Having cut my hair, I was prepared for the physical changes (hair completely drying in 45 minutes instead of 5 hours, no need for using and losing ponytail ties, headbands, and bobby pins, using less shampoo and conditioner, and exposing my neck) but I wasn't prepared for the psychological changes (how men and women respond differently to drastically short hair, how long hair can define "feminine beauty," and the amount (or lack of) of masculine attention.)
So I decided to do a social experiment: using the most shallow online dating medium to find out if men are more attracted to women with short or long hair.
The medium of choice of course was Tinder, because for an app that was an upgraded version of Hot or Not, where users literally swipe left if they like your pictures and swipe right if they don't. If there is mutually photographic attraction then a line of communication is open within the app and the next steps depends on the users. Men tend to view it as a hookup site (can you really blame them?) and women may view it as more.
So I scoured for pictures of my new super short do by begging co-workers and friends to take pictures of me because I refuse to do selfies, started up the Tinder account again, and let the experiment run for 3 weeks.
Based on an N of 1, as a 30 year old Asian American woman I received way way WAY more "matches" on Tinder with my long hair profile which was active in winter of 2014 for about 3 weeks. With the short hair profile for 3 weeks in early summer of 2014, I got 20-30 percent of "matches" compared with long hair profile!!!! It was astounding considering:
- The blurb about me was pretty much the same and stated that I'm based in a certain city and am not interested in smokers, drug users, and random hookups.
- My criteria for saying yes hasn't become more stringent.
Upon being matched, I do not take initiative to start communication (at least not initially) and the number of people who reached out to long hair me was at least 5 times more than those who reached out to short hair me but keep in mind I was "matched" with fewer people in the first place. When engaging in conversation to ask about hair length preference, most males acknowledge that they like longer hair on me and on women in general. Even with 3 short hair photos and 1 long hair photo the men still asked me if I have long or short hair (if I have long hair then why would my profile mainly feature me with short hair!?).
Now one may hypothesize that men who say yes and initiate conversation with women with short hair may be more discerning and truly "like" me for who I am but I received similar ratios of sexual propositions and digital booty calls.
Is this earth-shattering ground-breaking "research'? No, absolutely not but there is a difference between knowing that men prefer women (socially because of all the years of Pantene brainwashing and long hair expectations, biologically because long hair can signify reproductive years since hair thins with age and most older women have short hair) with long hair and understanding it because it can be disconcerting to have people choosing to associate (or not) with you or other presumptions based on hair! To be viewed so differently because of a cut has really taught me that appearances matter very much and sends a signal to other. On one hand I feel almost naked without my hair to bolster me as a woman but on the other hand it is totally freeing to be outside that box.
So what does my haircut say about me? That I can be unconventional and unbound by standards of "feminine beauty", perhaps "brave" for chopping it all off (as commented by several females), or I am just very lazy and want my wet hair to dry lot faster!
Disclaimer: Long hair profile may also be influenced by testing time period where people may be more Tinder happy during colder less active times of winter vs. the nicer more active times of early summer.