When I was in the fifth grade, I had very long and very curly hair. I was also a little tomboy, wore mostly oversize boy's clothing, no jewelry, and scorned all things "girly." Secretly, though, I was jealous of all those pretty girls in my class, so when just about every girl decided to chop her hair into an adorable chin-length bob, I followed suit. But my hair, curly and thick as it was, was not adorable -- it was just triangular.

The hairdresser explained that the only way to get my hair to not be so curly and "pouffy" was to cut it really short. I told her to do it. Twenty minutes later marks the only time I openly cried in a barber's chair. My attempt to be more like the other girls left me looking like a boy.

I spent the next year explaining to substitute teachers that lining up along with the girls didn't mean I was a wiseass -- it meant I was a girl. I barely suppressed tears as my parents told casual acquaintances that, no, they actually didn't have a son. And I constantly willed my hair to grow faster.

The experience left me terrified of short hair. For the next 12 years, it was rare that my mane would even creep up to my shoulders. I -- though certainly not my hairdresser -- became an ardent fan of the semi-annual haircut. So my hair was long, but it spent most of its time in what a friend of mine dubbed, "a sad little bun."

Then I graduated, turned 22, and when everyone thought I was younger than my 19-year-old sister, I knew I needed a change.

My preoccupation with pixie cuts began years earlier with Natalie Portman's look, but, I reasoned then, just because Natalie could pull it off didn't mean I could. Then Keira Knightley did it, and once again I feared I wouldn't pull it off. But now I was in the market for a haircut that implied that my look was intentional, perhaps even stylish. And when I saw photos of Audrey Tautou's jaunty little cut, I knew my own was inevitable. Audrey Tautou's adorable pixie cut

I looked at Web sites that warned me and my apparently square face against short hair, claiming it would make me look too boxy and manly. I was worried, but the allure was too great. My body's not 10 years old, I figured -- this time around people will get that I'm not a boy. I did, however, make a pact with myself to stop with the daily flannel.

Still, though, I had to be pushed. I went to my hairdresser to get a trim, and when I told him I was thinking of getting a pixie cut -- at some point in the future -- he shot back, "If not today, then when?" Together, we flipped through magazines and came up with my own personal pixie: not as short as Mia Farrow's, not as Caesar-esque as Natalie Portman's, not as straight as Katie Holmes's or as harsh as Victoria Beckham's. Long and wavy on top -- to keep that funny curl on my forehead -- but close-cropped on the sides and back.

I loved it immediately, and my affection for it has grown every day since.

But then there's this: Men love long hair on girls. Before I cut my hair, I'd read an article about a girl who chopped off all her locks, only to have her boyfriend admit to being less attracted to her, which led to their eventual breakup. Straight men as a whole were less interested in her but, she conceded, her style cred with the gay set was way up.

Well, I'm here to say that guys, at least the ones you want to be with, are much more open-minded than that writer's ex, and that boyfriends, in my experience, do not come and go with your hairstyles. Besides, short hair is sexy. It exudes a confident yet careless femininity. Think Edie Sedgwick, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg. You're suddenly, effortlessly, deceptively French, which is never a bad thing.

Because of my short hair, I feel like I am always a little more pulled-together than I was before -- like there is something more polished and purposeful and adult about me. And your style stock does skyrocket. But the best part is that the daily maintenance is so damned easy: No one had ever complimented me on my haphazard and sickly bun (and rightfully so!), but as soon as I cut my hair, strangers stopped me to tell me that they liked my haircut.

In fact, one day, as I sat on a fence in a park eating an apple, two women asked to photograph me for a Brazilian fashion magazine. (I was too shocked, and their accents were too thick for me to remember the name of the magazine, but if I had, you can bet that the link would be right here.) And in case you're still worried about the boys, in the span of five minutes, two separate waiters at a popular cafe in lower Manhattan approached me just to say how great my haircut was.

"Thanks," is what I said, but what I thought was, I know.

Stefanie Demas graduated from Skidmore College in 2009. Her most recent article was published in the New York Press. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and no longer wills her hair to grow faster.



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