Why is the de facto standard Boys = Short hair, Girls = long hair?

The only thing i can think of is maybe this custom comes from the hunter and gatherer times where long hair would get in the way of men to hunt effectively. Makes sense right? But why would women have long hair? It doesnt seem to have a purpose other then cutting it would be a waste of time.

the standard is much more recent than that. I think it was only a few hundred years ago that European men started wearing their hair short.

I have guesses, but no answers for why though.

(my guess is that it has something to do with soldiers having to shave bald to avoid lice during the wars.

I actually remember reading that some great leader (Alexander the Great? maybe?) Made sure all their men shave so the enemies could not grab their hair or facial hair in close combat.

If I were guessing I would say it is because long hair requires more care than short hair, and being able to keep it up demonstrates that someone has enough free time to be a member of the leisure class. Like being able to maintain long fingernails and pale skin back in the day when people did outdoor work in the hot sun, it proves someone doesn’t have to work. Of course, now that manual labor is less prevalent than indoor work you can do sitting down, it’s not a good indicator, but the custom remains.

The buttons on women’s clothes are on the left, where they can be most easily buttoned by another person, because women had ladies maids for dressing, or wanted to appear as though they had them.

The length of hair on both men and women vary from time to time and from culture to culture. Women’s hair naturally grows longer than men’s and that may be a sexual signal. Or it may be that long men’s hair gets in the way when doing traditionally “male” activities.

The reason that modern U.S. culture defaulted to short hair on men for a large chunk of the 20th century is simply that long hair was considered effeminate. Just a bit of psychosis on the part of our culture.

My WAG is that long, flowing hair is complimentary to the “curviness” of the female form.

Notions of “long hair on men = bad” and “short hair on women = bad” didn’t just appear out of nowhere in the 20th century, though. The apostle Paul made a similar assertion some time earlier:

“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (Corinthians 11:14 - 15)

This is still understood by many streams of Christianity to mean that men and boys should cut their hair short, while women and girls should leave their hair long (if not uncut).


I’m male and have had my hair as long as hanging near my buttocks. It took about two years to grow that long, from a normal short haircut. My beard, also will grow quite long if given free reign. I’ve never heard of any actual differences in the terminal length of hair growth between males and females, individual experiences aside.

Only a “What I’ve Heard” type annecdote, but most of my barbers have all said that mens’ hair is natually thicker, longer and glossier then most womens.

I’ll second this hypothesis. Compare Pamela Anderson to say, Mary Lou Retton. No contest. Not to mention Kelly Bundy. Wow. (Yes, I know her real name).

I don’t think this can be taken all the way back to prehistoric times. Are you American? Ever look at our money? Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton – they all had long hair (and most of them wore wigs!). The cultural bias for men to have short hair is much, much, much, more recent.

Not consistently. As somebody else observed, there’s a lot of variance over time and across cultures. Roman men from a couple centuries BC until the time of Hadrian favored short hair and clean shaved faces, for instance. Scipio Africanus is sometimes credited with popularizing daily shaving. There is some evidence that they considered beards and long hair on men something the barbarians did.

(Hadrian reversed the clean-shaven trend by making beards popular. It is claimed that he grew a beard to hide his bad complexion. And kicked off a fashion trend of beard wearing by Roman emperors for the next 100 years.)

Should I have specified that by “the cultural bias,” I meant “the current cultural bias”?

Are you suggesting that through centuries of changing fashions, the cultural bias of the Roman Empire is actually a major factor in today’s preference for short haired men in our culture?

I believe that yabob was simply saying that the culture of hair length hasn’t remained consistent over the centuries, by giving two examples of how it changed dramatically in the past. There have been periods when it was fashionable for men to have long hair and periods when it’s been fashionable for short. There’s nothing new about short hair being fashionable for men, because it cycles. You were correct that the current cycle of short hair for men is relatively recent, but I think yabob was referring to the big picture and not the history of our current cultural trend.

I took yabob’s comment to imply some sort of disagreement. My point is that looking back to prehistoric times (or the Roman Empire, for that matter) is looking too far back if the question is about our current cultural bias.

If his point was only that the cultural bias has not remained consistent over the course of human history, then that’s pretty much what I implied as well.

:rolleyes: That generalization doesn’t hold up in my house.
My hair = Thinnish, need to condition the hell out of it to get it past my shoulder blades
My husband’s hair = Limitless and lovely. Naturally curly, shiny, long as hell, and seems to look even better when he doesn’t wash/care for it much!

Yes, pretty much what I was getting at.

I have a sword from the Far East bound with human hair. Apparenly the practice was that women would not cut their hair until they got married; when they married, they cut their hair and the hair was used to bind swords. Thus long hair was a sign of vailability.

So why is Jesus usually depicted with long hair?

Short and long are relative? Contradictions in the bible aren’t exactly uncommon. That passage also seems to imply that the purpose of a woman’s long hair is to “cover” her. I imagine that means to cover her nakedness, eh? But I’m pretty sure around the time of Christ they had that clothing stuff.

So…what’s the point, eh?


Or maybe since we wear clothing now, they can cut their hair. Men don’t need to cover their privite parts but women do?