Let’s Get Hairy: Hair Length on Heroes and Heroines

Anyone who has read a romance, even one of the darker ones, has probably noticed a certain trend: long hair. The heroines have cascades of hair reaching their lower backs and beyond, a silky waterfall with which to tickle and curtain their lovers in the bedroom.

I’m reading a sci-fi romance by a very popular best seller now — an author whose work I like and respect — and the heroine has hair just about down to her ankles. A powerful visual image? Yes. Easy for the reader to visualize during action scenes? Not so much. Maybe I’m too practical minded when it comes to extremes like this.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I grew my hair out for many years to donate (it finally went to Wigs for Kids), and I managed just a foot of extra hair. Let me tell you, I did feel very sexy with it at times. I also cursed it daily as I tried to keep the knots out. Hair past a certain length gets blown in your face, pinned beneath your shoulders or wrapped around your neck in bed, and can generally be a nuisance. How can a heroine with ankle-length hair fight off men using martial arts, run through dense forests, or swim for her life, let alone roll around in bed with the hero without careful choreography?  Maybe it’s just me. My only real point here is I think there should be some careful consideration of the character’s background, role, and actions before the author gives her such a striking attribute.

And what about the heroes? Long locks are not confined to the fairer sex. Whether we’re talking about a soldier who wears his hair longer than regulation length or hot Alphas with ponytails, the long-haired hero is in. Oh, and they always have their hair held back by a leather thong. That’s a must

Personally, I like variety. I like to visualize all sorts of yummy heroes with different physiques, styles, etc. All authors have a preference for a certain type, and there’s nothing wrong with writing about what you like. It’s more a question of balance.

Laurell K. Hamilton obviously likes long hair on her male characters, Nathaniel’s being the longest. Since most of her books’ men have long hair, I was kind of happy when Richard shaved his head despite the motivation behind it. J. R. Ward has displayed variety among her vampires with Z’s shaved head vs. Phury’s beautiful tresses, although Wrath keeps growing out his hair longer to please his shellan. Then again, Wrath is acting as king now, so it makes sense he might wear it longer than he did when he was always fighting in the field.

Mind you, I thoroughly enjoy the works of the authors mentioned above, so this should in no way be construed as criticism. I simply find it interesting how different writers describe their characters’ physical appearance. The trend right now definitely seems to be slanted to long hair. Maybe the next hot thing will be balding men, women with shaved heads, or mohawks on both sexes. It seems our fictional worlds are subject to the same fashion changes in clothing and appearance as our real one.

5 responses to “Let’s Get Hairy: Hair Length on Heroes and Heroines

  1. That’s interesting, hair length. It says a lot for taste, I think, even sometimes over practicality, like you said with the heroine with the ankle-length hair. Visually stunning, yes, but it seems like something horribly inconvenient. I personally love androgyny, and with it, heroines with short boy-cuts, shaved heads (I found Val in Holly Black’s Valient a pretty awesome character, especially in the scene where she shaved her head), and long, girl-pretty hair on the heroes. It shows, too, in my writing and the characters. I like the correlation between the fictional world and the real one. It is a lot like the fashion trends you see nowadays–they always change. Long hair now, crew-cuts later. Who knows?

  2. Interesting point, blueghoul. Androgyny offers a certain freedom, breaking out of type and category.

  3. I’ve always had a thing for long hair on men. Long blond hair especially. One of my villains (Pietas), has looooong silver blond hair, which he wears in a variety of styles, and likes to pull back with silver & turquoise pins. Leather is too mundane for him. In the real world, my husband says his hair color is clear. ^_^ He shaves his head, and I love that look on him. I do like a hero with a ponytail or a queue. It’s an attribute that allows readers to enjoy the sensuality of the character. The feel of it beneath his lover’s hands, the way it hugs his head and neck when it’s wet… Oh yeah. Long is definitely better. Long and full of riotous curls? Even better.

  4. Sold! Kayelle, you paint a very delicious picture of the long-haired male. I’m coming around. I like the silver and turquoise pins concept – very original. Like I said, the leather bit is getting a bit overused, although it’s only a minor detail in the scheme of things. Nice to read something different.

  5. Pingback: Most Popular Posts of 2012 | Allie Ritch, author

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