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A cut above the rest

Kerry McKittrick and Roisin Delaney find out if NI women envy Beyonce's startling new pixie hairstyle

Who can forget the images of Beyonce writhing around in her pop videos, blonde locks flying. Now Mrs Carter has stunned the world and sacrificed her golden tresses for a neat pixie crop– although apparently they were usually hair extensions anyway.

Beyonce is by no means the first A-lister to go for a shorter look. Actresses Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway both shaved their heads for film roles. Miley Cyrus went for a short, bleached long look and stars such as Halle Berry and Rihanna have both been rocking the crop for some time now.

Some argue that the flowing tresses sported by the likes of Cheryl Cole and Kelly Brook are softer and more feminine. Others argue that going for the chops can show off women's faces and confidence.

Britney Spears was spiralling into a nervous breakdown when she walked in to a Los Angeles hair salon and shaved her head a few years ago – the blonde bombshell pop princess was no more.

We talk to four local women whose hair has been both long and short about the highs and lows of hair length.

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Carrie: 'I've always felt look is more me'

Carrie Neely (39) is an art consultant. She lives in Belfast with her husband Rob and three children, Jaxon (7), Marley (5) and Nainsi (3). She says:

The first time I had my hair cropped short was when I got chewing gum in it when I was seven years old. It was only in a bun before that so I wasn't too upset about it.

The next time I got it cropped was when I was 14 and during my teens and 20s it went up and down and changed colour a lot. I did a bit of hair modelling and let them do whatever they liked so it might be longer on one side with bright streaks though it.

I tend to keep going back to the crop though. It's always felt more me. I still go through phases when I grow my hair long. The last time ended about five years ago when I was pregnant with my second child and came back to Northern Ireland. I cut it short again when I was eight months pregnant which surprised people who hadn't seen me with it short for a long time.

I think some women look fantastic with their hair cut short but you do need to have the right look for it. I think Victoria Beckham looked great when she did it and Rihanna really suits hers. I'm not sure if it really works for Anne Hathaway though.

Even if some people think it's more feminine to have long hair, I don't feel like me unless mine is cropped.

My husband had longer hair than I did when we met and he had never seen it short. I think he likes my hair the way it is but I think as long as I'm happy with the way I look then he's happy."


Laura: 'I went to a salon run by transvestites'

Cut above : Laura Pay, before and after Laura Pay (23) is an anthropology graduate and lives in Belfast. She says:

I first had my hair cropped in 2009 but it took me quite a while to work my way up to it. I kept looking at pictures of crops and asking friends and family if they thought it would suit me.

I went to visit my sister in Brighton and walked past this really funky hair salon run by transvestites and thought if I was going to get a funky cut then that's the kind of place I should get it done.

I had shoulder-length hair at the time and as soon as the hairdresser chopped off my pony tail you could see the cut change the shape of my face and bring out my chin and cheek bones. I went shorter and shorter and loved the cut – so did everyone else. My mum liked it and so did my boyfriend at the time. No guy has ever said he didn't like my haircut except my granddad. He said he preferred women with long hair.

I saw an interview with a fashion designer once about women with short hair. He said he found them really sexy because they had the confidence to chop their hair off and not be defined by their tresses. I don't think Beyonce's crop particularly suits her though. I think Pixie Geldof has a fantastic crop though.

I grew it out after I saw my sister at her graduation. Her university still use mortarboards with their graduation gowns and the more I thought about it the stranger I thought I would look with short hair under a mortarboard. My graduation was the next year so I started to grow out my hair.

I graduated last year – they don't even use mortarboards at Queen's – and I still haven't cut my hair so it's currently shoulder length.

I will absolutely get the crop again. I loved it."


Jessica: 'Men don't seem to like my hair short'

Jessica Odell (37) is a private tutor and lives in Lisburn. She says:

I got my hair cut first when I was nine, then again at 12 or 13. I've had it long a few times over the years. I'll grow my hair then just get fed up with it. I've had all kinds of cuts like the pixie cut or the very short bob with a buzz cut up the back.

Hairdressers don't like to cut your hair like that. I would put it into a ponytail then walk in and ask them to cut it off – it made them a bit nervous. Men don't seem to like me with short hair either. My ex-husband always asked me to grow my hair long and others I've shown pictures to always say they prefer me with long hair. At the moment it's touching my shoulders – I got it cut really short two years ago for a friend's wedding and I haven't touched it since.

I think Beyonce's hair is like mine and I think that her face is feminine enough for her to carry it off. It's so much easier to manage when it's short. You use next to no shampoo and it takes hardly any time to dry. It takes five minutes before you're out the door."


Danielle:'Short style boosts my confidence'

Danielle Todd (24) is an accountant in Belfast from Co Antrim and is currently single. She says:

I got my hair cut on Sunday. I've always had long hair so it's a big change. My hair had been so long up until this point that it was touching the top of my waist. As well as the length it was really thick so it took a lot of effort to wash and dry and style it.

This was a big decision for me and I thought about it long and hard. I thought about it for four months and then last Friday I was washing my hair and thought to myself, this will be my last time going through this time-consuming process. So I finally got up the courage to have it all chopped off. Now my hair is a lot easier to manage. There's not as much effort needed and I'll be saving so much time in the mornings.

In the last year or so there has been a huge increase in the number of female celebrities changing from long to short hair.

I remember admiring Charlize Theron's look but Frankie Sandford from The Saturdays is one person whose image I really admire and that's why I went for something similar to her style.

I think I prefer my new style to my old look of long, thick hair. I know I've just got it done a couple of days ago but I'm pretty used it it already.

You could say it's given me a confidence boost but to be honest I had been thinking about getting it done for so long I'm just happy with myself that I finally went for it.

More than anything else, on a personal level it's made me happy that it suits me and I'm happy with it. I've heard nothing but good things from my family and friends so that's made me feel really positive about the change too.

I once thought about going for the extremely short cut but I don't think I'm ready for that yet, it would be a bit of a shock.

I've seen two photographs of Beyonce's new style. I don't like it because it's a little bit too drastic.

Maybe once it grows a little she might make some adjustments.

'A good cut if it fits'

Suzan Manning (below) from Zuni Hair on Belfast's Botanic Avenue says:

I like Beyonce's short hair. She probably has worn a lot of weave or extensions until now so we're really just seeing her natural hair for the first time. I think it could be styled up with a bit of product but otherwise it's great.

Short hair is coming back on trend so you see women like Miley Cyrus, Halle Berry and Victoria Beckham with it. You need the right shape face for it though – delicate and elfin. Long hair won't go out of trend because girls will always have the safety blanket of their hair but it's nice for people to have short hair as a trendy option as it hasn't been in for a while."


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