The Significance of Haircuts

Gwen C. Katz

For most of us, a haircut is a periodic necessity, but in fiction, haircuts only happen to make a statement. Being an appearance-related story element, the use and connotations of fictional haircuts are fraught with complex gendered implications. A character getting a haircut sends a message, and that message may contain layers of meaning that the author didn’t intend. Let’s have a look.

evey-haircutFictional haircuts come in two varieties: The traumatic and the dramatic. Traumatic haircuts are involuntary, either forcibly inflicted on a character by someone else (Evey in V for Vendetta) or carried out by the character out of necessity in response to an involuntary, traumatic situation (Fantine in Les Miserables). Dramatic haircuts, on the other hand, are carried out voluntarily by the character, often by their own hand, to signal a decision or turning point that they chose themselves. Thus, for instance, having one’s head shaved…

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