Miley Cyrus is "secretly" growing her hair. Of course, that's "secret" because she announced it on national television, and also because actively growing hair is rarely visible to the naked eye. "I'm secretly tugging on it every night and taking Viviscal," she said on Fashion Police, "I'm not going to lie."
The irony is Miley's vaguely iconic long hair (one of the first images in a Google search for the term "long hair") was never "real" in the first place. "I [had] like 350 extensions in my hair. That was not real. None of it was ever real. None of it was ever growing out of my head," she told Harper's Bazaar. When Miley was criticized for the edgy pixie, quickly followed by an even edgier buzz cut, Miley said she "never felt more me in my entire life," which makes sense since none of the hair was really her in the first place.
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 13, 2012
Miley cutting off her hair in order to "feel like me" seems like a beautiful act of self-actualization... in theory. But to actually view Miley's haircut as some radical alteration isn't even logical in the first place. Think of all the hair transformations we see in Hollywood. There are wigs and weaves and extensions on every single runway. Hair does not naturally get short and then long again at the rate we see it in Hollywood. What we're seeing, on Miley and hundreds of others, is not real.
And yet, strangely, we ignored the presence of "fake" hair despite its ubiquitousness. But not for long. The more we've seen long hairstyles almost immediately preceded by pixie cuts, it's become too hard to pretend the suddenly wavy locks are real. Now we know.
This shift was best exemplified with Beyonce's Instagram-ed "haircut," which sent a death rattle through the Twitter-sphere. Soon, the theorization began. The pixie cut was a wig, some whispered, spotting a suspicious stand in Bey's dressing room. The wavy, honey-colored locks were just part of a weave the whole time, claimed others. One small corner of the Internet confidently announced that the pixie cut AND wavy, honey-colored locks were both just different sets of extensions. Beyonce is really just bald, they said.
None of that speculation arose when Miley wielded her pair of scissors. No one shrugged and said, "Oh well, she can just get extensions."
Beyonce's stylist told E! that the hair was all Bey (and it took four hours to dye it), but by the time Miss Carter-Knowles emerged with a near-shoulder-length bob, the theories dissipated on their own. Was the new 'do extensions, a wig, a weave? Did it really matter? It was all too fast to possibly pretend there was even a centimeter of "real" hair involved in the rapid growth.
When Beyonce debuted her hair, many were quick to draw the comparison to Miley's chop job, especially considering the similar coloring of both pixie cuts. And both women received similar reactions of devastation when they "chopped it all off," yet no one pointed out that Miley's 14-something inches had been synthetic in the first place.
The super long hair of Miley's golden days was definitively fake. The younger star is on the record declaring it so, and yet the extensions were never part of the conversation when she "cut" it. Of course, Miley had "real" shoulder-length hair that also got chopped off pre-pixie. But none of the "So what? She'll just wear a weave!" mentality that emerged with Beyonce's hair even played a role in Miley's make-over. It's illogical to care more about one star's allegedly fake hair being removed than another's. At the end of the day, really anyone can just wear a weave, wig, or extensions.
So, what is the value of long hair? The value of "real" hair? We seem to have no issue acknowledging that some things are fake -- magazine covers are Photoshopped, hot red carpet bodies are molded by Spanx and no one has rocked their natural hair color probably since the late '80s. Yet, the "real" length of hair seems to be so important as a signifier of youth and beauty, specifically when it comes to white women (with whom the word "weave" is less quickly associated).
It would be nice to conclude with a positive adage, something like "It's what's on the inside that counts." But really, that would veer us into the realm of aesthetic philosophy -- and while I would happily begin a discussion regarding the confining nature of feminine gender roles, I'd be late for my hair appointment. I promise not to get it cut too short.