Jim Morrison was once quoted as saying that some of his worst mistakes in life were haircuts. But for many, a good shearing is like a mini-revolution, as our identities are often tangled up in our lengths. Lately, the dramatic celebrity chop has found fans in Emily Ratajkowski, who debuted a beachy faux bob at this year’s Golden Globes, and Selena Gomez, who parted with her down-to-there hair after reentering the media fray. And last year found Cara Delevingne, Victoria Beckham, and Elle Fanning lopping off length in favor of the freedom and insouciance found in shorter styles.
But there may be more to the phenomenon than simply taking on a new look. Just yesterday, Girls mainstay Jemima Kirke shed some light on her semi-recent chop in an online video in which the artist turned sometimes-actress revealed that a primary motivation for the dismantling of her bohemian blonde cascade of waves was her reliance on it as her main source of beauty (she called her hair her “go-to trick”). Kirke went on to say that she’d believed that without her Rapunzel-like lengths, she would be boring. (Her resulting messy bob, of course, is anything but.) The lesson? Separating self-esteem from a signifier of youth and traditional femininity puts your face, and the character it conveys, front and center—and is one way of freeing yourself from what weighs you down.