Does not the very nature of things teach you that[...]if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.
Long hair tends to be among the Tertiary Sexual Characteristics used to establish a character as female.
Long, luscious hair is almost universally regarded as an archetypal feminine trait and commonly accompanies other such traits. The only exception seems to be the Badass Long Hair, which has been a masculine trait at least since the Bible Times. Nowadays, the two tropes are commonly merged to produce a Lady of War. Or a Badass Bishonen.
This is a universal Super-Trope that factors into many, many others. Following list is far from complete:
- Bald Women
Baldness on a woman indicates that something's wrong with her.
- Bob Haircut and Pixie cut
The shortest haircuts still "appropriate" for women lead to gender confusion on men.
- Braids of Action
Braids are a way for an Action Girl to keep long hair that doesn't get in the way.
- Butch Lesbian
Short hair as part of non-feminine package.
- Compressed Hair
Another way to keep long hair out of the way during action.
- Furry Female Mane
Human-like head hair used to indicate femininity in animals.
- Hime Cut
Appropriate (long) hairdo for a classical Japanese lady.
- Letting Her Hair Down
Doing this with long hair increases the girl's attractiveness.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
Long hair on a man as sign of feminine beauty.
- Princess Curls
Another appropriate hairdo for classy women in Japanese media.
- Rapunzel Hair
Almost Always Female for this very reason.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo
Long dark hair is part of the alpha female package.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl
Shorthaired girl: tomboy; longhaired girl: girly.
- Tomboyish Ponytail
The middle ground between Braids of Action and Letting Her Hair Down, see above.
- Tomboyish Sidetails
Short hair and two tail on each side indicates tomboyism.
- Traumatic Haircut
See the first entry in the Real Life folder.
A Wholesome Crossdresser will often, but not always, have long hair either naturally or as a wig. Mostly to help creating a feminine look and if not it will sure give even if they just like their hair that way. Similar for several sister tropes.
Contrast Boyish Short Hair.
Anime and Manga
- Mazinger Z: Most of the female characters wore long hair: Sayaka, Misato, Erika, Hitomi, the Gamia sisters... Sayaka even wore Hair Decorations (a pink headband). Of course, it was considered a girl seemed more feminine like that. In Great Mazinger, Jun—and even a villainess like Marquis Janus—wore also long hair. It was kind of subverted in UFO Robo Grendizer, though: Hikaru—a feminine Yamato Nadeshiko—wore short hair, and her best friend Maria—a Tsundere tomboy—wore long, curly hair.
- In Samurai High School, when Tsukiko decided to enter school as a boy, she considered cutting her hair but her brother said it'd not be necessary. Just holding it in a ponytail would be enough. He was right. Also, he wore a wig to pose as his sister.
- In the The Sandman story "A Game of You", the transwoman Wanda has long red hair that, according to her friend Barbie, she is rather proud of. When she dies, her family, who never accepted her as a woman, have her buried with short hair as part of their erasure of her female identity.
- In most fanfics which feature a male character turning female, said character will automatically get long hair. Because hair length is clearly determined by the presence of two "X" chromosomes.
- The Disney Channel movie Motorcrossed had a girl cut her hair short to make her look identical to her twin brother.
- The Milla Jovovich version of Joan of Arc has Joan annoyed that the soldiers aren't taking her seriously because she's a woman, so she hacks off her hair in the hope that she'll be considered as one of the men.
- The biopic of the first female U.S. firefighter has said woman having to cut her hair short for health and safety reasons, and she complains that she looks like a boy now.
- In The Brothers Grimm, one of the village children is mistaken for a boy because she had short hair while all the other little girls had flowing long hair.
- Fantine in Les Misérables is heartbroken to have to sell her hair — her crowning beauty, which falls all the way to her hips and is a beautiful blond color — but she does it without a second thought to earn money for her daughter, Cosette.
- Della, in The Gift of the Magi, has hair falling almost to her knees. She has it cut, obviously, and frets that now she looks like a "Coney Island Chorus Girl".
- In The Rape of the Lock, an assault on Belinda's hair is considered an assault on her person, and her beauty, though her hair is still about 90% intact.
- One short children's book (the name escapes this troper) dealt with a girl lamenting over her shortened hair making her look like a boy after a haircut. The trope is Inverted when she meets a contruction worker with long blond Compressed Hair who reminds her that hair length doesn't make the gender.
- In Veronica Mars, the Veronica of flashbacks, when she was a fairly stereotypical high school girl, has long hair; present-day Veronica, having become a Guile Hero by way of Break the Cutie, favors a much shorter, more severe cut.
- An episode of Chicago Hope had a subplot about a boy who had been raised as a girl. When s/he found out, s/he cut off all his long hair to look more like a boy.
- In an episode of Charmed when the sisters cast a spell to turn one of them into a man, her hair becomes significantly shorter (and she gains a goatee) as part of her gender transformation.
- Every single one of the girls in New Directions has long, flowing hair (with the occasional exception of Mercedes when she wears her hair natural) right up until the second season finale when Quinn, having lost her Prom King potential boyfriend, proceeds to fail at villainy as well and gets a cute short haircut from Santana and Brittany to make up for it.
- Morgana, Guinevere and Morgause from Merlin (as well as most of the female guest stars) all have beautiful long, shiny, styled hair.
- Princess Voluptua in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob has Rapunzel Hair that spills down to the floor.
- In El Goonish Shive, whenever a character changes genders, their hair usually gets longer or shorter to complement their new gender. Justified, as it's built into most of the forms they usually transform into, especially the Female Variant #5 form.
- Most Rage Comics faces are drawn without hair and assumed to be male by default. When an author wants to indicate a character as female, they simply add shoulder-length hair (with a Hair Decorations) to the corresponding rage face.
- Minus invokes this here—she is mistaken for a boy, and consequently grows her hair (previously a bowl cut) long and wavy, wears an ankle-length dress, adds a bow, pink, to her Idiot Hair, gives herself Fertile Feet, and makes a couple butterflies for good measure.
- Iphigenie from Greek Ninja has very long hair and is one of the mos feminine characters.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Katara, the first prominent female character, is the only girl in the core cast whose hair is long and worn down (if not loose, i.e. braided) at all times. Katara is also the most mothering, nurturing and feminine of the cast — in addition to being the Love Interest. Toph and Azula both have long hair that is almost always up, and Suki has short hair.
- Played straight with most female human characters from the Disney Animated Canon films, but subverted with Snow White, Cinderella, and Tiana, who all sport bobbed hair (most likely because the first two were both given hairstyles corresponing to the decades their respective films were released in, and the third to match the time period her film takes place in), as well as Mulan and Rapunzel, who both start out with long hair, but inevitably have their hair cut short.
- Inverted with Jessica and Emilie in Wheel Squad. Jessica has the longest hair of the duo and is so much of a tomboy that, when she entered a figure skating contest and some of her rivals said she had no chance for not being feminine, her friends weren't able to say she was.
- The ultimate expression of this trope: The Pioneer plaque, meant to show aliens what humans look like, depicts a man with short hair and a woman with long hair.
- Nuns entering a convent would cut their hair off as a sign of them giving up their femininity to serve God.
- David Reimer is notable for having originally been assigned as male and named Bruce at birth, having his penis accidentally destroyed during circumcision, and consequently being raised as a girl, having genital reconstruction surgery performed on him to remove his testes, and renamed as Brenda in an attempt to simultaneously give Dr. Money, the psychologist who oversaw his case a subject for an experiment concerning gender identity and give David?Bruce? a chance at having a happy life as a female rather than live his life as a male with a mutilated penis. The fact that he bore the name David at the time of his suicide in 2004 shows that this went horribly wrong. Contrary to Dr. Money's claims that the reassignment was successful, David did not identify as a girl since his preteen years and began living as male when he was 15. The case was so famous that it was the subject of a documentary. In a reenactment of David's sessions with Dr. Money, they discuss the differences between males and females. At this time, David was still going by Brenda and still thought of xirself as a girl.
Dr. Money: Brenda, how can you tell that I'm a boy and you're a girl?
- Count how many people with longer hair have been beaten up at school or called a "girl".
- Lions invert this.