as Reading Week.  Very few people actually read, a lot headed south and probably an equal portion headed home.  This left me mostly alone in my 5 person-shared house.  I was not completely poorly off.  My family lives in the same city as me, so I still got home for some visits, but I mostly sequestered myself and actually read.  This was mostly school books, but for those who were following my actions last week, I did grab a few comic books out my family's joint collection (safely guarded in my dad's study) and re-read them and even reviewed some of them online here.  I grabbed one specific series, Elektra volume 1 from the late 90s.  I was actually happy that I did, as the series was a pretty well written one with even some decent action and I never really noticed before.  What surprised me though was in the course of its 19 issue run it had not one, but two bald females, both by their own choice.   
 

The specifics of why they shaved their heads are maybe not necessarily relevant, rather the fact that they did it in the first place.  I have heard it said that if a woman wants to shave her head, that it is an extremely difficult look to pull off unless they are extremely beautiful.  This is not much of an issue for Natalie Portman, and nor is it an issue for comic book characters.  Most comic characters are drawn extremely attractive anyway, it doesn't matter much if they are supporting characters or main characters.  While I suppose that this puts the onus on the artist to be always be on their A-game when drawing these characters it doesn't really bother me.  What does bother me (as usual I guess) is that the purpose of cutting their hair is usually given relatively little context and once again a fashion statement is a plot device instead of character development.   
 
The thing which I found most interesting about this short run on Elektra was not the short hair, but rather the extremes at both ends of hair.  For while her two supporting characters have extremely short hair, Elektra on the other hand has extremely long hair.  Those who follow my blogs  might remember back to one of my earliest posts where I suggested the various ways female comic book characters are drawn which would not be realistic in an actual battle or during crimefighting.  One of my main culprits was loose clothing or loose hair.  It would make just too much of an easy target for their opponents.  As you can see in the following picture Elektra's hair is more than halfway down her body: 
 
 "No comment" on Logan's hair
 
 I don't know much about self-defense, I have taken a couple of course to keep me safe, but one thing I did learn was this, where the head goes the body goes.  As hair is attached to the head you could extrapolate that where the hair goes, the head often follows.  This means that a 5 year old with grabby hands could quite possibly incapacitate Elektra, let alone her archnemesis Bullseye, who is not known for fighting fair.  I can let that pass though as just another exaggeration of comic book depiction of women.  The real issue is maybe more why would any woman ever grow her hair that long.  The far reaches of my memory recall that there was a heroine in the Global Guardians at one point by the name of Lady Godiva who could form her hair into whatever she chose.  It was a pretty weak power, but the only real reason why
 someone would want to have such long hair.  I like my hair long, but for me that means shoulder length, when it gets to shoulder blades I know it has been long enough between haircuts.  I have run across women in real life who have lower back length hair, but they spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about how hard it is to care for.  Seriously, in an earlier post I made fun of Batman for wasting his time stopping a dognapper when there was real crime to stop.  Would Elektra be any more justified that ten people died because she had to take two hours to wash her hair? 
19 Comments
19 Comments
Posted by thehummingbird
  1. I often notice this as well in comics. Most short haired girls in comics are used to portray the more so tough wild and dangerous girls. I believt his can be reflected int he outfits of the girls you used as examples in the comic book. Catwoman is one of the very few characters that I would argue break this mold. Selina Kyle is extremely feminine (I can not deny, however, that she is wild), and does not give off that though girl present. Another thing you mentioned was how the Elektra series was made in the 1990's. Short hair and the rise of grunge, was very popular and any easy stereotype at the time to portray through black leather clothes and short hair for girls. Often as I read comic books (I often annotate and come up for reasons characters have certain outfits and accessories I believe it offers a lot of insight) I wish the reason of Why? they cut their hair was answered, not that it just gives off a certain tough, or feminine vibe. The stereotype of long hair has exsisted forever. I have never seen a drawing of Eve with short hair in my life, and I always find this interesting. This is probably because Eve would not have come as feminine and as cute when she got Adam to eat the apple....Sorry started to ramble XP
Posted by RazzaTazz

Well Catwoman has been portrayed as with long hair up until about 8 years ago.  She may go back some day.  There is also a difference between short hair (like Halle Berry for instance) and shaved hair.  Going almost bald is a huge decision for a woman, but like you said there should be some good story behind why wanting to do it other than wanting to look different. 
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Edited by thehummingbird
@RazzaTazz:  
 
 
RANDOM and wasting a post to get my ban (XD I keep typing band) lifted....cause I am busy and do not have time to be thorough about what I write....The citadel is near some of the places I go in town...the restrictions and such with hair is a joke and it is a horrible college you could not pay me to go there...I had forgotten about Catwoman's long hair it is interesting to think how she got all that hair in her hood thing...because I know they ditched the long flowing hair look a long time ago. I personally believe the short hair suites her better just my opinion though...>.> Then again maybe the artist chose because it does give a more wild and womanly appeal than long hair. Often I associate unintentionally long hair with girls and short hair with women if that makes sense....
Posted by RazzaTazz
@thehummingbird:
She used to wear the hair out just like the silver age Batgirl used to.  The hood she wears now is a pretty new version of her look (though one which I like.)  I guess at some point women decide they want to cut their hair shorter, but there are a lot of stunning older woman still with long hair (check out Vanessa Redgrave for instance.)
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Posted by thehummingbird
@RazzaTazz:   
 
I like the older batgirl design, but similar to you I absolutely adore the newest Catwoman work. I especially adored the cover at for the I think finished its run two years ago cat woman series. I am also quite fond of the goggles. I think she looks sexier than most of the more revealing girl characters such as Black Canary. That was the word I could not think of in my last post. Vanessa Redgrave is stunning she was gorgeous I had never seen her before =)
Posted by RazzaTazz
@thehummingbird:

I have been a fan of Catwoman through all her incarnations, but its a tossup for me between the purple costume and the new black one.  I think part of the reason that the first volume of Catwoman was so much fun to read and I associate that with the purple costume. 
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Posted by thehummingbird

I like I said adore the new one to an extreme....I would love to make a costume for her....but the material is expensive...and all comic book girls are so tall....I have never read the original Catwoman that shall be added to my list of things to look for when I head to my local comic shop, they have lots of really old stuff....for really cheap....

Posted by RazzaTazz

Thats the best part about old issues, they are cheap and usually just as good.  My comic book store allows its patrons to read back issues for free too which is pretty cool.    Maybe when I get some time I will review some of the issues from the series which I thought were best.  

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Posted by Caligula

Short Hair is sexy










Posted by thehummingbird
@Caligula:  
 
I adore your Catherine Icon I am so excited about the game North American release =D
Posted by Caligula
@thehummingbird said:
" @Caligula:   I adore your Catherine Icon I am so excited about the game North American release =D "
thanks me too :D
Posted by RazzaTazz
@Caligula: Well there is a difference between short hair and a shaved head.  
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Posted by Caligula
@RazzaTazz said:
" @Caligula: Well there is a difference between short hair and a shaved head.   "
Shaved heads can be sexy too.
 it all depends on if you have the head for it.
Posted by ragdollpurps

Gotta love Brody Dale. 
 
Hmm... I'm just going to give my opinion cause I'm a hair person. I have purple hair. Its how most people identify me. ( ex: Do you know that one girl Ariana, with the purple hair? Pshhh of course! :P) But it is really, and I mean REALLY long. It's about six inches short of reaching my butt crack, but I wouldn't say that it's hard to manage. Although, I will say that everyone that I've talked that have dyed their hair regardless of it's length, have been really impressed that my hair can be that long AND dyed and not be fried to a crisp. They always ask me what products I use and if I use any special techniques when dying to keep my hair from drying and breaking, but the truth is that I really don't do anything special to it. I even use 40 vol. developer (like anyone here is going to know what I'm talking about xD) when I bleach my roots, which is the strongest volume. Most salons wont use over 20 vol. for fear of frying their clients' hair. But the few times that I've actually gone to have hair done at the salon, as opposed to doing myself like I would normally do, the stylist fried my hair. Now I really do not know if its just my hair texture or if it's because it's my hair and I know it best, but like I said, I wouldn't say that my extremely long hair is hard to manage. I'm an active girl, I do a lot of martial arts, kickboxing, dance and I've never had a problem with it getting in the way. Of course I do put it up while doing those things, but all I need to put it up (f I can't find an elastic or clip) is a single stick, pencil, chopstick, etc.-- which I find takes less time to put up than if I were to do it with an elastic. I was thinking the other day about the Spider women and how Arachne's costume and Spider-Girl's new costume were similar and how their hair was really the only defining differentiating feature. And I have to say that I really do like Arana's ponytail more than just having all of your hair out. From a crime fighting standpoint it's a hell of a lot more practical than just letting it all loose. It wont necessarily get in your face (although if you were to look back really fast it may) and from an artistic stand point a ponytail still gives you an opportunity to draw long, beautifully flowing hair as well as give your figure a sense of dynamism. 
 
...Or you could just go Chun-Li style, and bun it up. Worked for Leia.

Posted by The Poet

I apologise, but the topic of hair always makes me think of the original HAIR:
  

  Just skip over to 0.39.
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Posted by RazzaTazz
@ragdollpurps: Cool post, thanks for taking the time to reply.  I agree with you that long hair would not be a huge encumbrance, but would still be a pain if it was loose  (though as I pointed out this is relatively acceptable because we are talking about comics here.)
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Posted by rogue_mar1e

Interesting post :)
Enjoyed reading it

Posted by Obtrusive

I actually was talking to a friend about this last month or so that female fighting characters should at least do something to get hair out of their face.

Posted by Assassin_Elektra

Interesting to bring this up about Elektra's hairstyle and the two supporting characters Konrad aka "Konnie" and Nina being near bald. But I believe a less complicated answer to things would be the fact that Konnie was actually a man trying to cope with being trapped in a woman's body, so naturally he chose a look that would be more comfortable for him/herself to deal with, hence the crew cut hair. The younger blonde girl, Nina loved the look on Konnie. stating "You Rule!" just after Konnie got the style change in issue #10. Nina later became a villain after becoming resurrected and influenced by The Hand, and ultimately taking on the rebellious look similar to that in which she previously expressed a liking for with Konnie. Which could potentially be why the girl changed to the punk rock rebel look once becoming 'Bad'.

As for taking hours to care for long hair, I have to disagree in some cases. Pending on the hair type and what you try to do with it. I myself have hair down to my hips, it's fairly thick and has a slight natural wave to it. It takes me no more than 10 minutes to fix it up before work, and washing and drying no longer than 30 minutes with a shower. Perhaps those who complain it's time consuming to care for long hair simply over process their hair or have difficult hair types.

I've also been into athletic sports and kickboxing for years, my long hair really isn't any trouble, sometimes it requires a quick tie back elastic or sometimes pending on the activity it's easiest with it in a single ponytail braid. Which so long as you know how to braid it takes no longer than 5 minutes.

Plus it makes sense for Elektra to have long hair since Samurai warriors all traditionally have long hair, and she follows the code of Samurai as seen in the three part "American Samurai" in the Elektra vol 1 series. So I don't think there are a lot of people dying in the comic world because Elektra has long hair, she probably knows how to manage it. Haha.