Dee insisted on having her long hair cut to shoulder length just before the start of the current school year. I quizzed her extensively right up until the stylists began shearing because Dee’s hair has always been long and I wanted no teary trauma in the aftermath.
But she has been quite chipper and pleased with her shorter do. I don’t see her growing it out again and in her dream world, it would be shorter. She balks at pixies only because her curl would never succumb and she isn’t a fan of fussing with her tresses.
I admit to toying with the idea of cutting my hair as I watch my daughter delight in her new look. Aside from the curl, our hair is not of similar texture or thickness. My locks are dense, coarse and the only way I could go short without adding fuss time to my daily routine would be to have myself sheered like a sheep.
And then there’s the whole aversion to short hair thing I have.
Part of it stems from my parents’ stubborn insistence that I have short hair as I was growing up. It was a curly tangle that I resisted allowing anyone to comb when I was quite small which accounted for some of their stance, but it was also a way to deal with the fact that I was not as feminine as they hoped I would be. If I would not be a proper girl, then perhaps I should look more masculine.
I talked them into letting me grow out my hair when I was in fifth grade. It made it to my shoulder before my father ordered my mother to take me to the beauty shop and have it hacked back to my ears.
I liked it long. He didn’t. The battle was on until I simply declared my independence as a junior in high school and let it grow out. I didn’t do more than a cursory trim and thin for the next ten years. In college, it hung to the middle of my back. As it was the most feminine thing about me, I treasured it. And as it attracted the most attention from men, I wore it down as often as I could. For a girl who’d never aroused much male interest, I saw my long hair as a plus. It enabled me to shake labels like “tomboy”. A notion that I still regard as an attempt to force me to be someone other than who I was.
When I hit my early thirties, the questions about when I would finally go back to short hair for good began.
I watched as some of my peers cut their hair off, prompted by birthdays or babies. And I noted that in the press there was an obsession with fashion gurus and their opinions that long hair and old women didn’t mix.
There’s lot of bunk about hair changing as we age and that it simply looks ratty on older women. A lot of that though is damage to hair caused by the shampoos, dying, heat from blow dryers and curling irons and other artificial things we do in the name of shaping and styling. Hair, like skin, changes but probably not as drastically as the movers and shakers in fashion would like us to believe.
Long hair as seen as a desperate attempt by older women to retain youth.
I see more desperation in boob jobs, Botox and extreme dieting, but oddly that is largely ignored or worse, is seen as a rational response.
Long hair is an act of rebellion. Women have their life stages, right? Maiden, Mother and Crone. We should go gently shorn into that good cronehood. I question the “crone” stage. I am betting that it’s a male term plastered over a much more realistic female one.
My hair began in rebellion but it remains because it just works better for me.
Whether women can go short is more about hair texture, face and skull shape and neckline/length. The same applies for adding inches.
And then there is personal style, temperament and image.
Many other intangibles as well.
So I bristle at the “old” thing. My hair length, like my laugh lines and the sag of my breasts are all mine to embrace or reject or remold. Not society’s and certainly not some fashionista’s from the world of Make Believe where women are deemed obese beyond a size four. What would someone who doesn’t deal in reality know about real women anyway, I ask you.
Someday, when I am quite old, I may shave my head completely. Just to make people wonder why and to get a good look at my head – which really hasn’t been seen since I was about two and a half. But until then, I will maintain length.
- You: The Mirror: Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair? (nytimes.com)
- ARA: Do men prefer woman with long hair? (timesunion.com)
- Do You Have A Signature Look? (thefrisky.com)
- ARA: Is it unprofessional to have long hair when you’re 40-plus? (timesunion.com)