Long hair tends to be among the Tertiary Sexual Characteristics used to establish a character as female.
Long, luscious hair is regarded as an archetypal feminine trait in quite a few cultures and commonly accompanies other such traits. One of the few exceptions seems to be the Barbarian Longhair, which has been a masculine trait at least since the Bible Times; and its descendants, the hippies and heavy metal rockers. Another, of course, is that some groups of people are largely incapable of growing long hair without much scalp work.
A Super Trope to:
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl
Long dark hair is part of the alpha female package.
- Bald Women
Baldness on a woman indicates that something's different with her.
- Boyish Short Hair
Short hair as part of non-feminine package.
- Braids of Action
Braids are a way for an Action Girl to keep long hair that doesn't get in the way.
- Compressed Hair
Another way to keep long hair out of the way during action.
- Furry Female Mane
Human-like head hair used to indicate femininity in animals.
- Hime Cut
Appropriate (long) hairdo for a classical Japanese lady.
- Letting Her Hair Down
Doing this with long hair increases the girl's attractiveness.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
Long hair on a man as sign of feminine beauty.
- Motherly Side Plait
Hair tied in a loose plait or a braid resting on the shoulder to indicate motherhood.
- Ojou Ringlets
Another appropriate hairdo for classy women in Japanese media.
- Power Hair
In a society where "feminine" is considered to be synonymous with "weak", "passive," or "shallow," powerful and/or intelligent (and usually older) women wear their hair short.
- Rapunzel Hair
Almost Always Female for this very reason.
- Regal Ringlets
Corkscrew curls in medium- to long- hair as an indication of a feminine, high class woman.
- Shaking Her Hair Loose
Showing the long hair after being hidden in a conservative style.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl
Shorthaired girl: tomboy; longhaired girl: girly.
- Tomboyish Ponytail
The middle ground between Braids of Action and Letting Her Hair Down, see above.
- Traumatic Haircut
A forced and/or sudden hair cut is traumatic for women who value their long hair.
- Tuft of Head Fur
For less anthropomorphic animals, fur is used as a counterpart to hair. Hair tufts on females contrast with "bald" males, giving the allusion of hair.
A Wholesome Crossdresser will often, but not always, have long hair either naturally or as a wig. Mostly to help creating a feminine look and if not it will sure give even if they just like their hair that way. Similar for several sister tropes. A male-to-female Gender Bender will often involve Rapid Hair Growth because of this trope.
Glasses and Ponytail Coverup exploits this, since glasses and hair up were typically portrayed as unfeminine.
Contrast Boyish Short Hair.
- Mazinger Z: Most of the female characters wore long hair: Sayaka, Misato, Erika, Hitomi, the Gamia sisters... Sayaka even wore Hair Decorations (a pink headband). Of course, it was considered a girl seemed more feminine like that. In Great Mazinger, Jun—and even a villainess like Marquis Janus—wore also long hair. It was kind of subverted in UFO Robo Grendizer, though: Hikaru—a feminine Yamato Nadeshiko—wore short hair, and her best friend Maria—a Tsundere tomboy—wore long, curly hair.
- In Samurai High School, when Tsukiko decided to enter school as a boy, she considered cutting her hair but her brother said it'd not be necessary. Just holding it in a ponytail would be enough. He was right. Also, he wore a wig to pose as his sister.
- Monaco of Axis Powers Hetalia is said to have grown her hair out in order to imitate a Grand Duchess in her profile. She also adds lots of Hair Decorations for good measure.
- Akane Tendo from Ranma ˝ believed, having longer hair than her sister Kasumi would make her more feminine than her. Then she gets an accidentally Traumatic Hair Cut by Ryoga and Ranma.
- In Heartcatch Pretty Cure, Cure Sunshine's long hair symbolizes Itsuki's desire to become more feminine.
- Since Wandering Son is a manga heavily themed around gender and gender roles this pops up:
- Nitori is a transgender girl who likes baking and is quite feminine. Almost every time she envisions herself living as a girl she has long hair past her shoulders. Her hair is cropped short but she buys a long haired wig, when she starts going out as a girl. She ends up growing her hair into a bob in middle school but won't grow it further due to social acceptance issues with boys and long hair. In high school she cuts it even shorter originally and buys a new wig, this time a bob.
- Takatsuki is a boyish transgender boy. He originally had an androgynous bob style but cut it into a pixie. In middle school Chiba gets Takatsuki to grow his hair back to medium length but he gets it cut when he notices she's just trying to make him feminine. Takatsuki growing his hair out to shoulder length in high school signifies his confusion about whether he wants to be a boy or a girl. The last time we see Takatsuki she has long hair and looks more like a Girly Girl than her usual butch look
- Averted with Maho, Nitori's mom Satomi, Makoto, and Momoko who are all varying degrees of feminine but have bob styles or shorter. Chizuru is a tomboyish girl who likes wearing the boy's uniform to school but has the longest hair in the manga. Popular model and singer Maiko originally has Girlish Pigtails but cuts her hair into a pixie late into the series, subverting this trope.
- Bokura no Hentai is an Otokonoko Genre deconstruction that discusses gender roles and gender so this pops up:
- Hacchi and Yui are two long haired characters who used to have Boyish Short Hair before undergoing a Girliness Upgrade prior to the series. Hacchi was One of the Boys until precocious puberty caused her friends to stop wanting to hang with her. Yui was a tomboy until becoming a Fashion Model.
- Marika is a trans girl. She likes long hair but keeps her hair cropped into a bob haircut due to living as a boy. She cuts her hair shorter partway through the series but grows it out past her shoulders once she begins living as a girl.
- Ryousuke crossdresses to pass as his deceased sister Yui. In elementary he had short hair but currently he has long hair, at least partially due to his melancholy nature and partially because Yui wore Girlish Pigtails. When he stops crossdressing he cuts his hair.
- Satoshi is introduced as an effeminate Wholesome Crossdresser with long hair. He cuts it short when he quits crossdressing due to growth spurts. Over the course of the series he begins to grow it out longer again and even crossdresses a few more times.
- Shun from Kimi to Boku is introduced as a Long-Haired Pretty Boy so androgynous that New Transfer Student Chizuru mistakes him for a girl. He is very much In Touch with His Feminine Side. Subverted later when he gets a haircut due to the summer heat. His friends botched it and cut it shorter than he had wanted. Shun stays with this haircut for the rest of the series.
- The Heroic Legend of Arslan tries to use this for Etoile's gender reveal, by showing her taking her long hair out of her helmet. The problem? Over half of the main cast are long-haired pretty boys (even the tough ones like Daryun), so it doesn't quite get the point across smoothly.
- In the The Sandman story "A Game of You", the trans woman Wanda has long red hair that, according to her friend Barbie, she is rather proud of. When she dies, her family, who never accepted her as a woman, have her buried with short hair as part of their erasure of her female identity.
- In W.I.T.C.H., Cornelia has the longest hair of all the girls, and she does figure skating.
- X-23 is the Ugly Guys Hot Opposite-Sex Clone of Wolverine. One method of emphasizing this is that rather than sharing Logan's distinctive hairstyle, Laura has long black hair down to around or just past her shoulder blades. In fact, her healing factor even recognizes this as its normal length; when she first appeared in All-New X-Men she was still bald from the events of Avengers Arena and whatever the Purifiers were doing to her, and when she first woke up in the Weapon X lab where Cyclops had his base after being rescued she had a very tomboyish pixie cut. It then grew back out to its normal length again over the course of a conversation with Teen!Scott.
- In most fanfics which feature a male character turning female, said character will automatically get long hair. Because hair length is clearly determined by the presence of two "X" chromosomes.
- Played straight with most female human characters from the Disney Animated Canon films, but subverted with Snow White and Tiana, who sport bobbed hair (most likely because the first one was given hairstyles corresponing to the decades the film was released in, and the second to match the time period her film takes place in), as well as Mulan and Rapunzel, who both start out with long hair, but inevitably have their hair cut short.
- Big Hero 6 has a Tomboy and Girly Girl situation. GoGo the Tomboy has short hair, while Honey Lemon the Girly Girl has Rapunzel Hair.
- Averted in the first three Shrek movies, where all the male characters except for Shrek have long hair. Understandable because Shrek is supposed to take place in the middle ages and those were common hairstyles during that period.
- The Disney Channel movie Motorcrossed had a girl cut her hair short to make her look identical to her twin brother.
- The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc has Joan annoyed that the soldiers aren't taking her seriously because she's a woman, so she hacks off her hair in the hope that she'll be considered as one of the men.
- The biopic of the first female U.S. firefighter has said woman having to cut her hair short for health and safety reasons, and she complains that she looks like a boy now.
- In The Brothers Grimm, one of the village children is mistaken for a boy because she had short hair while all the other little girls had flowing long hair. This was part of a ploy to hide the girl from the villain - who was kidnapping the village's daughters. It worked for a while but they eventually caught her.
- In both versions of The Parent Trap, the tomboyish twin has shorter hair than the Girly Girl.
- In Showgirls one of the girls auditioning for the Vegas dance troupe has short hair and is told "I hope you have a good collection of wigs, sweetie". Cristal also has quite short hair (albeit just above the shoulders) but wears a long hairpiece whenever she's performing.
- Inverted in Sucker Punch where Rocket, the only girl with short hair, is The Heart of The Team. Meanwhile Blondie fills the role of The Big Guy, and has the longest hair of the girls.
- In Suffragette, all of the women have long hair, though most wear it braided in a way that keeps it out of the way. The notable exception is the woman who leads the local group, she has curly hair that she wears open and (relatively) short, in a way that wouldn't look out of place in modern times. As she's the only woman who works in a prestigious job (her husband owns a pharmacy, where she not only works as pharmacist but also as a sort of doctor), she's in a way the most unfeminine woman.
- Fantine in Les Misérables is heartbroken to have to sell her hair — her crowning beauty, which falls all the way to her hips and is a beautiful blond color — but she does it without a second thought to earn money for her daughter, Cosette.
- Della, in The Gift of the Magi, has hair falling almost to her knees. She has it cut, obviously, and frets that now she looks like a "Coney Island Chorus Girl".
- In The Rape of the Lock, an assault on Belinda's hair is considered an assault on her person, and her beauty, though her hair is still about 90% intact.
- One short children's book dealt with a girl lamenting over her shortened hair making her look like a boy after a haircut. The trope is Inverted when she meets a construction worker with long blond Compressed Hair who reminds her that hair length doesn't make the gender.
- Inverted on a large scale in A Brother's Price, where short hair is feminine. Children and men grow their hair out long, and men usually keep theirs braided.
- The opening scene in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment has Polly Perks clipping her hair short so she can pass as a boy and enlist in the army. The fact that she then takes the hair with her becomes a bit of a plot point.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, the Nymphs all wear their hair at least waist long.
- Honor Harrington: Grayson as a whole feels this way; it stems from their conservative Christian theology. Notably, when Abigail Hearns, Miss Owens, becomes the first Grayson woman to join the Navy, she refuses to cut her hair, despite the inconvenience of maintaining her waist-length brown hair as a serving officer. Properly raised Grayson women do not cut their hair short, and it seems that you can take the girl off Grayson, but you can't take the Grayson out of the girl.
- In The Bible, St. Paul writes in one of his letters that while men should keep their hair short, women should be encouraged to keep theirs long, saying that "a woman's hair is her glory." (In that culture, long hair was a sign of submissiveness.)
- Averted in The Goblin Emperor; at the court of the elven emperor, all people of importance have long hair, short hair is reserved for low-ranked servants.
- Played with in Hurog; men tend to wear their hair shorter, but traditionalists might wear long hair, as was the fashion of past times.
- Played with in Kat, Incorrigible; Kat cuts her hair short in an attempt to disguise as boy. When that plan fails, she is stuck with the haircut. Her stepmother hates it, deeming it very improper for a girl, her father doesn't mind, and another woman kindly states that short hair is now the latest London fashion and that Kat looks like one of the women in the fashion magazines.
- Jo in Little Women sells her hair to pay for a train ticket. As she's a 19th century Tomboy, her long hair was her "one beauty" (according to her sister Amy) because it added to her femininity.
- Timeline: Female time travelers with short hair must use wigs because people in the 1300s strongly held this view. The only women with short hair had it due to a disgrace, or punish for heresy. Passing as a man by cutting your hair short was also punishable by death at the time.
- In Veronica Mars, the Veronica of flashbacks, when she was a fairly stereotypical high school girl, has long hair; present-day Veronica, having become a Guile Hero by way of Break the Cutie, favors a much shorter, more severe cut.
- An episode of Chicago Hope had a subplot about a boy who had been raised as a girl. When s/he found out, s/he cut off all his long hair to look more like a boy.
- In an episode of Charmed when the sisters cast a spell to turn one of them into a man, her hair becomes significantly shorter (and she gains a goatee) as part of her gender transformation.
- Every single one of the girls in New Directions has long, flowing hair (with the occasional exception of Mercedes when she wears her hair natural) right up until the second season finale when Quinn, having lost her Prom King potential boyfriend, proceeds to fail at villainy as well and gets a cute short haircut from Santana and Brittany to make up for it.
- Morgana, Guinevere and Morgause from Merlin (as well as most of the female guest stars) all have beautiful long, shiny, styled hair.
- Tommy had long hair in the earlier seasons of 3rd Rock from the Sun. During this time, he was Phrase-Catcher for the line, "Cut your hair, you look like a girl!"
- The Worst Witch TV series uses this trope to contrast Miss Drill with the rest of the characters. As the only non-witch member of staff she has short Spiky Hair and is always wearing sports clothes. The rest of the teachers and the girls all have long hair and all wear skirts and dresses.
- The documentary Whose Hair Is It Anyway? examines this trope in relation to the use of hair extensions amongst modern girls. One woman spent around £400 a month getting extensions put in and would be paranoid about leaving the house without them in. Presenter Jamelia admitted to spending 3 hours every morning getting her hair ready before school. They theorise that the desire for really long hair comes from the classic fairytale princess look. Jamelia's travels take her to India where she discovers that long hair is the mark of a woman's beauty. Women sacrifice their hair to the temple as an act of faith, and the temple in turn sells the hair to extensions dealers. The money from that is used to feed the poor. Long hair is also highly valued in Russia, where Jamelia sees fresh hair being cut to make extensions.
- The Survivor-like modeling series America's Next Top Model each season plays with this trope and Boyish Short Hair, as the almost always long-haired models have their hair cut, sometimes a great deal. At least once, this caused a contestant to quit the competition.
- Inverted in Once Upon a Time where the most gentle and feminine of the women Mary Margaret has the shortest hair in the cast - and her Enchanted Forest counterpart Snow White (who was an Action Girl) had long hair. But tomboyish Emma Swan was given beautiful long blonde hair because the creators wanted to convey that she had a "fairy tale princess side to her".
- S Club 7 member Jo O'Meara preferred her hair short from their second album onwards, and presumably for this reason was portrayed as The Lad-ette on their TV show. Averted when Hannah Spearritt also had short hair, as she remained The Ditz.
- Hannah Spearritt later played this straight in Primeval - where she played the Tomboy to Claudia Brown's Girly Girl, and her hair was short. Notably when she grew her hair long again in Season 4, her tomboyish nature had been downplayed.
- Short hair is easier to manage and some wrestlers can't even grow long hair, so extensions and weaves are fairly common, plus they hurt less when pulled on. Jazz has recommended them. Alternatively, a slight reduction in hair length can be a whole gimmick in of itself (smiling Jazzy Bi to brutish giant Alpha Female, "Voodoo Queen" Roxxi Laveaux to hardcore "knockout")
- The WWE "Divas" are generally portrayed with long hair, bordering on Rapunzel Hair. As such they all fall under the category of Girly Bruiser. Some Divas have gone for shorter hairstyles such as Candice Michelle and Ashley Massaro but they usually end up putting extensions in after a couple of months. Alicia Fox changes her hair drastically sometimes with a shorter style but she tends to end up with long hair again. Molly Holly gave herself Power Hair to emphasise her prudish and unfeminine character and even had her head shaved at one point.
- Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. has long blonde hair and is the girliest character in the entire franchise. It especially stands out due when she's compared to Tomboy Princess Daisy, who has shorter hair post-redesign (though it's still medium length).
- Inverted in Kantai Collection with the Nagato sisters. Nagato, who has more masculine traits, is the one with long hair, while the more feminine Mutsu wears it short.
- Princess Voluptua in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has Rapunzel Hair that spills down to the floor.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Whenever a character changes genders, their hair usually gets longer or shorter to complement their new gender. Justified, as it's built into most of the forms they usually transform into, especially the Female Variant #5 form.
- Tedd keeps his hair long because of this trope as it distracts people from his naturally feminine face and gets them to blame his hair for his looking feminine. At least, according to Tedd it does.
- Most Rage Comics faces are drawn without hair and assumed to be male by default. When an author wants to indicate a character as female, they simply add shoulder-length hair (with a hair dec) to the corresponding rage face.
- minus invokes this here — she is mistaken for a boy, and consequently grows her hair (previously a bowl cut) long and wavy, wears an ankle-length dress, adds a bow, pink, to her Idiot Hair, gives herself Fertile Feet, and makes a couple butterflies for good measure.
- Averted in Alice — when Joanne gets a haircut, one of Dot's brothers suddenly realises that she's beautiful.
- Homestuck's minimalist art style doesn't include sexual characteristics, so a lot of its female characters have long hair. Although given that three of the four human girls have short hair (the one exception being Jade's Rapunzel Hair), and all of them are relatively feminine, it's also a partial subversion. Additionally, among the trolls, a few of the boys have long hair, so...
- Anvil, of Grrl Power, is dangerously susceptible to the trope. Word of God says that she keeps her hair very long due to some insecurity about her femininity, which in turn is due to her exceptional height and formidable musculature. However, this may not be a good choice for a superhero — and a brawler at that. She's smart enough to tie her hair up securely if she knows that a fight is coming up, but she doesn't always get the chance — and at least one opponent takes full advantage of this.
- Inverted in Bomango: The long-haired Gogo is an aggressive Cute Bruiser-turned-Amazonian Beauty. While Didi, the one who cut her hair short, is a perky Lipstick Lesbian.
- In Tripping Over You, this is a point of contention between Liam, who likes to grow his hair out, and his father Eli, who thinks it's unmasculine. Fortunately, Eli drops the unpleasant "makes you look like a poof" comments after Liam comes out of the closet.
- Iphigenie from Greek Ninja has very long hair and is one of the most feminine characters.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara, the first prominent female character, is the only girl in the core cast whose hair is long and worn down (if not loose, i.e. braided) at all times. Katara is also the most mothering, nurturing and feminine of the cast — in addition to being the Love Interest. Toph and Azula both have long hair that is almost always up, and Suki has short hair.
- Inverted with Jessica and Emilie in Wheel Squad. Jessica has the longest hair of the duo and is so much of a tomboy that, when she entered a figure skating contest and some of her rivals said she had no chance for not being feminine, her friends weren't able to say she was.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Fluttershy and Rarity. They're the two girliest mane ponies, and they have long manes, Fluttershy's actually is long enough that part of it trails on the ground behind her. As a rule, even in background ponies, the mares have the longer manes.
- Steven Universe:
- This is inverted with Amethyst and Pearl. Amethyst has ankle-length hair, but she's by far the most crude, hedonistic and slovenly of the Gems, while Pearl's hair just reaches her chin, and she's prim and proper and the most conventionally feminine.
- Played straight instead with Sapphire, the girly-girl to Ruby's tomboy. Her long hair contrasts with Ruby's Boyish Short Hair.
- In Winx Club, Bloom, Stella, and Flora have the long hair and are quite feminine.
- Nuns entering a convent would cut their hair off as a sign of them giving up their femininity to serve God.
- The ultimate expression of this trope: The Pioneer plaque, meant to show aliens what humans look like, depicts a man with short hair and a woman with long hair.
- David Reimer is notable for having originally born male and named Bruce at birth, having his penis accidentally destroyed during circumcision, and consequently being raised as a girl. He had genital reconstruction surgery performed on him to remove his testes, and was renamed as Brenda in an attempt to simultaneously give Dr. Money, the psychologist who oversaw his case a subject for an experiment concerning gender identity, research material, and give Bruce a chance at having a happy life as a female rather than live his life as a male with a mutilated penis. The fact that he bore the name David at the time of his suicide in 2004 shows that this went horribly wrong. Contrary to Dr. Money's claims that the reassignment was successful, David did not identify as female since his preteen years and began living as male when he was 15. The case was so famous that it was the subject of a documentary. In a reenactment of David's sessions with Dr. Money, they discuss the differences between males and females. At this time, David was still going by Brenda and still thought of himself as a girl.
Dr. Money: Brenda, how can you tell that I'm a boy and you're a girl?
Brenda: Because I have long hair and you have short hair.
- Inverted by the Masai tribes of Africa. The Masai believe themselves to be related to lions, so men wear their hair long and wild to look like a lion's mane while the women wear their hair clipped short.
- There are some religious groups (for example, Pentecostal Christians) where girls and women are discouraged, or even forbidden from, cutting their hair because of this trope. The idea is that men and women are divinely ordained to look, dress, and behave a certain way.
- During much of history, in the Western world and elsewhere, long hair on women was ubiquitous to the point of being, to a greater or lesser extent, virtually an Enforced Trope (not that there weren't exceptions but some form of long hair was pretty much the feminine norm). Ironically, in many cultures and times, women, at least adult or married women, were expected to put their hair up or even cover it for reasons of modesty.note Examples include the wimples, veils and hoods that are seen in many paintings of Medieval and early Renaissance women, the Victorian expectation that a girl would start wearing her hair up around the time when she reached marriagable age, and the Muslim hijab, which many women still practice today.
- In the 1920s, this trope received a major subversion in mainstream fashion from which it didn't fully recover for decades. As part of the radical new look of that decade, bobbed hair, often worn jaw-length or shorter, became all the rage. At first very daring, it quickly became so popular that within a few years, outside certain cultures and demographics, most women had bobbed hair. Long hair continued to be worn and appreciated by somenote but the average woman of that time had short hair (though still typically longer than most men). In the 1930s, fashionable hairstyles got longer, but were still basically short- to medium-length, heavily styled bobs. Moderately long hair experienced something of a revival in the 1940s, though it tended to be styled in a way that reduced the overall length of the hairstyle; by the time of Christian Dior's New Look, long hair was common enough that Dior's models were routinely being photographed with it in a bun. However, shorter styles were back for the 1950s, even among teenage girls, often tightly curled and with short bangs. It took until well into the 1960s for really long hair to become a feminine ideal again.