We can rail against society's limiting beauty standards — plump lips! smooth skin! white teeth! high cheek bones! — all we want. But actually saying "fuck it" to the expectations, rejecting the standards and going our own way isn't quite as easy.
That's why we have Kristen Stewart, who gives so few fucks that we can't help but be inspired. The actress told Marie Claire in the August issue that in fact, ditching her "sexy" look actually had an unexpectedly positive result:
"My hair was such a crutch. I looked quote unquote 'sexy' no matter what. I could hide behind it. As soon as I didn't have all that hair, I had to let my face hang out. I felt more confident than I had in a really long time. And it felt really good. Maybe to most people long hair is prettier. But then what? Is your main goal in life to be desired? That is boring as fuck."
While it may initially feel good to wield power by fitting an expected mold, it's actually sexier and ultimately more powerful to ditch the beauty standard than to perfectly fit it.
Rejecting the "sexy" standard: Stewart is right — to many people, long hair is prettier. It may be rooted in evolutionary psychology — studies have surmised that because of its high cost to maintain, well-maintained long hair signals "good phenotypic and genetic quality." It may also be rooted in years and years of movie stars and models showing off long, flowing locks.
That cultural influence is precisely the one captured in a series of illustrations by online artist Roosa Karlsson, aka the artist behind Nameless Doll, that depict the Disney princesses with short hair. "There are so many different kinds of hair styles, and while they are all beautiful, mainstream media tends to be very... one-sided," Karlsson told Mic previously. "Long hair is hailed wherever you go, especially in Disney's princess movies."
Cutting off Princess Jasmine's hair — or Stewart cutting off hers — is not only a reminder that short hair can be sexy. It underscores that looking beautiful according to others (yes, particularly men) isn't really the point.
"There was a glimmer of confusion in the eyes of [my short hair] critics," wrote college student Aryanna Prasad in the Huffington Post. "Their inability to understand why I would want to cut my hair, which they felt made me more attractive, was something I didn't understand."
But looking attractive according to someone else's standards (and it's always someone's standards, given beauty's arbitrary defining lines) doesn't have to be among our life goals. As Stewart put it, "That is boring as fuck."