What Can I Say to Strangers Who Make Rude Comments About My Haircut?

Real Simple etiquette expert, Catherine Newman on how to deal with unwanted attention.

Brunette model with tousled pixie cutElinor Carucci

Q: I am a 27-year-old woman who has had a pixie cut since I was about 19. Over the years, I have gotten many rude comments from people regarding my hairstyle (mainly men making inappropriate remarks that I will not repeat but will leave to your imagination). How can I respond to people who do this? Also, what should I say to friends who urge me to grow my hair out?

B.B.

A: I couldn’t resist sharing your question with my 10-year-old daughter, who also has a pixie cut. She was appalled by your nay-saying friends and suggested that you try what she says: “I love my hair this way. It keeps me cool, and I like how it looks. Please be a good friend and support my choices.” Frankly, that advice seems unbeatable. But if you’re getting these comments from a friend who knew you with longer hair, you can always tell her, “Oh, I know, you liked it long.”

Strangers, on the other hand, have no business commenting on your appearance. Feel free to ignore them. (In my opinion, you can even be snarky with them, if you don’t mind provoking a hostile response.)

In the end, you’re not looking for advice or feedback about your hair—or to be constrained by other people’s ideas about beauty. (And—hello!—have these people ever seen Halle Berry?) People are welcome to their opinions but not always welcome to express every last one. Sometimes the old-fashioned rules still hold. In this case: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

—Catherine Newman

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