Kristen Stewart debuted a bleached blonde buzz-cut at the Los Angeles premiere of her movie, Personal Shopper on Wednesday. The public unveiling of the new hairstyle – for an upcoming role – could also be read as a subtextual acknowledgement of her increasingly public sexual persona.
In an interview with the Sunday Times a week earlier, Stewart reiterated her stance on making her romantic relationships public, calling her decision to do so “important and topical”. This comes just a month after she teasingly announced on Saturday Night Live to none other than President Donald Trump: “Dude, I’m like so gay.”
Kristen Stewart earlier in the year (on left) and with her new ‘do on the right.
Katy Perry changed her hair too, last week, opting for a short, blonde crop, reminiscent of Miley Cyrus, circa 2013. Perry maintained her haircut had nothing to do with the “respectful, loving space” she was taking from Orlando Bloom, (whatever that means). But, I mean, we know what it means. It means she doesn’t want anyone to think she fell for another douchebag. She already shared that her ex-husband Russell Brand ghosted her and that John Mayer actually happened. She doesn’t need a third blow. Besides, you don’t tweet “no one’s a victim or a villain” unless you’re feeling like you need to maybe get some personal power back.
Entertainment reporter and writer Elaine Lui describes the drastic chop as “a direct reaction to the break-up”.
Memorable celebrity hair changes
It happens, she says “when you want to rid yourself of that era, literally cutting yourself off from that time, that person. It’s the kind of dramatic beginning that follows a dramatic end”.
Speaking of dramatic endings, Hillary Clinton stepped out with a new ‘do on Friday. Before we plunge into the usual rhetoric about not judging a politician on her appearance just because she’s female, we ought to remember that Clinton herself said, somewhat ruefully, in 1996: “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.”
Clinton knows what you’re thinking, and she and her hairdresser would know that, for whatever reason we the public don’t yet know, Clinton, with her fringe, and slightly longer hair, is displaying a softer side.
But back to celebrities. Scarlett Johansson’s acrimonious divorce stepped into darker territory on Thursday, after the bitter custody battle for her daughter became public. Johansson released a statement that reads as a very civil throwdown. A “how dare you try me” to her ex-husband. Johansson’s hair, meanwhile, is the shortest it’s ever been.
Scarlett Johansson’s hair is the shortest it’s ever been.
Lest the reader judge us for judging something so trivial as a haircut, may we point out that these hairstyle changes made headlines around the Internet. Even Hillary’s “Hiking Mum” Bob. Especially Hillary’s Mum Bob.
But for the celebrities, (like most female superstars), high-octane sexuality is their currency – literally.
Katy Perry is working a Miley 2.0 post her split with Orlando Bloom.
What this means, in concrete terms, is that their beauty and fashion choices – and anything else that impacts their appearance – ultimately impacts their career. How could it not? They achieved fame because they look a certain way. What the haircut announces, clearer and louder than any PR statement could, is that they’re shifting their brand from soft to empowered. And they want the world to notice.
Admittedly, these women might not even be consciously in touch with the exact reason why they’re cutting off their crowning glory, something that has for eons been synonymous with potent female sexuality. Conversely, Miley Cyrus, who is reportedly starting a family with her fiance Liam Hemsworth this year, has grown her hair out.
In her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, writer Ariel Levy said that when a society becomes more conservative, their idea of female beauty changes with it. She cited the adoration of blonde, thin, tan celebrities such as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton and Christina Aguilera during the time George W Bush was president as proof. Donald Trump might be President now, but the country awoke to political consciousness – including feminism – under the Obama administration.
Put simply, these hairstyles aren’t solely about denouncing douchebags or officially coming out. They are a reflection of the times we’re living in. Singers and actors often set trends but they don’t operate in a vacuum. These women are taking a calculated risk; aware of the fact that their fan base will be receptive to it.