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.