The career-defining haircut
With her comeback in the new movie "Black Swan", Winona Ryder's career has come under the microscope. How she went from superstar to scandal-ridden Hollywood outsider is obvious: shoplifting. But what about her other transition from oddball actress to leading lady? Another easy answer: a haircut.
It may be surface outlook on a three-decade career, but that's Hollywood. A quirky teenage hero in "Heathers" and "Mermaids", Ryder came of age in 1994 with roles in "The Age of Innocence" and "Reality Bites". Around the same time she chopped off her hair. When she stepped out in her newly shorn 'do at the Golden Globes in 1994, she sent a message that she was all grown up, nabbing an award that night as further proof.
She wasn't the first of course. There was Mia Farrow in 1967 and Audrey Hepburn. But in the '90s, she brought their pioneering moments back.
For celebrities, it adds credence to their performances, gravity to their personality. It says they're ready to be taken seriously. And it's usually accompanied by a big movie premiere or better yet, awards season. Michelle Williams did it during "Brokeback Mountain's" Oscar push; Kristen Dunst did it in conjunction with her serious turn in "Mona Lisa Smile". And of late, Emma Watson did it for the premiere of the last "Harry Potter" movie. It got her praise from the high-end style critics, advancing her image beyond child star to fashion muse.
Every woman who's ever cut her hair, or wanted to, understands the message implicitly. It's a Joan of Arc hair moment, when the things you were taught about beauty take a backseat to the way you want to feel. And g-----it you want to be free…of blow-dryers. In Hollywood, cutting your hair comes with a bigger risk.
Men like long hair, based on the pages of Maxim to GQ. When a starlet cuts hers, she's sacrificing the male-driven attention for a higher authority: women. If she can pull it off, and Winona did better than most, she earns a kind of respect that translates to the pages of Vogue and sometimes, awards voters. Call it the Rapunzel formula. Without long hair, a prince can't be reached the old-fashioned way. So a fairly tale herione has to rely on her talents instead. In Hollywood, the land of looks and loglines, talent is implied with short hair.
Despite reading like a middle finger to the industry's standards of beauty, it's a formula that's tried and true for young duckling starlets hoping to emerge as swans on the red carpet. And it works, so well in fact, that some other starlets should get the memo. Imagine if Megan Fox, Jessica Alba or Kim Kardashian cut their hair. No doubt, it'd elevate their image as much as any decent performance. Sure it's just a cut; it doesn't change the wearer's talent or abilities. Or does it?
Have a look at 10 actresses who cropped their hair and changed their image.
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