Meesha Shafi and Syra Shahroz weren't afraid to go short
Meesha Shafi and Syra Shahroz weren't afraid to go short

Kylie Jenner’s sporting a sleek new bob – but we expect plenty of hair changes from someone who snapchatted a closet full of wigs. But would a Pakistani star find going for the chop a liability?

Like a prospective mother-in-law, the Pakistani public does seem a little fixated on long hair – and that’s probably why heroines almost always have flowing locks.

Once you move away from stereotypical screen heroines, Pakistani women have been rocking cropped locks for years in the fashion and entertainment industries. Marina Khan had relatively short hair in Tanhaiyan but went super short in Dhoop Kinare.

Yeah well, this was fashionable back in the 80s
Yeah well, this was fashionable back in the 80s

Several of yesteryear’s stars such as Babra Sharif and Atiqa Odho now sport sleek short cuts. The doyenne of fashion, Maheen Khan, is instantly recognizable thanks to her undyed, elfin cut.

She once said in an interview, “I have often thought that the best thing a woman can do for herself is change. Don’t live in a time warp with the same hair, makeup, wardrobe. But having said this, leaving my hair naturally grey was a milestone in my life. I shed a lot of “trying to look young baggage” along with my dyed hair and long locks. I feel free.”

Maheen Khan's salt and pepper mane has always made her stand out
Maheen Khan's salt and pepper mane has always made her stand out

But younger stars have also taken the plunge. From Sanam Saeed to Cybil Chowdry, going super-short is something many have experimented with. Syra Sheroze even sported a cute bob at her wedding.

Tabesh Khoja, senior stylist at Nabila N-Pro, thinks it’s important for celebrities to experiment.

“Celebrities are trendsetters and when they do something fresh and exciting with their hair, it encourages the general public to experiment too. There are so many ways to rock short hair, from pixie cuts, to bobs, lobs and shoulder-length cuts. I feel in general, people in Pakistan are too conservative with their hair, sticking to the same long, extenso-ed look, and that this restricts people’s overall style.”

Tabesh asserts with that with quality of extensions now available, it’s perfectly possible to still accept the “pyari si beti” type roles. N-Pro is the go-to salon for most models and actresses and Tabesh has worked with models and actresses such as Fia Khan and Nausheen Shah, both of whom currently have short hair.

Pictured left to right: Nausheen Shah and Fia Khan
Pictured left to right: Nausheen Shah and Fia Khan

“When Fia or Nausheen need long hair for a shoot, commercial or serial, we put in extensions for them.”

Actress Sanam Saeed echoes this view,

“I don’t think it’s necessary to stick to any particular look in the hopes of landing a role. Almost anything is possible with extensions.”

Nevertheless, Tabesh agrees that actresses in general are hesitant to experiment. Wigs and extensions can help but at the end of the day, many feel that lambi zulfein are a pre-requisite to be the nation’s sweetheart.

“There is that fear factor among actresses, many feel that they will lose out on leading roles with short hair. Also extensions are high maintainence – if you are using them, you need an experienced stylist on hand at all times during a shoot as not everyone can handle them correctly.”

The other issue is that not everyone can pull off short hair.

“Once you crop your hair, it brings the focus to your face. You need personality to carry off many shorter looks. Ayesha Omer is one celebrity I would love to see with shorter hair. She once wore a pixie wig at one of Nabila’s parties and looked simply stunning.”

Okay, okay, it's a wig.
Okay, okay, it's a wig.

Although long hair (discreetly augmented with extensions) has been a celebrity mainstay for several years all over the world, there’s no denying that shorter hair does give an edgier, cooler look.

If you’re very young, short hair can make you look older and more sophisticated while if you’re older, chopping your hair can help you look younger and fresher. Hadiqa Kiani, for example, has given herself a funkier look with spiky layered crops in recent years.

Hadiqa Kiani is one celeb who keeps going shorter
Hadiqa Kiani is one celeb who keeps going shorter

Models and singers changing up their hair can probably boost their popularity but actresses still hesitate unless it’s for a specific role. As long as the vast majority of female lead roles still conform to stereotypical notions of beauty, this is unlikely to change.

It’s a catch-22 because unless celebrities spearhead trends, the public will remain doubtful about shorter cuts. With the celebrity sphere burgeoning in Pakistan, hopefully some stars will make bold hair choices to stand out. If Kylie Jenner’s popularity is anything to go by, changing things up can only be a good thing.


Salima Feerasta is a freelance journalist and the creative force behind style blog karachista.com. Follow her on Twitter @karachista.

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