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Because Long Hair Is Feminine, when a girl has short hair it tends to mean she's decidedly less feminine than the average girl, perhaps even a Tomboy or Action Girl. This choice of having short hair usually indicates a girl has a more masculine personality, is tough and aggressive, or is lacking in vanity, perhaps being business-like and brainy. Girls may cut their hair short because they don't want to put up with the maintenance that longer hair requires. Other times it's short so no one can easily grab it in a fight, which Braids of Action are sometimes prone to be.
The contrast of a short haired girl with a long haired one can sometimes be used to portray a Tomboy and Girly Girl. If taken to extremes, a girl with Boyish Short Hair could be a Butch Lesbian, many of whom have this as an indicator. May be the result of an Important Haircut, with the new short hair being an indicator that the girl is ready to take action. Also sometimes necessary for a girl to go undercover as a Sweet Polly Oliver.
Compare Tomboyish Ponytail.
Compare and Contrast Bob Haircut, which is short but still considered feminine.
Contrast Long Hair Is Feminine.
A subtrope of Expository Hairstyles.
Anime and Manga
- Kino in Kino's Journey has boyishly short hair. She is a Bokukko variant of Tomboy and often uses masculine pronouns to refer to herself.
- Bleach: Resident Tomboy, turned karate instructor, (post time skip) Tatsuki Arisawa has short, dark, spiky hair and has a Tomboy and Girly Girl friendship with Orihime. Soi Fon, who is a Tsundere and Ninja also has short spiky hair. The two bear more than a passing resemblance to each other and have similar personalities.
- Similarly, Rukia Kuchiki isn't exactly a tomboy, but she has short hair which has gotten even shorter after the Time Skip and a very straightforward attitude.
- Jackie Tristan, too. Specially when younger.
- Princess Mononoke has San, whose appearance is justified since she was literally raised by wolves.
- Irma, of Queen's Blade, would be this, plus, a White-Haired Pretty Girl if she weren't so tomboyish and set to Tsundere-tsun all the time. But considering her upbringing in an assassin's guild, and having been betrayed by her Sexy Mentor/love interest, who abandoned her, leaving her hurt and bitter over it.... Wait, does this remind you of anything?
- Azumanga Daioh has Kagura, a tomboyish superstar athelete and Unknown Rival to Sakaki, whose a naturally gifted Shrinking Violet. Bonus points for having Hotblooded Sideburns! Her coach, Minamo Kurosawa also has short hair, is a strong all-around athlete, and tomboy tendencies.
- Anita King from ROD the TV combines Boyish Short Hair with tomboyish behavior and Chinese-style hair buns. She's also an Artificial Human and strong enough to hold her own in a fight with adult men several times her size.
- Inverted in Strawberry Shake Sweet, short-haired, boyish-looking Ran is the Girly Girl to Julia's Tomboy.
- Zoey from Pokémon, easily the most tomboyish of any of Dawn's female rivals and has short,spikey and fiery red hair.
- Dirty Pair Flash: Kei makes up the tomboy half of the Lovely Angels. Though she and Yuri are among the 3WA's top trouble consultants, she's better known for her hair trigger temper and her itchy trigger finger. Which often spells disaster since she packs a friggin' hand canon! She's also a Ladette.
- Mariya from Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru: Every character, including the male lead, is The Ojou. Mariya is less ladylike than the rest of the cast, including the male lead, and she drops her facade only when she's alone with him. While still feminine (a true tomboy would be very out of place at a high-class all-girls school) she occupies the Tomboy role.
- Code Geass: Kallen is a Ms. Fanservice version of this. She is the Black Knights Ace Pilot and Lelouch's bodyguard. Her short hair indicates that she is not to be trifled with.
- Princess Nine: At least four, and possibly five or six, of the girls have Boyishly Short Hair. This is a show about girls playing baseball on even terms with boys so tomboys are to be expected.
- Haruka Tenou/Sailor Uranus in Sailor Moon is a short-haired Bokukko, in explicit contrast to her lover, long-haired and feminine Michiru Kaiou/Sailor Neptune. She often wears masculine clothes in real life -- not because she's specifically crossdressing, but just because she likes them. (Though it should be mentioned that this happens more in the anime than the manga).
- One too many Pretty Cures; most also tend to have red or orange hair. Examples include Nagisa/Cure Black, Saki/Cure Bloom, Rin/Cure Rouge, Itsuki/Cure Sunshine, and Akane/Cure Sunny.
- Toyed with in the case of Ukraine from Hetalia, who has extremely short hair and dresses like a boy, but is more of a Nice Girl in personality.
- Played straighter with Belgium, who's quite straightforward and has wavy hair that reaches to her neck.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S:
- Subaru Nakajima, tomboyish Genki Girl Cute Bruiser martial artist who fights by punching enemies really, really hard.
- Minor character Alto Krauetta, resident mechanic and helicopter pilot who actually went through a portion of her childhood thinking she was a boy since she was raised in a mostly male environment.
- Gabrielle, Xena's sidekick on Xena: Warrior Princess provides the picture for this trope, and is also a perfect example, with her impromtu haircut being a symbolic conclusion to her Coming of Age Story, and of her maturing from being Xena's young sidekick and protegee, to a mature, independant, strong woman, and fighter, with skills on par with Xena's own.
- Marcy had a short haircut in a large part of Married... with Children, demonstrating her lack of femininity (she was mistaken for a boy several times).
- Djaq from Robin Hood. The first series involved her as a Sweet Polly Oliver with cropped hair; by the second series she was no longer hiding her gender, but kept the short hairdo.
- Captain/Major/Lt. Colonel/Colonel Sam Carter of Stargate SG-1 is a good example. She's definitely brainy (an astrophysicist) and an Action Girl (she didn't get all those ranks for nothing.) However, she doesn't have much of a stereotypically masculine personality (though she is a Straw Feminist for the first couple of episodes) and she is definitely portrayed as super hot, though not sexualized.
- Starbuck, The Ladette and Ace Pilot from Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. She tends to reject many staples of femininity (for example she has little to no interest in having kids) in favor of trying to outdo the boys: fighting better, being tougher, drinking more, sleeping around more, etc. Notably, the only time when she in a position of helplessness for a prolonged period of time, (being a Cylon prisoner on New Caprica during the entire occupation) is also the only time that her hair grows out.
- Arya, the feisty tomboy from Game of Thrones. She loathes medieval female roles such as sewing, cooking, and dreaming of marrying a prince, and instead prefers beating her older brother at archery, learning how to fence, and so on. Cemented in season 2, when Tywin notes her unusual passion for history and warrior women from the past, and says that most girls prefer romantic tales about maidens with flowers in their hair and such. Arya's response? "Most girls are idiots."
- Heroine's Alanna and Keladry, both female knights, wear their hair short in the Tortall Universe books, being tomboys. Alanna went undercover as a Sweet Polly Oliver, but Keladry didn't, she just keeps it short because it's practical. Subverted by a later heroine, Beka, who despite being boyish and knowing that short hair is better in combat, keeps her long hair, but braids a strip of spikes into it so anyone who grabs it in a fight will get a nasty surprise.
- In Up, Ellie has short, messy hair as a kid and she also used to be a Tomboy.
- In Some Kind of Wonderful, tomboyish teen Watts only wears masculine clothes and has a short haircut.
- Tomboy Scout Finch has short hair in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird (in the book, her hair is not mentioned).
- The main character in Train is shown to have cut her hair short in the end, after killing all the villains. It also probably symbolizes how she's serious about being on the wrestling team now, since witnessing your teammates being horribly tortured to death will apparently do that.
- Final Fantasy:
- When Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike: originally debuted, gamers had a hard time telling whether Makoto was a boyish looking girl or a girly looking boy. At least, until they saw her dizzy animation.
- Art of Fighting's King is a Bifauxnen kickboxer, whose prowess nearly rivals that of dueterognist Robert Garcia. She becomes a Team Mom, in the King of Fighters series, since she's usually in charge of the All Womens Team.
- Chie Satonaka from Persona 4 has shorter hair than her friend Yukiko, and is into more "boyish" things like martial arts.
- Bloody Roar: Primal Fury: Jane Gado, bka 'Shina', is a highly trained mercenary and the adopted daughter of Alan Gado. She's known for her frankness and tenacity both on and off the field of combat. Her most striking feature is her spikey blonde hair, which resembles a lion's mane.
- Soul Calibur II: Cassandra Alexandra, is another example. Unlike her sister, Sophitia, she's brash and somewhat impulsive, but usually means well. In the fourth game, she's determined to destroy Soul Edge and free her sister once and for all. The length and style of her hair varies depending on the costume the player selects, but it's usually kept short.
- Mostly averted in Fire Emblem, since many of the Action girls there have long hair. Among the few ones with short hair and a tomboyish or straightforward attitude we have Lakche and Phee from Seisen no Keifu (alongside their espies Radney and Femina); Tania, Machua, Princess Miranda and Mareeta from Thracia 776; Vaida from Rekka no Ken; and arguably, Amelia from Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones.
- Pattie Mayonnaise fills this spot in Nickelodeon's Doug. She's best friends with Doug and Skeeter and Doug's secret crush and often participates in sports. One episode even has her pull a Sweet Polly Oliver in order to try out for the school softball team, which didn't work out for her. So she made her own team to challenge the school's!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Despite being the daughter of the wealthiest family in the Earth Kingdom city of Gaoling, Toph Bei Fong is surprisingly um... unlady-like. So how bad is she? For starters, she was participating in earthbending battles at age 12!! Her manners leave alot to be desired, considering she's prone to belching, picking her nose, and her toes. And while her hair isn't "short", it's not exactly "long" either even though she's got alot of it. It's basically piled on top of her head, making it more of a Funny Afro, when she doesn't comb it. In most cases, she styles it into a bun. A really big bun.