David Beckham, Harry Styles, and Justin Bieber Understand the Power of the Big Haircut

Dudes are always looking for new ways to reinvent themselves, from bulking to pivoting to guy with big shearling coat. If you find yourself in need of such a life-changing alteration, might I suggest: a Big Haircut.

The Big Haircut is a method that’s worked wonders for generations of men, from David Beckham to Harry Styles, who want to embrace the transformative change of a quick trim.

Florido Basallo, who has been tending to Justin Bieber’s versatile ‘do for over a decade, knew he was making haircut history when Bieber ditched his swoop in 2011. As he brought the Biebs’ locs era to an end at a tour stop in Washington D.C., he reached down to the floor and made sure to scoop up a memento. Basallo still has one of Bieber’s locs—he plans to make a scrapbook someday, or maybe knot it into something to create a rabbit’s foot-style talisman (the Ring for Tiger Beat readers). That’s because while everyday folk use the Big Haircut as job interview prep, a famous person’s new look can cause mass panic, shift culture, and serve as the spring pad for a rebrand.

The haircut’s power was never more evident than it was in the recent Netflix documentary Beckham, which followed David and wife Victoria through their ‘90s heyday. David’s haircuts had the potency of illicit drugs: they aggravated the adults in his life (his coach Sir Alex Ferguson was pissed) and when kids tried to follow suit their schools banned them, according to the documentary.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Dave Hogan/Getty Images

People have been getting upset about haircuts since famous people had hair. Take Mary Pickford, a star of the silent film era, who cut her famous girlish ringlets in 1928 in favor of a long bob—her actions made the front page of The New York Times the next day. The public criticized her and even her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, sobbed at the sight of the new Mary.

“You would have thought I had murdered someone,” Pickford later said, “and perhaps I had.” (Death, strangely enough, comes up a lot when talking transformative haircuts. One of the bumbling paparazzo who followed the soccer star confessed, “When David Beckham shaved his head, I honestly thought a member of my family had died because my phone went off.”) But Beckham and Pickford both realized that these metaphorical deaths were necessary for their rebirth. Victoria said of Beckham’s sheared head that he was “flexing his muscles” as he went “from a boy to a man.”

Unlike a quick clean-up, the shaved head is a particularly legible change. Famous hair-havers like Beckham and Bieber used it much like Pickford, to signal they’re public transformation from coquettish child to sexy grown-up. Justin Timberlake did the same as he broke free from N’Sync and buzzed off those bleached curls. Robert Pattinson got a buzz after he fulfilled his Twilight duties. Odell Beckham Jr. cut his famous bleached hair down to the roots after he was traded from the New York Giants. For Styles, the change was occasioned, naturally, by the most transitory moment of a celebrity’s career: the launch of his fragrance line. The buzzcut can also function as a revelation of hotness: girls on TikTok are currently going feral for the moment Tom Blyth buzzes his head in the new Hunger Games (it’s the taking-off-the-glasses moment for dudes who rock).

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