|Maggie Gyllenhaal in Sherry Baby (2006)|
|Sally Field in Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring|
|Geena Davis in Angie (1999)|
|Katherine Hepburn Sylvia Scarlett (1935)|
|Salma Hayek in Frida (2002)|
|Dakota Fanning in The Runaways (2010)|
|Often in these films an important image is the humiliating 'after' shot of the self cutting. This display of the female protagonist at her ugliest is a central component of this act of ritual shaming. The visual says "if your beauty made you powerful, then your ugliness will break you," thus paving the way for the redemption story that inevitably follows.|
Eva Green in Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
|A closely related convention is the act of shaving one's head. Shaving lacks the drama of scissor cutting. The tension in wondering if the protagonist is going to cut her own face is absent but it is a more thorough and dogged approach to self transformation. |
Here is Cameron Diaz shaving herself in My Sister's Keeper (2009).
For self cutting afficionados filmic depictions of hair shaving are considered the 'real deal' as an actress can fake a scissored self cut but you can't fake a hair shaving scene. Also with a shaving scene (especially one featuring an A-list actress) the footage must be collected in one take, adding 'realness' to any given sequence. In this fecund estuary of tonsorial fetishism, the stinkiest pool of desire is considered to be Demi Moore's scene in Ridley Scott's G.I. Jane.
This film is also notable for featuring Moore's personal catchphrase. (clip might be NSFW)
The most hardcore are the chicks who hack away their femininity with swords. You know these Ladies of the Sword are really serious because they take time out of their busy battle schedules for an extreme makeover. Nothing says 'Fuck You' as eloquently as cutting your hair with your weapon of choice.
Below is Mulan - Disney's lady warrior from the animated film Mulan. In the film Mulan dreams of joining the army so must 'pass' as a boy to gain the training she needs. This film has been denounced by feminists for its stereotyping of female domestic passivity.
Mulan clearly doesn't suffer from these issues as she ends up looking like a hot femme-y soldier by cutting her own hair. Soundtrack by Christina Aguilera. Haircut by Mulan.
Below is a screen cap from Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc starring Milla Jovavich. This is perhaps Jovavich's finest role as she is merely required to stagger around moaning and yelping for two hours, looking like a damaged supermodel to show the audience that she is being tortured by Very Real Religious Conviction.
In the film Joan hears Voices; They tell her to raise an army, They tell her to ride to Orlean, They tell her to cut her own hair with a sword.