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Does Short Hair Make You Look Fatter? | It Doesn’t Matter!

If you have ever struggled with body acceptance, you no doubt have wondered what role your hair plays. Despite the long-standing idea that short hair makes you look fatter, the truth is much more complicated.

Does Short Hair Make You Look Fatter?

While it is true that there are hairstyles that are more flattering than others, the reality is that flattering is a subjective term with a long history.

While longer hair can and sometimes does elongate the face (making it look slimmer), it would be too simplistic to say that short hair makes you look fatter. 

There is a strong relationship between confidence and hair. Everyone knows the feeling of coming home from the salon with a botched haircut. It can make you want to slither under the covers and not show your face for weeks.

It’s not just anecdotal; some studies prove a connection between how we feel about ourselves and our hair. Hair is a feature of our identity. It also plays a significant role in how much we like ourselves.  It’s no wonder then that hair plays into body image as well.

When you are worried about your weight, you can’t help but pick apart every feature of your body. You’re constantly scanning yourself and others to see if you’re too big or too ungainly. You wonder if your hair is helping or hurting your desire to look different.

The reality is that hair is as connected to subjective conceptions of beauty as weight is. These beauty standards are attached to real social stigma or consequences. Yet when we dig deep, we learn that those beauty standards cause more harm than good.

Fatphobia and Your Hair

Fatphobia is the stigma, bias, or fear of being fat or heavyset in our society. Fatphobia can be internal, leading to anorexia and bulimia, or it can be interpersonal, leading to an irrational fear of being friends with fat people.

We may think that it has always been ideal to be thin. How else could you explain how pervasive the idea is in our culture? The truth is not so simple. We love the video above because Jessica does away with cultural norms and still feels confident. We say you do you, girl!

Before doctors worried about weight as a medical sign of trouble, being thin was only an aesthetic goal. That means that the idea that to be healthy, you can’t be fat is a relatively new attitude.

There is evidence to support the claim that fatphobia is also rooted in racism, going as far back as the trans-Atlantic slave trade. To perpetuate the justification that African slaves were subhuman, the stereotype that they were prone to “excess” spread like wildfire.

Suddenly, having “excess” of anything on your body became taboo. If you aren’t convinced yet, maybe this will change your mind: in communities and civilizations as far back as medieval times and before, being fat was a sign of high status.

It meant that you were rich enough to weather famines. It was an aesthetic goal for many, and people associated it with good health. Sound familiar?

Furthermore, a growing body of research is beginning to turn the science of obesity away from a simplistic ‘if-you’re-obese-or-overweight-it’s-your-fault-for-not-exercising’ into a much more nuanced investigation of hormone regulation.

The reason context about fatphobia is so important when you’re searching for a flattering hairstyle is because what flatters your body and face is so dependent on you and your tastes! 

Someone with a rounder face may find that having a shorter cropped haircut brings out their stunning cheekbones, and they like that look better than if their hair fell to their shoulders. It’s all up to you.

What Matters in a Hairstyle

A bunch of woman and face types in an illustration image for a piece titled does short hair make you look fatter

First Vector Trend/Shutterstock

To find the most flattering hairstyle, you should take into account your face shape and your hair texture. But even more importantly, focus on how healthy your hair is.

You can determine your face shape by looking at yourself in the mirror. The traditionally “flattering” hairstyle for a rounder face is longer, layered hair to lengthen the look. However, just because you struggle with your weight does not mean you have a round face shape.

You may have an oval or a square shape. Each of these face shapes has a different, more traditionally “flattering” hairstyle.

If you go to a quality salon, your hairstylist will be able to tell you what kind of face shape you have and work with you to determine a hairstyle that you both believe will flatter you. Face shape is not the only determination of how flattering, healthy, or successful a hairstyle is.

You also should consider your hair maintenance and day-to-day routine. If you are someone who is quite active and spends a lot of time outdoors, you have a different hair care routine than someone who works in an office.

While hair maintenance depends on your routine and your hair texture, the general rule of thumb is that your hair should be clean and moisturized. Some people may need to moisturize their hair more frequently than others. Talk to your hairstylist to determine what kind of hair care routine works for you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still wondering what hairstyle you should go with? Here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions that can help you decide.

What Are the Benefits of Short Hair?

Despite the traditional idea that short hair is unflattering for overweight people, there are a lot of aesthetic and upkeep benefits of short hair. Benefits can include:

  • Less hair to tangle up with hair accessories
  • More cost-effective (stretching out a shampoo and other hair products used over time)
  • Easier maintenance

What Are the Benefits of Long Hair?

Long hair also comes with its benefits! People with long hair can enjoy:

  • More varied hairstyles
  • Protection from the cold
  • Less money on haircuts

Long hair also has the benefit of fitting most people’s face shapes, though the layers and shape of the long hair cut are dependent on the face shape.

Does Your Hair Affect Your Weight?

If you’re truly counting every pound on your body, you may think that long hair makes you weigh more. The truth is that your hair, even when it’s wet, won’t contribute to your overall weight more than about an ounce.

Does Long Hair Drain Nutrients From the Body?

The idea that long hair drains nutrients from the body is a misconception. Some people think that long hair drains key nutrients that you need around the rest of your body. Just because you have long hair does not mean that you are healthier or unhealthier than someone with shorter hair.

Do Obese People Have Thinner Hair?

There is some evidence that supports that obese people can become predisposed to thinner hair. If your hair is thinning and you are struggling to determine the best hairstyle for you, the best course of action is to go to a high-quality hair salon. Though it may feel embarrassing, their hairstylists are empathetic and professional and can help you find the best haircut for you.

So What Does Your Hair Length Have to Do with Weight?

If you are a heavier-set person, you may be tempted to conclude that shorter hair is bad. The reality is that what looks good on you and what is rooted in fatphobia are two completely separate questions. 

If you love short hair but are afraid it will make your face look bigger, a quality hairstylist will be able to layer your hair in such a way that it elongates your face. Or, take the self-love plunge!

Even if a shorter hairstyle accentuates your face, that should not impact the way you are treated or how deserving of a human being you are. Understandably, it can be hard to separate our conceptions of beauty from our preconceptions of weight.

The hard work is to love and accept yourself for who you are, even if you are working towards a target weight. Soon enough, you’ll find that love and acceptance have reached your hair. We say if you want to cut your hair short, you do you girl!