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Traumatichaircut

Jewelry? Vast wardrobes? Footwear? Cosmetics? For some weird reason, these are not the most prized possessions for some societies and individuals; instead, it's... hair.

Whether it's good or evil, a person's hair comes to symbolize honor, social station, and otherwise serves as a human peacock tail, representing a life rather than a fashion statement. Thusly, having it forcibly cut off isn't just a minor fashion faux pas, but akin to rape; and is likened to having your life stolen from you. From another view, a forced haircut serves as the symbolic initiation of worse things to come.

A minor subtrope involves hair being the source of a hero's powers (or in modern tales, an emotional anchor) that when cut off renders a hero vulnerable and powerless.

Compare Important Haircut, where it is often self-induced to indicate a change in values or goals, and Expository Hairstyle Change for when there's any hairstyle change that also indicates a change in character. See also Scars Are Forever and Beauty to Beast for the grisly body part version, as well as the milder and more comedic version, Nobody Touches the Hair. If this gets Played for Laughs then it's a Gag Haircut though it does overlap with this since it can still be traumatic for the character.

Examples of Traumatic Haircut include:


Anime and Manga

  • In the Peach Girl manga Momo is bullied by a trio of Kairi's fangirls. They tell her that she doesn't deserve Kairi and force her to the ground while holding a lighter to her hair, telling her unless she signs a treaty (saying that she'll stay away from Kairi) then they'll burn all her hair off. Thankfully, Kairi rescues her, but not before the girls manage to singe a bit of Momo's hair.
  • Bobobobo Bobobo: The evil Empire's plot was to shave everyone's head bald, though this is played for laughs.
  • While Sakura does cut her own hair to escape an enemy at one point in Naruto, she is considerably annoyed that she had to. Still, she keeps it short afterwards.
    • Ino cuts her hair as well afterward, but this becomes a component in one of her jutsus. She lets it grow back later.
    • A female villain in a Filler arc of Shippuden was very sensitive about damage to her hair. It turns out that she is actually a Body Snatching head of hair.
  • In the manga version of Fruits Basket, Akito cuts Isuzu's long hair while attempting to kill her slowly and painfully by starving her in a private room in the Sohma estate. It's strongly hinted that she did so because Isuzu's long hair reminded Akito of her abusive mother, Ren, who wears her hair exactly that way ("Long black hair... like that woman... it makes me so sick!"). It doesn't help that Ren actually asked Isuzu to do something for her with fake promises and that is when Akito caught and captured her.
  • Tsukushi is in the receiving end of this in the second half of Hana Yori Dango.
  • Happens to Jessie in an episode of Pokemon where a Scyther chops it off and she spends the rest of the episode trying to get revenge. The end of the episode has a Scyther give her and James involuntary mohawks. Arceus help you if you damage Jessie's hair. She's been known to attack snakes larger than herself with her bare hands for this offense -- and not only win, but make the snake her personal bitch for the next six seasons.
  • Akane's accidental haircut courtesy of both Ranma and Ryoga in Ranma One Half. Both Ranma and Ryoga start apologizing profusely, expecting a Megaton Punch or the like, but Akane was remarkably calm about it. Turns out she only had long hair to begin with to impress Dr. Tofu. Now, if her hair had been cut before she gave up the crush on the older man, heads would've rolled.
    • Not that it stopped her from giving both Ranma and Ryoga an Armor-Piercing Slap before she left, though. To be fair, both of them told her to hit them in between the apology round.
    • After this, we're also introduced to principal Kuno, the father of Tatewaki, whose weapon of choice is a pair of hair clippers. We learn that in previous times, his favorite obsession was shaving his son bald (an obsession still burning, and one that now affects all the students in the school), and this is something that has left deep scars in Tatewaki's heart. Traumatic haircut indeed.
  • Pictured above: In Bleach, Orihime used to be tormented by other girls who cut her long hair by force. After Tatsuki saved her, Orihime vowed never to cut her hair again as a symbol of their friendship.
    • Ayasegawa Yumichika's attack on Charlotte Cuulhuorne's hair is enough to make Charlotte go to his released form, despite already dominating the fight. It's implied Yumichika did it deliberately in an attempt to make Charlotte release sooner rather than later, however... and if he did, then it worked perfectly.
      • Played for Laughs much earlier, when one of Ganjuu's bombs ruins Yumichika's hair... and gives him a Funny Afro. He uses a wig to cover it up.
  • In the manga version of Flame of Recca, Mikagami cuts Yanagi's hair after telling her about his dead sister (who she looks very much like, and apparently looks even more like with her hair short). Recca gets royally pissed, and brings up the hair=life comparison during the fight that ensues.
  • Both played straight and parodied in the Rose of Versailles manga; first parodied with Andre's reluctance to cut his hair for a disguise (and Oscar's mockery of him for this), later played much more tragically with the imprisoned and condemned former Queen Marie Antoinette.
  • Subverted in the Arlong arc of One Piece: Hachi receives a Close-Call Haircut in a swordfight, and howls with rage...for two seconds until he shrugs, saying it's just hair and it'll grow back. But later played straight with Brook in the Thriller Bark arc: a zombie powered by his shadow threatens to cut his Funny Afro, and Brook panics, since it can't grow back, and he needs it for Laboon to recognize him.
  • A similar subversion occurs in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple during a Master Class fight between Shigure and Kii Kagerou. Shigure manages to cut Kagerou's hair with her katana; at first Kagerou looks genuinely pissed by the feat, only to reveal moments later that he was in fact kidding and that he doesn't mind his loss at all.
  • In Basilisk, Yashamaru gets his long hair cut off during a battle. The same one where he actually dies.
  • In D Gray Man, Lenalee's long, beautiful hair is destroyed (leaving it boyishly short) after her battle with the Level 3 Akuma. She does begin to regrow it, and she was never shown being distressed by the fact her hair was cut.
    • A funny example is the fact that Allen and Kanda threaten to shave the other's head. During a sparring practice they wagered their hair on the outcome.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, Scar Chain manages to rig the slot machines so that Minatsuki doesn't have to lose any body organs, but just cut her hair short.
  • After spending club funds with which he had been entrusted, Eguchi Yousuke of Shonan Bakusouzoku swears he will shave off his pompadour if he can't pay the money back. Eguchi's pompadour is very Serious Business.
  • Maya Natsume in Tenjho Tenge while fighting against Emi Isuzu.
  • In Claymore, Clare and Teresa were both originally proud of their long, black hair. The process used to give them their powers turns their hair platinum blonde. Clare also is forced to cut her hair during training. Also, Clare accidentally cuts off a lock of Galataea's hair while rescuing her from Agatha, who's holding Galataea hostage. Much indignation ensues.
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade shows that Chrono's hair was worn long as a child up until a battle right after what would have been his coming-of-age ceremony. During the battle his Rapunzel Hair is burned off to the shorter, jagged cut that he wears the rest of the time (in his true form). It seems pretty symbolic of Chrono losing his innocence, particularly since the battle marks the start of the trauma that eventually leads to him becoming a Failure Knight, if not downright developing PTSD (it's also worth noting that when he meets Rosette and Joshua in his Sleep Mode Size, his previously short hair has grown long again, possibly hinting that he regains some of his innocence by spending time with the children).
  • Katsura from Gintama has his hair cut off to be used as a trophy after apparently being killed by an assassin in the Benizakura arc. It eventually grows back.
  • In chapter 43 of Desire Climax Hayato does this to Mio after kidnapping her, cutting her long hair shorter.
  • In Laputa: Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Muska shot off each of Sheeta's braids as a threat.
  • Eureka indirectly suffers this in episode 19 of Eureka Seven by the Scab Coral.
  • In an Attack on Titan story describing Levi's past, his adoptive younger sister Isabel once comes back home beaten up and with one of her Girlish Pigtails cut off. Levi is NOT happy.

Comic Books

  • Shows up in V for Vendetta
  • Lex Luthor. Jup, Pre-Crisis Lex Luthor's original reason for turning evil was that, whilst he and Superboy were friends, one accident causes Lex Luthor... To lose all of his hair prematurely! Oh no, my life is ruined! I'll get you for this, Superboy!
    • It's not nearly that simple. Lex had just created living matter in the lab, and with it he was preparing a treatment to immunize his friend Superboy to Kryptonite. A lab fire and Superboy's precipitate action to extinguish it destroyed the matter, and the fumes rendered Luthor bald. He resented both, but the destruction of his artificial life and the kryptonite cure were what really unbalanced Lex (and maybe all those weird fumes had something to do with it...).
  • And... A modern Superman comic had Joker show up with a chemical which causes mass hysteria because... It makes them bald.

Fan Works

  • The Cori Falls fic "The Power That's Inside" takes the canon Pokémon example and has Jessie going into a complete mental breakdown from her unwanted haircut, even going suicidal at one point and revealing that her last memory of her Missing Mom was her brushing her hair. Basically, the fic takes Jessie getting pissed off for the sake of comic relief and warps it into a bundle of wangsty Mommy Issues.

Film

  • Evie has her head shaved for her interrogation in V for Vendetta. Upon finding out that it was V who actually put her through the whole ordeal, her first accusation was that "you cut my hair!" Even before mentioning that he tortured her. Notably, Natalie Portman really had her head shaved for that scene and said that she had looked forward to it.
  • In the foreign film "OSAMA", the main female lead does this in order to pose as a boy. Her braid is put in a flowerpot and watered for symbolism.
  • Prime example being the Break the Haughty climax of Beauty Shop. Comes complete with Screams Like a Little Girl.
  • Nobutada's topknot cutting scene in The Last Samurai. Bad thing, Koyamada kinda overdid it when it came to emotion and rendered the scene inorganic.
    • Another example is in Seven Samurai, where the wise leader shaves his head to disguise himself as a monk. Yeah, he has a reason to be bald, opposed to Yul Brynner in the remake. The farmer who wants to hide his daughter from the incoming samurais cuts her long hair, much to her disapproval.
    • And also (played on the shame side) an important thing in Seppuku, where Tsugomo hunts down his cowardly enemies and defeats them only to cut off their topknots and later show them to their feudal lord. It works.
    • The scene is also meant to mirror the discussion of scalping earlier in the film, so the message becomes rather Anvilicious. Somewhat justified as in feudal Japan only monks, who made a vow of poverty, shaved their hair. To be bald was therefore to display a lack of status and wealth.
  • Shanghai Noon has Jackie Chan's character lose his long pony tail when Chon (Jackie) and Roy (Owen Wilson) are captured by the princess's kidnapper, Lo Fong; he cuts Chon's hair off, knowing exactly what this means for him if he should try to return (see below under Real Life for how significant this would be).
  • The lead heroine in the French film Frontiers has her hair cut by a little girl, who belongs to a ritualistic, depraved family of Nazis... and it only gets worse from there.
  • Happens to Garth in Wayne's World, audibly traumatizing him.
  • The "Creepy Thin Guy" in the latest Charlie's Angels movie does this, often ripping out the hair with his bare hands
  • Waterworld: The Mariner (Kevin Costner's character) to Helen.
  • As noted below, US Marine recruits are forcibly shaved when they arrive at basic training. This was depicted in Full Metal Jacket and also spoofed in Police Academy, where Blanks and Copeland get buzz cuts at the Academy barber--only to learn moments later that it isn't required, because it's just police training, not boot camp.
  • In Mommie Dearest, Joan forcibly cuts Christina's hair (while screaming at her) after catching her preening in Joan's mirror. "I spoiled it, just like I spoiled you." Granted, part of this was because Christina had put face lotion in her hair.
  • Spaceballs uses this trope, when Princess Vespa's hair gets shot and she transforms from a Damsel in Distress to a ruthless killing machine.
  • Porky's 2 has it happen to their Magical Native American friend.
  • In Vamos a matar, compañeros, Vasco cuts Lola's hair as punishment for allegedly sleeping with a foreigner. Later in the movie, we find out he kept the lock of hair, and gives it back to Lola to apologize and declare his love to her.
  • Used in Play Misty for Me.
  • In Star Wars: Episode I, the last scene shows Anakin as a young Padawan. His hair was cut into a mullet. He seems rather unhappy about it.
  • During the Extended Flashback that takes up most of the length of Hiroshima Mon Amour, the French female protagonist describes how her head was forcibly shaved as punishment for an affair with a German soldier during WW 2.
  • Similarly, the Irish lead character of Ryan's Daughter has her head shaved after an affair with a British soldier.
  • In the Japanese classic Harakiri, the protagonist defeats several other samurai and shaves off their topknots.
  • Una and, later, Bernadette in The Magdalene Sisters. Might also have happened to Crispina, who has an uneven haircut and is unstable enough that she might have tried to escape like the others.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar's character in I Know What You Did Last Summer.
  • In Amy & Isabelle the mother Isabelle discovers that her daughter Amy had slept with her teacher and suffers a momentary breakdown because she had also slept with an older man as a teenager and that man got her pregnant with Amy. In a fit of rage she hacks off Amy's beautiful long curly hair. Later near the end of the movie she takes her to the hairdressers to have it tidied up.
  • Happens in the Lifetime Movie of the Week She Fought Alone. After reporting the Jerk Jock who raped her, the heroine becomes the school outcast and one night a group of her classmates surround her in an alley and cut off chunks of her hair. It's barely noticeable once the heroine slaps a baseball cap on top of it.
  • ​A Killer Among Friends ​had one of Jenny's friends hacking her hair with a knife by a creek.
  • In Hitcher in the Dark, Daniela (Josie Bisset) is drugged by the man she's getting a lift from and wakes up to find he has cut off all of her beautiful long blonde hair and also dyed it brown so that she now looks more like his mother.
  • Happens to the protagonist's little sister in Remember Me. the Alpha Bitch invites her to a supervised birthday party, and the girl thinks the bully wants to be friends now, so she goes. Then while the adults are busy, the bully and her Girl Posse gang up on her, hold her down, and chop off her pigtails. Her brother, father, and the brother's roommate are not happy.
  • Tangled naturally features this, being an adaptation of "Rapunzel", but there's a twist: at the end of the movie, it's Flynn who cuts Rapunzel's hair. Her hair has magic properties that heal the wounded and make the old young again (why Gothel kidnapped her in the first place), but it loses its power if it's cut. When the villain stabs him, Rapunzel vows to stay with her forever if she'll be allowed to heal Flynn, who has been mortally wounded. By taking the option of cutting her hair before she does so, Flynn frees Rapunzel from the oppressive mother figure she's been with for 18 years, knowing full well that he'll die as a result.
  • George Sanderson from Monsters, Inc.. He is always known for his tendency to get certain objects that originally belonged to human children (such as socks) onto his fur, and since all the other monsters think that making contact with children's belongings is considered deadly to them, poor George actually had to have all of his fur shaved off just for his safety (and he's not very happy about it). Fortunately, his fur grew back at the end of the film.
  • In The Brady Bunch Movie, jealous Jan dreamt about cutting Marcia's hair in her sleep. Unfortunately for Jan, Marcia still looked nice afterward, so her ego didn't get damaged at all.
  • In Bent, as is custom for the prisoners in concentration camps, Max has his stylish hair shaved off.
  • The protagonist of Ma Vie en Rose has a haircut forced upon him when his parents become fed up with his femininity.
  • The Crying Game. Dil. The last thing she wants to be is a boy again. The only way Dil agrees is that Fergus insists that he's doing it for love; she still cries as her hair is cut.

 Fergus: Do anything for me?

Dil: Anything... (Fergus starts to cut her hair) NO WAY!

Fergus: You said anything.

Dil: Girl has to draw the line somewhere.


Literature

  • Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock satirizes an actual scandal of an involuntary haircut that tore apart the engagement of one of Pope's friends. He took the real events, changed the names to protect the innocent, added sylphs and gnomes and other Divine Machinery. and wrote up a grand Battle Royale With Cheese that breaks out between the men and the women over the ill-fated lock. Whose fate was not quite that ill after all.
  • In Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold, a Cetagandan noblewoman is restrained in an ingenious way -- since Haut ladies never cut their hair, the bad guys decided to humiliate her by locking her hair to the floor. She refused to cut it even when Miles Vorkosigan came to the rescue (to her disgust, he compared it to animals gnawing through their limbs to escape a trap), so he had to distract her in order to cut it without her consent. With a knife. She was a bit upset afterwards. Also, a different noblewoman later gives Miles a lock of her hair; it's a surprisingly moving token of her esteem.
  • In Shards of Honor by the same author, this trope is used as a chilling prequel to a real rape (plus additional torture), when the sadistic psychopath bad guy cuts off a lock of Cordelia's red hair and plays with it.

 Vorrutyer: I must think what can be done with that hair. One might remove the scalp entirely, of course, but there must be something more creative...

    • More terrifying when you realize it wasn't her he really wanted to torture, it was her fiancee.
  • The story "The Nutcracker Coup" by Janet Kagan is about aliens with hedgehog-like spines down their backs. It was a deeply shaming punishment to have these spines clipped. When one of the aliens befriended by the protagonist (a junior member of the human diplomatic staff) had it done, the protagonist told her that someone once cut her hair off to shame her, but she dyed the remnant bright red and gloried in it. The clipped aliens are inspired to put beads on their spines and walk tall, which angers those who clipped them, but they don't care.
  • In the second book of the Sword of Truth series, Kahlan gets her hair lopped off when she's sentenced to execution. This is one of the more obvious examples, as in a good chunk of the series' world, a woman's hair is directly and explicitly tied to her status, and Kahlan has the longest locks around. She also lops off a bit of her own hair. That doesn't sound awesome, but Confessors are magically incapable of cutting their own hair, as part of an enforcement of the status symbol. A Confessor who cuts her own hair suffers debilitating pain. In part because of that knowledge, Richard realized that Kahlan really did love him despite putting the Rada'Han on his neck and sending him to the Palace of the Prophets.
  • In the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, the fanatically religious grandmother coats Cathy's long hair in tar to force her to cut it (believing that vanity is a sin). The children manage to remove the tar with chemicals. The film adaptation plays the trope normally; the grandmother knocks Cathy unconscious and screams "You are a sinner!" before hacking off her hair with a comically vast pair of scissors.
    • In the Celeste series, Celeste's mother cuts Celeste's hair while she is asleep, in order to force her to dress as a boy and assume the identity of her dead twin brother.
  • Among the Tiste Edur people in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, those banished in disgrace are "shorned" (shaven bald), and their scalps doused in chemicals so their hair will never grow back, to mark them as outlaws.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • The talking horses Bree and Hwin must have their tails cut short to disguise themselves as packhorses. Bree is especially annoyed and tries to delay his entry into Narnia so that he won't undergo the shame of being seen with a ragged tail by the rest of his kind.
    • In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the White Witch has Aslan tied down and his mane cut off before executing him. When he is revived, said main returns.
  • Fantine, in Les Misérables (musical as well as book) willingly sells her hair to buy a woolen skirt for her daughter Cosette. Though other heroines in other books do the same thing, for Fantine it is the first step towards her degradation and shame, as her beautiful hair is one of the few things left she has of beauty and sentimental value.
  • In Jane Eyre, the narrator witnesses Mr. Brocklehurst's visit to Lowood School, where he admonishes a girl named Julia for having curled her hair, saying that she is giving her soul over to Satan, she will burn in hell for idleness and vanity, and demanding that it be cut off as soon as possible - never mind that Julia's hair is naturally curly. Jane protests about that, only to end up getting her long hair cut off too.
    • In more than one adaptation, all of the Lowood girls (Jane, Julia and Jane's best friend Helen included) get their hair forcibly cut as a part of their "mortification".
  • Forgotten Realms: played half-straight half-inverted in the case of Jarlaxle. In drow matriarchal theocratic society hair style reflects status. So, how guy can show he's not in the system, without being either Rule-Abiding Rebel or simply punished and ordered to reverse? By changing indicator state to "undefined". He shaved his head -- Take That, clergy.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story The Copper Beeches a woman Violet Hunter is offered a position as a governess with a three figure salary on the condition she cut off her beautiful hair quite short. It turns out they were really hiring her to impersonate their daughter who had been ill with a Brain Fever and her hair had to be cut off.
  • In Stephen King's Wizard and Glass, Wicked Witch Rhea hypnotizes Susan into cutting off all her hair after losing virginity. She doesn't, as she's stopped by Roland.
  • At one point in Animorphs, Rachel ends up having to sell 6 inches of her hair to an Iskoort in order to pay for the services of a guide-about-town (incidentally named Guide). He wanted all of it. Rachel threatened violence. Guide compromised. He also wanted the last foot and a half of Ax's tail. Same basic story.
  • Self-inflicted example in The Red and The Black - The Villain Protagonist "tames" his Tsundere/Yandere (she alternates between being a snooty aristocrat and acting lovey-dovey, and is batshit insane) love interest, and to show fealty to him, she cuts her hair brutally short.
  • The Ancient Greek playwright Menander had a play titled Perikeiromene which translates as "Girl who has her hair cropped". This refers to an incident prior to the action of the play, where the hero suspects his mistress of infidelity and shears her hair as punishment.
  • L. M. Montgomery's novel The Golden Road contains a chapter titled "The Rape of the Lock in a Shout-Out to the Pope poem. In this chapter a boy steals a lock of hair from a girl he has an unrequited crush on.
    • Also happens in L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, because she attempts to dye her hair black, but it comes out greenish.
  • In the book Circle Of Blood by Alane Ferguson, the book's victim is found dead with her long braid cut off beside her. It later turns out that her killers were members of the cult she escaped from, and cutting off her hair was their way of stealing her beauty.
  • In Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second book of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, Locke observes a noble's holiday retreat in which chess is played with live peasants who are paid a pittance to endure the game and must pay a gruesome forfeit when "taken". Forfeits can be anything short of actual death. One of the first ones he observes is a young female "chess piece" being forcibly stripped, and when this has little effect on her the noble player orders that her head should be shaved as well.
  • The Deed of Paksenarrion: This may ring a bit hollow given the rest of the terrible stuff that follows (including actual rape), but a shaved head is one of the first things to be done to Paks during her three days of Cold-Blooded Torture. The act invoked the (more lawful) established practice of tinisi turin ("shorn sheep"), a punishment for military criminals.
  • In F.M. Busby's Rissa Kerguelen series, people forced into the "Total Welfare" system--government-sanctioned slavery, essentially--have their hair clipped almost to the scalp. When our heroine is freed from the system, the first thing she announces she's going to do is grow her hair as long as it will go.
  • In The Handmaid's Tale, Offred imagines that her husband is still alive, inventing a scenario where he's been captured and she imagines that his captors have cut his long hair.
  • One of the humiliations inflicted upon Honor Harrington by her captors in In Enemy Hands. Also the least successful since for most of her career she wore her hair extremely short.
  • Happens to a rape victim in Almost the Truth by Margaret Yorke. It's played on repeatedly throughout the book: she uses it as evidence of physical assault in court, her hairstyle is referred to many times even after it's grown out, and her father thinks about the incident often (since he didn't witness the rape) as he decides to take revenge on the rapist.)
  • In The Devil's Arithmetic, Hannah, Rivka and the other Jewish women have their hair cut off as they enter the Concentration Camp. The men also have their sidelocks cut off and the movie version shows the Rabbi with his beard cut off.
  • In The Color Purple Celie writes that Misters girls have hair that hasn't been combed since their mother died, being that it is so unmanageable, she suggest shaving the hair off and starting fresh. Mister disagrees and says that it is "bad luck to cut a woman hair."
  • The short story Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F Scott Fitzgerald ends with the title character chopping off her sleeping cousin's hair as revenge for convincing Bernice to get a haircut, which is not only highly unflattering but due to the mores of the day all Bernice's male admirers now think of her as "loose."
  • In 'The Outsiders' by S. E. Hinton, the main character, Ponyboy, is attacked by socs and they attempt to cut his hair (long hair was his emblem of greaser status) when they try to, he begins screaming and fighting to be released. However, in later chapters he is forced by circumstances to both dye and cut his hair. Ponyboy and Johnny also discuss how judges force convicted greasers to get haircuts as a way to break them.
  • Also, in Hinton's That Was Then, This Is Now, the main characters, Bryon and Mark, cut off Bryon's ex-girlfriend's hair after she recruits a guy to beat up Ponyboy (who rejected her advances) and he ends up cracking Mark over the head with a busted bottle.
  • Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls has her head shaved by the Spanish fascists. It gets worse.
  • In one of the Babysitters Club spinoff "little sister" books, Karen hates the short haircut she gets (mainly because she didn't ask for it to look like that) and tries various methods to make herself look nicer again, including repeatedly going by more "glamorous" names. Luckily her hair is growing back by the end of the story.
  • Kid-friendly example: In How to Survive Summer Camp by Jacqueline Wilson, Stella has a very short haircut which she hates and makes her the victim of bullying from the other girls at a summer camp she attends. She explains that she'd gone to have a new hairstyle for her mother and stepfather's wedding, but when she tried to demonstrate that she only wanted a small amount cut, the hairdresser misunderstood and duly sheared her hair down to bristle.
  • In the YA novel Sixth Grade Secrets, by Louis Sachar, sixth-grader/heroine Laura's pride and joy is her Rapunzel Hair, which her parents had promised her to have at an early age in exchange for never lying to them or to anyone else. Near the end of the book,the Alpha Bitch and her boyfriend ambush her on her way home from school, forcibly cutting her hair to her shoulders, and leaving a fake note implying that The Hero had done it (Laura was attacked from behind, and it happened so fast she didn't see who'd done it). Understandably, she's devastated, sobbing in her parents' arms for quite some time afterward and missing school the next day.
  • In What About Me? Erica locks herself in her room and cuts her long, beautiful hair off after her boyfriend's asshole of a cousin grabbed/pulled her by it before raping her. After the cut, she screams that now no one will be able to use her hair as a weapon against her again, and promptly breaks down as her father tries to console her.
  • In The Dresden Files, when Ivy is kidnapped by Denarians and tortured, this trope happens.
  • Harry Potter gets his untidy dark hair chopped off by his aunt, all except the bangs ("to hide that horrible scar!") However, being a wizard, it grew back overnight, though Harry lost the entire night's sleep over the fear of getting laughed at more.
  • In Monstrous Regiment, "Ozzer" pretends to have had one of these while disguised as a barmaid, telling the enemy Zlobenians that the hair was cut as punishment because "they said I smiled at a Zlobenian soldier." Except Ozzer is really Polly. Who has cut her hair to pose as a boy, and who was a barmaid before she joined the army. It gets more complicated than that later...
  • Happens in Becky's Horse, by Winifred Madison, when Becky's sister Mimi tries to dye her hair blonde and it comes out greenish. She has it cut, and stops being vain about her hair.
  • In Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy, the six-year-old heroine is pretending she's a hair stylist and experiments on herself. Her dad takes her to a beauty parlor for a neatening trim from an actual one.
  • In Belle Prater's Boy, Gypsy chops off her long blonde hair after having a flashback to a horrifying incident. She found her father after he'd committed suicide because he was no longer handsome. She has it neatened up at a barbershop, tells her friends at school it's the latest style, a "Dixie Pixie", and starts a new trend.
  • Ehlana gets a drawn-out version during the Tamuli; each message her kidnappers send to Sparhawk include a lock of her hair. By the time Sparhawk catches up with them, she's been shaved bald ... which shouldn't have been necessary, there weren't that many messages. Her kidnappers may have taken extra for the trauma value.
  • In the novel Pretty Is, Erin sneaks up on her ex-best friend Kayla in the middle of the night and cuts off her long golden hair.
  • The Appendices of the Lord of the Rings depict one of these in the backstory behind the war between the Dwarves and the Orcs. Hostilities were touched off when the Orc chieftain Azog killed King-Under-The-Mountain Thror, then beheaded him and branded his name on his forehead. All that would have been bad enough, but then Azog decided to shave off Thror's beard too. That was the absolute last straw for the Dwarves, who prided themselves on their full and manly beards, and so began a war of utter extermination.
  • The Hero and The Crown has a rare example of the heroine inflicting the haircut: Aerin gives her annoying and vain cousin a knock-out drink, then sneaks into her room and cuts off her eyelashes. Hilarity ensues.


Live Action TV

  • Smallville's Lionel Luthor, unlike his spawn, had a lot of hair that he probably did not appreciate having shaved off for admission to general-population prison in the season 3 finale. He DID say "thank you" - also they were playing Mozart's Requiem in a sort of death montage - as the BACKGROUND to the haircutting scene. Most epic haircut ever. It's intercut with shots of his son being poisoned, the key witness in his murder trial walking into a safe house and then having it explode spectacularly, Martha Kent finding a huge Kryptonian symbol burning in the field AND Jonathon Kent collapsed and possibly dying. Yeah, that's epic.
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1 with an Inferred Holocaust example, Daniel Jackson lost his long floppy hair with no explanation (and kept it that way for the rest of the series' run)... coinciding with waking up the prisoner of someone who actually had raped him once before.
  • In the first arc of the third season of Veronica Mars, there was a subplot about rapists cutting the hair off the girls they raped.
  • A Dutch girl guilty of sleeping with a Nazi, as referenced below under Truth in Television, gets her hair shaved by force in Band of Brothers.
  • Two episodes of The X-Files featured a necrophiliac serial killer obsessed with women's hair, which he would cut from his victims' bodies.
  • In the 2006 BBC Robin Hood series, Marian's hair is forcibly cut in front of the townspeople as punishment for defying the Sheriff. This overlaps somewhat with Important Haircut, since her tough "Night Watchman" persona comes more into focus afterwards.
  • British soap opera Hollyoaks had a storyline in which Amy Barnes was abused by her boyfriend, including him hacking off her Rapunzel Hair because he thought it made her look childish.
  • Subverted in 3rd Rock from the Sun when an upset girlfriend cuts off Tommy's ponytail and hands it to him before storming away. Tommy, an alien crammed into human form, reacts with something to the effect of "Wow, if I'd known I could get rid of that damn thing so easily I would have done it a long time ago!"
  • In Rome, Servilia of the Junii is knocked from her litter and is beaten, stripped naked, and has her hair cut with a dagger as an act of revenge from another character. The entire experience is clearly very traumatizing to her, and she spends several days recovering.
  • There's an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot where the Belgian detective gets into a bet with an equally arrogant French detective; if Poirot fails to solve the case first he has to cut off his moustache (the French detective would have to give up his trademark pipe). David Suchett is shown with a pair of scissors quivering at his upper lip at one point, but he rallies himself and wins the bet (magnanimously allowing to the loser to keep his pipe. "Because when you light it, you will think of Poirot.")
    • In the book The Big Four, he actually shaves his mustaches, when impersonating his imaginary brother Archille. Some fans theorize that because his mustache would not have been able to grow back afterward, the shaven man must really have been Archille...
  • In Salute Your Shorts, Budnick is briefly persuaded to let his love interest shorten his hair. But as he is led to the barber chair, he imagines it as an electric chair. After a few dramatized snips, he can't take it anymore.
  • Every season of America's Next Top Model has a "makeover" episode which involves every (surviving) contestant getting new hairstyles. At least one girl with long hair will have a crying fit when she finds out it's getting cut short.
    • There was one girl who defined herself by her long hair. Guess what they did? Cut it off. All of it. Because that was how she defined herself. The poor girl performed badly for the rest of the time she was on the show because she was so traumatized.
    • Season 5's Cassandra, whose hair was cut short (and never stopped complaining about it), quit the show when Tyra wanted to cut it even shorter.
    • Season 16 had the opposite case in Molly. The Diana Ross weave in the makeover episode irritated her scalp so much she was actually euphoric when she got her cut.
  • In Sherlock Holmes And The Leading Lady, Holmes cuts off part of Watson's mustache (over Watson's protests) so that he can impersonate Holmes' valet.
  • One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer deals with a frat house being haunted by ghosts of traumatized children. One of the things they were traumatized by was their caretaker chopping off the hair of girls she caught "preening."
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Barber", Jerry shaves the head of his Sitcom Arch Nemesis Newman as a form of revenge.
  • The reality series That'll Teach Em saw modern teenagers go to a 1950s style boarding school and on the first day, the boys had their hair cut into a short back and sides. The most memorable transformation was Brennon Gunston, a rocker with long blond hair who looked like a different person after getting it cut off. He ended up never finishing the series and left early on. Also the girls had to wear their hair in pigtails at the school but none of it was cut off.
  • The Spanish Game Show El Gran Juego de la Oca (The Great Game of the Goose) was a giant board game with each space on the board corresponding to a challenge of some sort. However one of the spaces was home to a demented barber. Whether you were male or female, getting one of three questions wrong (the third of which was always impossible to answer) resulted in your receiving an extreme haircut.
  • The Amazing Race used this as a Fast Forward challenge (a chance to get a big jump on other teams) twice; the first time, both team members who discovered it were professional models, and skipped back to the regular race rather than seriously damage a part of their professional image. Second time around, the guy in the couple was already bald, so it fell on his wife to bite the bullet. She went for it, and karma rewarded the team - they won the big million-dollar prize.
  • Played for laughs in Scrubs. Throughout the series, there are flashbacks to the two male leads' stay in college, all of which feature Chris Turk with an afro. In the last one, frustration over lost tickets to a basketball game causes Turk to start tearing his hair out in handfuls. At the end of the flashback, JD mentions that this is the reason Turk keeps his head shaved in the present.
  • An episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman had Robert E. and Grace being terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan. In one attack, a group of Klansmen surround Grace and hold her down while they cut her hair off.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand
    • The protagonist gets all his long shaggy hair hacked off down to the scalp at the start of episode two when he is purchased as a gladiator to make him look more presentable. Overlaps somewhat with Important Haircut as it is the first part of his induction as a gladiator as well as one of the steps the Romans use to Break the Haughty.
    • Pops up as part of a Bait and Switch in the second last episode of season 1. When it is revealed Naevia and Crixus have been sleeping together, Lucretia is seen attacking Naevia savagely in her chambers and asks for a servant to bring her a knife. Naevia is not seen for the rest of the episode implying she has been killed but she appears at the end scalped before being sent away from the ludus. Crixus gets his revenge in the next episode.
  • Conan O'Brien. Will Ferrell. "Beardpocalypse."
  • Played for laughs on Glee. In the first season, Puck shows up at school without hair. Turns out his mom found a spot on his head while washing his hair and forced him to go see a doctor. The doctor had to shave off Puck's beloved mohawk to be able to examine the spot, which turned out to be a harmless freckle. At first it's just a minor annoyance, until Puck gets to school and very quickly realizes that his badass reputation is in danger, as people seem to have lost their respect for him now that he no longer has badass hair.
  • In the third season of Beverly Hills 90210, Brenda imagines doing this to Kelly after having found out that Dylan cheated with her all summer while Brenda was in Paris.


Music

  • In the music video for Paramore's "Misery Business", a girl with a long, blonde plait has her braid cut off and presented to her by the bad girl. The blonde is horrified. The bad girls gets what's coming to her, though.
  • Happened to Metallica in 1996, resulting in their record "Load".
  • A military haircut underscores a young man's troubled relationship with his girlfriend in Green Day's music video for "Wake Me Up When September Ends."
  • Vocaloid has the song Witch, which features this in its video. When a Church Militant Prince (Gakupo) finds out from a young nun who loves him (Miku) that his girlfriend (Luka) is a Cute Witch, he cries Berserker Tears as he grabs the girlfriend by her long pink hair and then cuts it off with his sword.


Myth and Legend

  • One elaborate Norse myth cycle is touched off by Loki, god of being a dick, cutting off all of Sif's hair. This is part of Loki's eternal nettling of Thor, Sif's husband. The act has greater meaning because Norse societies punished unfaithful women by cutting their hair short. In some stories, it's implied that Loki raped Sif and then cut off all of her hair. Some time after the entire dispute is resolved and Thor is paid off, Loki gets really drunk and tells everyone that Sif seduced him. No other trickster god is near the Magnificent Bastard Loki is. Long story short: now we get earthquakes.
  • In Classical Mythology King Nisus of the Megarians had a red/purple lock of hair, which made him invincible. His daughter Scylla (not the one from The Odyssey) fell in love with the invading king, Minos, and cut it off to give to him. Unfortunately for her, Minos was utterly horrified at her lack of filial loyalty and ditched her. She and Nisus got turned into birds, forever predator and prey. That's the Greek version; there may be others. In some versions, it turns out yes, it is 'that Scylla'. You do not murder your father, dearie, there are consequences!
  • "Rapunzel". This was a deliberate attempt by the evil old crone to rob Rapunzel of the ability to snag herself a man... jealous old bitch.
  • In The Bible, after losing his precious locks to Delilah (and his godlike strength), Samson is captured by the Phillistines, has both eyes gouged out, and chained between two pillars to serve as entertainment at a party, making this trope Older Than Feudalism. In this case, it wasn't the hair itself that was the source of power -- God had decreed He would empower Samson so long as he followed the restrictions of a Nazarite, and Samson broke every single one of them -- getting his hair cut was the last straw, at which point God withdrew His blessing... until Samson asked forgiveness with genuine contrition and God gave him his strength back one last time, allowing Samson to have the last laugh against the Phillistines.


Professional Wrestling

  • The entire point of the Hair vs. Hair match, in which both participants put their hair, and thus the entirety of their dignity, on the line. Look for the loser to behave as if he's been through an exceptionally traumatic event, and attempt to cover up his shame with wigs, bandannas, and the like.
  • Paul Wight, wrestling under the name the Big Show, was shot with a tranquilizer dart and had his head shaved in the ring by Kurt Angle. Most disturbing was that Angle was making noises like he was getting off on it, though nothing explicitly sexual, while announcer Michael Cole went on and on about how Angle was "raping Big Show of his dignity". Repeatedly. For several weeks afterwards when referencing the event.
  • Before that, the Heenan Family "raped Andre the Giant of his dignity" when Big John Studd and Ken Patera cut off Andre's long hair. Not the only example, but maybe the most disturbing. There's also Edge (to a smaller degree) in WWE, Seth Skyfire/Chet the Jet in OVW and Erick Stevens in ROH.
  • Angle himself is a victim of this, having lost a Hair vs. Hair match to Edge. However, after a few weeks of embarrassing toupees, Angle has kept the look since.
  • One especially disturbing example was Roddy Piper shaving a struggling dwarf to resemble Mr. T, who he was feuding with at the time.
  • Roddy Piper was also involved in the incident which gave Brutus Beefcake the nickname "The Barber". Short version: Adrian Adonis cut Brutus's hair, essentially to be a dick. Piper (by this point a face) has his "retirement" match at Wrestlemania III with Adonis (Piper's retirement lasted less than two years). Piper beats Adonis with a sleeper hold, knocking him out, at which point Beefcake returns and shaves Adonis bald.
  • CM Punk, as the leader of the Straight Edge Society, had his "disciples" shave their heads as a sign of faith to the Straight Edge lifestyle, ended up a victim of this courtesy of the Big Show. Punk covered it up with a luchadore-esque mask, but ended up having that forcibly removed by Big Show during an episode of SmackDown. He's kept his hair short since then.[1]


Tabletop RPG

  • An incident like that started a war between the elves and dwarves in Warhammer: The elves had a dwarven emissary shaved, which became the famous last straw. The war has subsequently been known as the "War of Vengeance" to the dwarves, and the "War of the Beard" to anyone else currently out of dwarven earshot.
    • The ritual for becoming a Slayer in dwarven society implies shaving your head except for a huge mohawk and dyeing it orange, so that anyone can see at a glance your disgrace.


Vaudeville

  • Played for comedy by Harpo Marx, though he didn't limit himself to hair. A memorable example that made it to the movies appeared in A Night At The Opera.


Video Games

  Gabe: What? You were all thinking it.

  • A lock? Shit, he shaves that fucker bald.

 Player Character: I always shear my victims.

  • Taken in a silly direction in the laserdisc game Badlands. At one point, a scorpion leaps at Buck from atop a cactus. If he doesn't shoot it in time, it lands on his head and cuts his hair into a mohawk. It's hard to decide what's funnier -- the face Buck makes afterwards, or the fact that this costs you a life.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Some flashbacks from the Akaneia/Archanea games all but state that General Camus was subjected to one. Said scenes have the currently short-haired young man as a Long-Haired Pretty Boy before letting Princess Nyna escape to safety with Prince Hardin, and it's known that he was punished for such actions via imprisonment and Cold-Blooded Torture...
    • In Radiant Dawn, Lucia's Rapunzel Hair is cut off after she is captured by Ludveck. He hacks off a significant amount of the poor girl's hair for punishment, and as a threatening message to Queen Elincia, Lucia and her brother Geoffrey's lady-of-liege.
  • Not a haircut per se, but the Latex Babes in Space Quest 4 strap Roger down and threaten to very painfully shave his legs.

 Thoreen: Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine. This is the Epi-Rip 300, the most powerful hand hair remover in the galaxy, and it's capable of shaving your legs clean off!

  • One of the Death Course fights in World Heroes takes place in a fully normal arena. However, the after-fight character portrait of the loser will be shown with all of their hair shaved.


Webcomics

  • In Order of the Stick, Haley's Rival Crystal knocks Haley out, cuts off her ponytail with her dagger, then proceeds to trim off a good deal of the rest of her hair as well. Slightly subverted in that Haley isn't in fact very annoyed of the matter, as she's at least not going to let it distract her in the middle of battle. Interestingly enough, this makes Haley look like the earlier representative of her personality that wants to (paraphrase) "Stop all the emo stuff and get back to the jokes," who, along with self-reliance and optimism, gets Haley out of her depressed funk.
  • Everytime Lexx in Alien Dice rolls up a level, his hair grows out and sometimes changes color. He normally cuts it back to his normal, short, length, but he still sees it as a sign of one more situation he has no control over. Since his lack of personal freedom is a major part of his backstory, he's understandably very controlling about his hair.
  • Chel in Alien Dice has her waist-length hair cut when she is kidnapped. Soon after, she breaks a mirror to make a knife so that she can cut her hair further (removing a rat-tail that the kidnappers left) and re-assert her independence and control.
  • Charlie and Tom in Khaos Komix are attacked by a mob of their schoolmates after Charlie shows up in school in a girls' uniform, and during the beatdown, Charlie is given a choice: either she cuts her hair, or the ringleader's boyfriend vaginally rapes Tom.
  • In Lint by Colby Purcell, Al'bert du Fromage (the elvish noble and evil henchman) is obsessed with his long hair (particularly the single white strain) as a running gag. The hero once threatened to cut it off while questioning him, causing him to break immediately. Later, to punish his failure, his boss Lord Fang ordered his men to throw Al'bert in the dungeon and "... cut his hair too, would you?", prompting a "NOOOOOOOO!".
  • In what may be a rare male example, Bumper in Dominic Deegan becomes keen to genuinely hurt the eponymous seer after Dominic's actions result in Bumper losing his topknot.
  • In Strays, Meela's brother cuts her hair over her objections. She wants to go home. He wants them to pass as brothers instead of a brother and sister, which is how their enemies are looking for them.
  • April in College Roomies from Hell has her hair cut after she kills another character.
  • In Samurai Princess Jacquline gets one of these.


Web Original

  • Behind the Veil has a prime example. When Kathleen Allan sold her ex-husband to a Mage in exchange for another werewolf, she had little idea that his current lover Roxanne Pavlenco would take it so badly. Less than two hours later she found herself kidnapped by said lover, tied up and forcibly shaved when she wasn't forthcoming with who she sold him too.


Western Animation

  • In a Madeline movie, Lost In Paris, a child labor ring used haircuts as a threat to keep them in line. Tthe girls have to use their own hair to make lace afterward. Madeline does end up getting a chunk of her hair cut off in the climax, but it's fine again in the ending.
  • The deranged barber, Freaky Fred, from Courage the Cowardly Dog is very prone to lock raping when he's feeling particularly... naaauuuughty.
  • Powerpuff Girls
    • In "The Mane Event" Bubbles and Buttercup accidentally pull out a huge chunk of Blossom's hair while playing with it, and their attempts to fix their mistake were less than successfull, making her look like she lost a fight with a lawn mower. She eventually gets revenge on the other two by butchering their hair. It's all back to normal next episode.
    • In the World Premier Toons pilot, "Meat Fuzzy Lumkins," Bubbles has one pigtail turned into a drumstick by Fuzzy's Meat Ray. This proves ill for Fuzzy Lumkins.
  • The Simpsons
    • Lisa gets a large wad of gum in her hair and people spend the rest of the episode trying homespun recipes to get it out (honey, peanut butter, etc). Finally she gives up and goes to a barber, who tells her he understands how important a girl's hair is. Cue the next shot, where he's just shaved that part of her head. And then next shot, where Lisa has a nice hairstyle. "I look like a real person!". Then Lisa goes outside and immediately Nelson goes "Haw haw!" at her; she sticks a bobble-hat over her head to hide her cool new hairstyle, suddenly and inexplicably ashamed of what she had liked just moments before.
    • In a season 4 episode, during a flashback, two-year-old Bart, jealous of all the attention Lisa is getting cuts off all her hair. "Who's cuter now?"
    • In the episode "Simpson Tide", Homer tries to avoid getting his head shaven after joining the US Navy Reserve. He isn't successful and is left holding the few strands of hair in his hands.

  Homer: Ohh, I'm a freak!

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • At the beginning of the second season when Zuko and Iroh are forced to go on the run from Azula, they are required to cut off their ponytail and top knot to hide the fact that they are Fire Nation from the Earth Kingdom populace they intend to hide amongst. Although they are cutting off their own hair, the gravity with which the act is performed (combined with the obvious cultural relevence of the hairstyle since virtually every Fire Nation person is seen to have it) makes it clear that the act is a symbolic acknowledgement of the fact that they will never be able to return to their homeland.
    • Azula gets one in the season finale. Self-inflicted and a sign that she just went way off the deep end.
  • Averted (or ignored, either way it's notable) in Samurai Jack, where normally, as noted below, a samurai would kill himself if he lost his topknot. For Jack it just turns him into a Badass Long Hair.
  • In an episode of Rugrats, Chuckie had to get his hair cut. Since he's two and a coward, he didn't want one. It didn't help that Angelica terrified him into believing that a hair cut involves having every one of his hairs pulled out by the roots.
  • An episode of Ka Blam!! begins with Henry coming in embarrassed about his new haircut. So someone decides to uh..."fix it". The someone? June.
  • King of the Hill - Hank and his friends have to get their heads shaved after Bill infests them with head lice.
    • In the third season opener Luanne gets her hair burned off in the propane explosion, she actually spends most of the season with short hair until it eventually grows back to it's previous length.
    • Also it appears all the new recruits Bill shaves are often crying when he does so. Ironically the people in line laugh at the one crying, despite the fact the same thing will be happening to them soon.
  • Near the end of Total Drama Island, Heather's hair is forcibly shaved off. She is not pleased. Afterwards, she spends the entire second season bald and the third season with her hair only partially grown back. Also in the third season finale Sierra gets her hair burned off in the plane explosion.
  • In the time travel episode of Sonic Sat AM, Sonic runs into a younger version of Snively with a full head of hair. He cockily introduces himself and speeds off, blowing Snively's hair away. It's apparently then that he decides he hates Sonic.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius got his horns roughly cut off thanks to Jimmy, resulting in him sobbing for a good deal of the episode. Another episode had this actually happen with his hair...his four tiny, microscopic hairs. It seems to have the same effect on him.


Real Life

  • Shaving a woman's hair, or cutting it short, used to be a humiliating punishment for a very long time in many cultures, including Europe; in parts of Europe, a woman with short hair was often thought to be scandalous sight even in the early 20th century.
    • It was usually used as punishment for adultery. It was as traumatic as having the word 'whore' tattooed on your forehead.
  • World War II collaborators (generally women who had sex with Germans) usually had their heads shaved once the Nazis were kicked out of the town. The reason women were the main target of revenge-minded mobs in newly-liberated areas was because most of the serious collaborators (officials, company heads, officers, local right-wing party members etc.) had already been arrested by their governments for treason, and were awaiting sentence.
    • The Nazis were themselves fond of doing this to those consigned to concentration and death camps during the Holocaust, though that was mostly a matter of lice control, or, in some cases, to make pillow stuffing, woven fabrics or boot lining. Discarded hair from ordinary barbershops was also collected for the same purposes.
    • There was also the generally antisemitic practice of cutting off the peyes, or religiously significant side-curls and beards of Orthodox Jewish men.
  • And according to this article in The Other Wiki, forced/required head shaving is used on prisoners and U.S. Marine Corps recruits, though for the latter it's probably more of an Important Haircut.
    • The Important Haircut variant is common to all branches. Army recruits have the "barely there" shave until the end of Basic. Also called 'peeling your scalp'. Drill sergeants intentionally invoke this trope as part of your introductory hazing. The more hair you arrive with, the more malicious glee they, and the barber, take in rubbing your nose in it.
    • Female Officer Candidates in Navy OCS get an Important Haircut upon enrollment. They have their hair shorn down to less than two inches; this is singular in the US military, where most of the time women are required only to wear their hair off their collar and out of their face. Male OCs get the typical "high and tight" described by the Marine above. Females entering the U.S. Naval Academy also receive this haircut.
    • In countries with conscription, like Russia (where it is especially hated) army hair cuts are truly a Traumatic Haircut.
  • The Qing Dynasty was ruled by the Manchurians, who forced the Chinese to shave their foreheads and have a ponytail, called a queue, which became the stereotypical hairstyle of the Orient back in those days. Losing the ponytail was not only a loss of honor, but also punishable by death.
    • As such, you can imagine why people were frightened when they heard stories about sorcerers or secret societies traveling about stealing queues.
    • Given that Han Chinese hated the queue requirement across the board it would probably be better to say that having the hair cut (and shaved forehead that went with it) was the real dishonor. Cutting it off became the definitive method of declaring oneself a rebel against the Qing. And again, a declaration that others could make for one.
    • When Han Chinese came to the U.S., they were often worried about cutting off their queues because once they did so, it would be impossible to return to their homeland. Cutting off the hair of a railroad worker often meant they could never escape their lot in life. The richer, western-educated Chinese would often have a wig made with queue, for ease of travel within China.
  • Back in the day when the Rastafari were persecuted in Jamaica, cutting off their dreadlocks was a common nasty trick the police would do to them.
  • During Genghis Khan's rule of Mongolia, he sent envoys to attempt to open trade with a neighboring nation. Even after being rebuked with violence, he tried again and did not retaliate until his envoy had his beard forcibly shaved as a method of humiliation, and was sent back home. Khan then declared war. And proceeded to wipe the country out. The Mongols took the concept of diplomatic immunity very seriously and humiliating or mistreating an ambassador in such a manner was tantamount to a declaration of war.
    • A similar incident happened in the Bible to envoys sent by King David to the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10). In that case, the envoys only lost half of their beards ... but they also lost the bottom half of their garments. The Ammonites came to regret their decision.
  • In ancient Japan, a woman's hair was considered one of her greatest treasures. Cutting her hair off against her will was considered to be on a level with raping her. So when it happens in anime it is significant by Japanese cultural standards (example: early in Yu Yu Hakusho, when Keiko enters Yusuke's burning house to save his still dead body. While she succeeds, Koenma states that, in return for saving her life, he had to take something away from her body. That, as it turns out, was her then.long hair - handwaved in which the fire had burned the hair at its tips, so they had to be cut off already. Yusuke gets pretty mad at Koenma when he sees this).
    • It's worth noting that in Japan, if a woman is raped she's considered dishonored and unfit for marriage, and will most likely commit suicide. Or move to another, more lenient country and cut off all contact with her friends and family. At least, that's the way things used to be.
    • Not just the women. If a samurai lost his topknot in a fight it was considered far worse than losing his head, and he'd have to commit Seppuku to regain his honor. The movie "Hara Kiri" explores this and other samurai rules of honor in depth (and the hypocrisy in which the rules were often applied).
    • Similarly, wearing one's hair in intricate braids was required among European women of standing, with only children wearing their hair simply. As having all those braids required long hair, cutting a woman's hair functioned to force her into an immature appearance.
  • Chinese general Cao Cao once violated his own orders when he carelessly allowed his horse to trample some crops; legend claims that he actually ordered himself beheaded, but his officers protested the order and he merely had his head shaved as a symbolic "beheading."
  • Cutting the hair of a Sikh, who for religious reasons do not cut their hair or shave (although they wear turbans, so people in public never actually see their hair), can be considered a hate crime, because of the significance of it.
  • It can happen that people who sport real-life Rapunzel Hair, which naturally requires a great deal of upkeep, may enter a period where they can no longer care for it -- for example, falling into a deep depression with accompanying self-neglect that includes the hair -- and as a result, the hair becomes unsalvageable and must be cut, sometimes only short, sometimes almost shaved off. Being that someone who puts in the effort to care for Rapunzel Hair is probably very attached to it, no matter how necessary the shearing can be, it is agonizing.
  • A law in Wisconsin makes it illegal to cut a woman's hair.
  • In the African American Community, a black woman cutting off her long, so called good hair is considered a tragedy.
  • The kings of the Merovingian Dynasty that ruled the medieval Frankish Empire traditionally had long hair. When the last Merovingian king, Childeric III was dethroned by his mayor of the palace, Pepin the Short, he was sent to a monastery and tonsured, thus symbolically deprived of his royal powers.
  • Patients about to go through chemotherapy for cancer will often shave their hair before hand, as the treatment is notorious for losing hair. This is often and understandably traumatic for the patient (ESPECIALLY if the patient is a woman) and for the family and friends, because it really confirms the patient's illness. It's not uncommon for family and friends to also shave their heads in solidarity with the patient.
  • While not an actual hair cut, there was an incident a few years ago when some high school kids held down a girl (who was popular because of her long hair) and spread Nair (hair remover) on her head.
  • In Argentina there was a show called El Último Pasajero (The Last Passenger) in which two groups of teenagers in their last high school years competed for a graduation trip for the whole class division, which is a tradition between Argentinian students. One of the games, and the most viewed, consisted in a member of one team selecting someone from the opposite team, normally a pretty girl with long hair, in order to get him/her a horrible haircut. The teen could refuse but their classmates made that choice rather difficult, by insisting and treating the girl as a traitor if she didn't acced to the task. Most of the girls who acceded to cut their hair ended up crying.
    • The show was sold to other TV stations outside of Argentina, and the game was kept in at least the Chilean and Peruvian versions.
  • A vital stage of nuclear decontamination is shaving off not just hair on the head, but all hair everywhere on the body, because radioactive particles often cling to hair, and the only way guarantee that it's been removed to prevent further harm is to shave off all hair, as well as removing and burying all clothing and jewelry which is also contaminated, and scrubbing all skin with a rough brush to remove flakes of skin that are also likely contaminated.
  • Peter the Great of Russia, as one step of modernizing his empire made all state officials shave their beards off. For those who especially resisted he would come himself and cut their beards off with an axe with his own hands.
  • In Chile, a 14-year-old schoolgirl wearing two very long and noticeable braids is questioned about it by her teacher. She doesn't pay attention, so the teacher forcibly takes her to the teacher's room and cuts them off. The poor girl is traumatised, the parents are understandably pissed off, and the case reaches public attention.
  • In the 19th century, the American government was dead-set on assimilating Native Americans into white society. One of these steps was sending thousands of American Indian children to boarding schools where they were "assimilated" through a variety of steps that directly interfered with their religious and cultural practices, a common one of which was only cutting one's hair in the event of grief or shame. When the children were subjected to forcible cutting of their braids, they were very traumatized indeed.
  • In the book Siblings Without Rivalry, the authors recount an incident of this that happened to one of the members of their support group for parents trying to improve their parenting techniques. The parent in question had curly hair that she was proud of, but her sister was jealous of. As a result, the parent's mother took her to the barber and had all her hair cut off.
  • A couple of years ago, in Portland, Oregon, there was a guy who sat behind women on the bus and cut off their hair or put glue in it.
  • Katee Sackhoff cut off her own hair with a knife on-camera in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Even though the haircut in the story was a way for her character to return to her old self ( in-universe it was a trope inversion - the character had had short hair before, and the long hair was the symbol of trauma and misery for her, therefore the need to cut it) , Katee cried afterwards, especially since she'd been forced to keep her hair short earlier to play Starbuck - by the time the fourth season came around, she flatly refused to cut her hair any shorter for the role and her character stayed long-haired.
  • Female murder victims (for example, the Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, teenagers murdered by Canadian serial rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo and his wife Karla Homolka) are sometimes found with their hair cut, as a means of further humiliating them.
  • Inverted with Lily Sastry Atkinson.
  • In Venezuela, there was a time when long-haired women were subjected to this by people looking to sell their hair.

Notes

  1. It's grown out quite a bit, but not to the length that he had it during the SES days.
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