I enjoy this cliché when done right. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. But it’s also a bit overused and tiring.
So here is an alternative:
Show a character with long hair, that she loves and takes care. Brushes it, washes it, always extra careful to put it in a bun before battle so it won’t get in the way. But that bun comes undone and it becomes knotted and matted and obviously going to a stylist is not an option. Leaving them no other option but to cut it short. (Really it can get ruined in any way, perhaps they were captured and it got ruined there? Perhaps they fell into some mud during what was supposed to be a casual day? The sky’s the limit, or space if you’re into sci-fi).
It adds a different emotional value to the action. Depending on the character you can show them crying as they cut it, staring at their reflection unhappy with the outcome. Have other character’s try to console them, tell them they’re beautiful still.
But it’s not about being beautiful. They liked their hair. They loved it even. And it’ll take years to grow back. They don’t even know if they’ll survive that long. Lots of fantasy character’s don’t.
Not everything had to be an act of rebellion. Sometimes things just happen.
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What’s your favourite hair cutting moment in media? It may be obvious and easy but I don’t think anything will ever beat Mulan for me.