Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

August 8, 2012

Short Hair for Big Girls (now with more math!)

Filed under: Hair — Miss Plumcake @ 8:35 am

I’m not that great at hair.

I mean I’m not terrible, but while I’m usually about to break down any other aspect of a person’s style success and explain mathematically why it works (or doesn’t) when it comes to hair I’m sort of like “well, do this because it’ll probably look nice and if not, it’s only hair: It’ll grow.”

It’s been five years since I defied all received Fat Girl Wisdom and went for an Eton crop/pixie cut and I still count it as the best thing to have come out of my brief engagement to the French Chef. Considering he gave me a Birkin and a townhouse in Lyon (which I couldn’t keep for some tangled Franco-American reason) that’s saying something.

I cropped my hair in preparation to meet his beloved and completely intimidating widowed mother. La Veuve Witchypoo was not enthused at the prospect of her only child, the light of his generation and only scion of a old and storied family, marrying an American, and not just an American, but a Protestant, and not just an American Protestant, but a FAT American Protestant. AND I had big teeth. I never quite figured out why the big teeth bothered her, but the rest I knew counted against me. So in the interest of hedging my bets, I went to my stylist and had her chop away, leaving nothing but a chic cap of hair with little kiss curls framing my face.

It worked, thank goodness, and I vaguely knew it had something to do with my enormous frog eyes and big lips, but I couldn’t explain why it worked exactly.

Half a decade later I have  my answer, thanks to Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style.

According to John Frieda, hairdresser to the stars, a measurement of 5.5cm or less from the base of the ear to the bottom of the chin is important, this is because it makes you look less jaw heavy (a more ‘masculine’ trait).  So in general, shorter face shapes (square and round) find it easier to carry off shorter hair.”

Math! Now we’re talkin’. That makes so much sense! It explains why it works on me, and looks so cute on Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin (even with Those Ears) both of whom have round/heart shape faces but on Pink it’s a little Early Eddie Izzard.

Lamport continues by pointing out stuff I kind of already knew: big eyes, big lips, great cheekbones all help. Let me go one further: it has to suit your personality. I already look like Betty Boop with a glandular issue, so her haircut was a no brainer for me, but imagine the divine Helena Bonham Carter with a chic little crop. Her face would be perfect for it, but her personality is a complete mismatch.

What do you think about cropped hair on big girls? Do you have any follicular wisdom that has helped you along the way to The Perfect Cut? Put it in the comment!





  1. Thanks so much for the mention and I’m so glad that you can rock the crop! Wish I could, but I’m sadly more Eddie than Audrey!

    Comment by Imogen Lamport — August 8, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  2. I chopped my hair off around Thanksgiving, and am so glad I did it. Although I have a face which is slightly on the narrow side of a perfect oval, I thought it worked rather well on me, and other reviews were positive. I think the key to my success was a longish sideswept bang, which made my face look less long, and drew the attention to my cheekbones (if you imagine the same sort of bang on Pink up there, it improves it considerably).

    I did struggle with some personality mismatch, though, so it’s been growing back, but that’s also been fun, because it has allowed me to really see which lengths suit me best. The most flattering look seems to have been a chin length bob; sadly, I prefer to have the option of pulling my hair back, so I’m continuing a little past that point.

    In short: chopping one’s hair off just to see what happens? Highly recommend. Would chop again.

    Comment by SarahDances — August 8, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  3. Loved this post! I chopped my hair over the last several years, a few inches at a time until now–well suffice it to say, it’s SHORT. I love it, not having to screw with it, comb and go. It helps that I have pin straight hair too.

    Comment by BossNurse — August 8, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  4. I have been rocking a pink-streaked pixie cut for a year or so now and I love it. I’m a round-faced fattie, with big lips and glasses. The shorter my hair’s gotten, the more I love it.

    Comment by ZaftigWendy — August 8, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  5. I chopped mine off around December. I think. (I have mommy brain.) I got lots of compliments on it but for me I think it’s a personality mismatch. I don’t regret cutting it at all, but I have to admit that growing it out is more awkward than the (short) bobs I usually go with when I’m in a cutty mood.

    Comment by Rebekka — August 8, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  6. Ohhhhhh How I love Pixie Cuts. Ohhhhhh I have the perfect little face for it. Ohhhhhh I can’t have them because my hair is to thick and won’t lay down unless it is chin-length bob or longer.

    Not kidding. At those lengths, my hair, which is straight, sticks straight from my head. This is a painful, painful issue, like the millions of cute shoes I can’t wear because I have both wide feet and high arches.

    Comment by Lisa in SoCal — August 8, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  7. Love short hair on all sorts of gals, just not on me. As a little girl I always had pretty long hair, then chopped it to my chin in junior high. Big mistake with my wavy/frizzy/big hair!!! Grew it out l-o-n-g again, ever since high school it’s always been either the middle of my back or past my waist. Got it cut a few months ago (I’m 34 now lol) to just past my shoulders, and didn’t like it. I’m much happier now that it’s grown to the middle of my back again. And no bangs for me either. I’ve played with them but are way too much work for me (hello, a cowlick on either side!!! What was I thinking?!) I love my long hair, even though it can be heavy hot and bothersome, I just wouldn’t be me without it! :D Sorry about the long story! Oops!

    Comment by Susan — August 8, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  8. Couldn’t quite decide, so right side is pixie, left side is just less than chin length wavy bob.
    Love it!

    Comment by katinmpls — August 8, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  9. I cut my hair, which I’d stopped chemically relaxing in 2010, into a funky, asymmetrical, curly, pixie, longish bang kinda thing, and I love it. I am a secret wanna-be hipster (not so secret anymore) and lazy, but wanted to keep my hair Natural. This cut was the best decision I’ve made in a while. I was really worried about having short hair and being Teh Fats, but everyday I feel a bit more confident. And Miss Plumcake, your cut is divine. Perfect on you.

    Comment by Ambrosia Jones — August 8, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  10. Just want to say that getting out of a failed relationship with a great haircut and a Birkin is quite a coupe!

    Comment by Thea — August 8, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  11. I love having short hair- but I have to be careful because my head is small but my shoulders are broad (so is my bosom) and I look startlingly out-of-proportion without a ton of volume around my face. I’m growing my hair out right now because I keep dreaming of it being long. And I’ll wear it long until I dream of it being short again.

    Comment by Ellen W. — August 8, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

  12. I love my pixie-ish cut. I’m always changing my hair because it’s such an easy thing to play with, but every time I get it chopped I have this “Hey! It’s ME!” reaction when I look in the mirror. I don’t know that my face corresponds with Frieda’s guidelines, but I love my look and get a ton of compliments so I’m ok with that.

    Comment by Brooke — August 8, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  13. I just cut my hair into a pixie a few days ago, after 20+ years of long hair. My reasons were medical – an irksome disease caused a lot of hair loss and I wanted a fresh start – and I’m thrilled with it.

    I don’t meet any of the criteria listed for looking good with cropped hair (I’m 6 foot, broad shouldered, 7cm from ear to jaw, and wicked curly hair), but somehow it’s working. And I think it’ll look adorable with my wedding dress in a month!

    Comment by Katie, Interrobangs Anonymous — August 8, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

  14. Ive always thought that big bottom girls need some hair to balance the look. But youve proven me wrong! While I dont have the guts for a pixie Ive seen large woman with it, especially older women, and it works. Lesson is… dont limit yourself due to your size.

    Comment by Peaches — August 8, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  15. Katinmpls, we are haircut twins! I just last week went in to get a haircut with shoulder-length hair in a ponytail, told her I couldn’t decide between a tousled pixie and a chin-length bob, and got half of each. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it, and my head feels SOOO much less hot.

    Plumcake, thanks for responding to the hair question. It’s so hard to find good pics online of fat girls with good hair to take to one’s salon. Or it was so hard, until I found this awesome tumblr:

    Totally inspiring, tons of cute short haircuts for women of all ages, ethnicities, and types of hair.

    Comment by Jezebella — August 8, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  16. I have fine curly hair that when short becomes shirley temple unless a lot of product and work is done. Not a good look on my 5’11” broad shouldered, booby hourglass frame. Tried really short hair in college when I was dressing androgynous and I was way too skinny but now it would not suit me.

    SO my hair is longer (past the shoulders)(weight also straightens it out) and it is proportional to my height. My recent change was to go to a center part with a touch of layering around the jawline. Thought for decades my large nose could not handle it but I was wrong – the center part slims the width and is so bloody chic.

    Btw, love the proportions described in this article. It really helps to know this stuff.

    Comment by txbunny — August 8, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  17. This 5.5 cm — is that measured in a straight line, or would your measuring tape follow the jawline?

    Comment by Nomi — August 8, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  18. I am a short-haired gal. Max 1″, mostly shorter, all over. I first got it cut aged ?9, and have worn it short almost ever since. I love it short – it’s off my face, and apart from the incessant haircuts, it’s hassle free. But there is so little flexibility with it. And I no longer have the cheekbones for it.

    I have grown it out three times – at uni/college, aged ~20; when pregnant with my first, aged ~30, and now, aged ~40 – the previous two only lasted a year or so.

    I’m almost at the Demi Moore in “Ghost” stage, working towards the Miss Phryne Fisher sharp chin-length bob, and eventually to just long enough that I can put it up at least into a chignon. because hair on my face drives me bonkers.

    Comment by abdabs — August 8, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  19. I have an oval face (“helped” along by my extra chin), but my hyper-short cut is infinitely more flattering than anything else I have worn in the last decade. It makes my neck look longer and that evil chin a little less noticeable. I try to keep it roughly 1″ (maybe a little less) on top, fading down to 1/2″ on the sides. I’ve got a good natural curl and with the cut I get I can just let my hair do what it wants to do. Think Morena-Baccarin-meets-Halle-Berry-became-a-redhead-and-lost-the-hair-gel.

    Comment by Whitney — August 8, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

  20. @Nomi: I believe that would be in a straight line. The pure vertical difference, no slope.

    Comment by Miss Plumcake — August 9, 2012 @ 12:49 am

  21. Interesting. I can’t quite figure out if my face fits those parameters or not (hard to measure yourself!) though it’s def. on the round side. I can’t pull off a pixie though. Too curly. I did cut it off from below shoulders to above about a month ago; I’ve been thinking of going a little shorter.

    Comment by barbara — August 9, 2012 @ 1:33 am

  22. I grew up with long hair — halfway down my back, then, in a fit of insanity, chopped it into a mullet (!!!) in college. After growing that monstrosity out, I decided to go short again, and this time went all the way. I have had everything from crew cuts and pixie cuts to bobs (hated those — too hot, but too short to pin up), and learned that more severe haircuts work better on me (and suit my personality) than sweet pixies. Now I am sporting a hybrid mohawk (at the ripe old age of 49!), long down the middle (about 4 inches) and half an inch on the sides. Its an odd look that works rather well. I don’t wear it spiked up, but pushed over to the side so one half looks long and the other side short, and on many occasions twist the center section into a French twist or French braid. Compliments all around, even from the more conservative in my acquaintance.

    Comment by lali — August 9, 2012 @ 5:18 am

  23. @Jezebella and @Katinmpls: sounds like you both have my high school senior English’s teacher haircut (from > 20 years ago). She was a grad student from a local university, dyed her hair jet black and wore all black all the time. Interesting person. Also a great teacher. Still remember her going off on the class for not recognizing the archetype of the Devil in Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice.”

    Also, I would think any cut would look good on someone with big eyes, big lips and great cheekbones. That’s gorgeous right there.

    Comment by marvel — August 9, 2012 @ 8:27 am

  24. @Jezebella—sideways mullets unite!

    Comment by katinmpls — August 9, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  25. Whoop whoop! Marvel, I’m probably the same age as your former English teacher, and I have to tell you, this asymetrical bob thing was MASSIVE in the late 80s. Like, everybody I knew had this haircut in 1986. Those of us who were opposed to mall bangs and spiral perms, anyway. I’m totally okay with reviving it because it works for me.

    Comment by Jezebella — August 9, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

  26. I am short and round and from the time I was born till I was 16 I was to grow my hair out as long as I could. (Per request of my father.) By the age of 16, my hair was long past my seat. And thick. And heavy. And always in braids. At 16 my mother took me and my sister to get our hair cut at a real salon! Although dad did not speak to us for a week, he soon realized that the worst thing to happen was our hair growing back. From then on I played around with different lengths and styles. Sported the long hair for a very long time though throughout the years, not hating it as much as I did in my youth. Today, my hair is the shortest it has ever been. I was always weary of short hair because my face is so round. I was always told that short hair on a short round girl would make you look more short and more round! Glad they were wrong ;) I don’t have a pixie cut, but it is a short angled bob, razored and thinned in the back. I love it and I have never received as many compliments as I have with this cut. I may start growing it out some fall, but until then, I am enjoying the lighter and cooler cut!

    Comment by Margie — August 9, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  27. Good to know the math behind the ‘do. I am keeping it long, though. Long hair is easier for me. Go figure.

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — August 11, 2012 @ 2:56 am

  28. I did get my hair cut quite short years ago and while I really liked it, it turned into something like going crazy with tweezers. I kept taking more and more off until there was hardly anything there. I needed an intervention. It’s quite long now, but only because I’m too lazy at this point to do anything more than put it in a ponytail.

    Comment by tovah — August 31, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

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