Susan's Blog

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hair Peace and Dad’s Response

According to a recent issue of Vogue, it’s time for me to cut my hair. Apparently, your mid-forties is the witching hour – when ladies with hair past their collarbones turn into witches, or harpies, or something far worse: ridiculous and laughable. The same rule applies for short skirts. Even if your legs are “good,” it is not recommended. Except in some extreme cases, of course – I suppose they mean if you are Cyd Charise or Betty Grable – and then, only with thick tights so that no one thinks you are serious.

I’m not sure I have the energy to fight for my right to wear a miniskirt at 44; but I damned well resent anyone telling me I will have to cut my hair soon. It seems like women are always being told the clock is ticking in one way or another: the biological clock, the find-a-husband clock. And now, the long hair clock. Even if we were to declare a kind of Daylight Savings Time on middle aged women with long hair, I’m not sure it would buy me enough time.

I am attached to my hair as it is: long. I have had this sort of hair my entire life. My hair is naturally curly/frizzy, mid-back length, mostly brown, depending on the stage of my highlight grow-out. I have not always loved my hair the way I do now, however. When I was a kid, I wanted long straight hair, parted in the middle, with blue-black shines in it like Veronica Lodge. I knew nothing about Product, relaxant, pomade, wax, or any other goo that could make this happen. A blowout was something bad that happened to tires. So as a child I would go to sleep with my hair wet, pulled into a ponytail and then pinned flat against my head, so that in the morning I had mostly straight hair, albeit with one horizontal crease going all the way across. But at least it looked stretched out and long, and straight(ish).

In my thirties, I, along with every other fashionista at my kids’ playground discovered the blowout, a clever and relatively simple process that would give us the hair of our dreams – or at least, like Jennifer Aniston. Now even we ethnic types could give that little insouciant flip of the head and our hair would actually move. I became addicted to blowouts, chemically induced shine, and flat, middle parts. Never mind that Ned would squint at me and ask, “Who are you?” openly longing for the messy-haired girl he fell in love with at Penn. “Me, only better,” I could have answered, but I was too annoyed. That was my story, however, and I was sticking with it.

Now, in my forties, the style has changed and so have I. Long, loose waves are in, and that is much easier for me to fake than stick-straight hair. Along with the loosening up of hair I have found a more relaxed me. I lost twenty pounds, fairly easily, but healthily. I wrote a book. I found the courage to take a belly dance class. I feel like I’m closer than ever to figuring out what it takes to make me happy, and I know it does not come in a $40 bottle of shine serum. The irony is, that once I hit my forties, I had more confidence and peace-of-mind than any other time in my life; but at the same time, I found myself bombarded with society’s messages that I was no longer good enough. I am exhorted to Botox my fine lines, excise the not-so-fine ones, reduce this, plump up that. And cut my hair. If I don’t, I risk being inappropriate, or even ridiculous. Shudder.

So here I go, braving ridiculous. But as a lifelong member of fashionable society, I think maybe I’m owed a little slack. I paid my dues with years of square-toe, then pointy-toe, then round-toe shoes. Skinny leggings, wide-legged pants. Back to skinny leggings. Cowl neck, then mock turtleneck. I think I have earned the right to continue to wear my hair long way past 45 and be considered beautiful.

At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

Dad’s Response:
Dear Susan-
So much noise about hair
Always it never ends
Hair too long
Hair too short
The musical Hair
Suspended from school for hair
Now it’s time to cut hair
You’re too old for long hair

Who sez all this
Budinskies
Fuddydudd
Experts from Vogue
Probably bald
Who crave power
And hate women
People of should
Who wish they could
Knownothings

Don’t cut your hair
Straight or curly
It’s you
Even with pony tails
Your hair tells your story
Whatever it is
You may color
It rainbow
But don’t cut…

Love,
Dad

19 comments

I’m 47 and my hair is longer than yours. I just cut a couple inches off and it’s still quite long. Easy to put up in a french-twist if I want to look like a grown up. I struggle with the idea of going shorter. I had it collarbone length for a while about 10 years ago. I didn’t like it very well. I’ve had it to my waist for quite a bit of my 20’s and middle of my back for most of my 30’s and what I have had up to now of my 40’s. I don’t look good in short hair, but I don’t know if hippie chick is the way to go forever…

I like your hair. I don’t see anything wrong with it at all. 🙂

— added by Camille on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 2:02 am

I’m also 47 and my hair is a little longer than yours.

— added by hjinla on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 2:56 am

Susan, when I had my first child, my aunt gave me my first (and last) pair of doubleknit polyester pants, saying I was too old for jeans. When it happened to my sister, her mother in law gave her a housecoat. Do you remember those?

Keep your hair and don’t join the club of those ladies who wear brown football helmets!!

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 8:26 am

Susan, my mother died when she was 80 with hair down the middle of her back. It was virgin hair (never been color treated), straight, and very thin. But, it had such shine, as did her personality. The hair suited her. She never cared what anyone thought – a great inspiration and role model for me. My hair is now down the middle of my back, wavy, color treated, and very thin, but it suits me (I’m 41, very close to 42). People are always trying to get me to cut it. Always women, I don’t care what the women think – what is their motive anyway?

— added by Zoe on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 11:32 am

your hair is gorgeous as is your heart. my hair is past my shoulders and im 55, my daughter threatens to disown me if i ever cut it shorter!
hugs from texas` nance

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 4:07 pm

Please do not listen to those youth worshiping magazines. They’re just putting unnecessary fear into you. Not unlike the GOP. There is no reason for you to cut your hair. At all.

I approve those skirts too but my opnion doesn’t matter much 🙂

— added by Someone Said on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 6:45 pm

“Experts from Vogue
Probably bald”

Your Dad is my hero!

— added by Someone Said on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 9:01 pm

I’ve had long hair all my life, I’m 38 now, and I don’t give a rodent’s hindquarters what Vogue says. 🙂

(Every time I have contemplated cutting it short, I realize I have no idea how it would behave as short hair, and I’m just a lot more comfortable with the known quantity.)

— added by Julia on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 9:01 pm

I’m 44 and my hair is down to my waist. I like it this way. I can always put it in a bun or braid it around my head if I want to. I spent many many years with my hair at or above my shoulders, and it was too much work and too expensive to keep it looking presentable. Your Dad is right – keep it long! – Original Lee

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 9:40 am

Thanks for submitting this post to the Carnival of Feminists. We really liked it and it’s up in the current Carnival on our blog “Body Impolitic”

— added by laurie toby edison on Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 10:31 pm

I am 48. My hair has always been long except for when I was 6 0r 7 and my mom had it cut into a pixie. I hated it and swore I’d always have long hair. I keep it super healthy and shiny and make sure to keep the ends trimmed often. I am thinking of cutting it and donating 10 inches to Locks of Love in honor of my mother in law who just passed away from cancer. I think I am going to let it grow just a bit more before I do so that my husband won’t go into total shock. I want to leave it at least shoulder length.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, December 23, 2006 at 4:36 pm

My wife has hair to her tailbone, and she’s older than you. Not one straight man EVER would like to see yours short. It’s phenomenal, Susan. You look 35! And don’t be swayed by those Locks of Love guilt-trippers, who SELL almost all the hair they receive. Less than 1% is used in the making of wigs. RS

— added by Anonymous on Monday, June 11, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Thanks! It is longer than ever.

— added by Susan Senator on Monday, June 11, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Your hair… beautiful.

Your Dad… brilliant.

— added by Buster on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Hi Susan! I’m a guy, my wife is 51, and my wife has stunning long straight hair, uncolored. To her waist, and it is HOT!!!
BTW, you are a beauty, and cutting one’s hair past 40 only makes a woman look older and less sensuous 90% of the time. Hope you still have it long, and will keep it for life. God Bless, Bob

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Hi Susan,

I hope I will be a wise dad like your dad when my girls are your age! He is great. In German fashion is called “Mode”. Which sounds like Modus. Something that is programmed into society – into our minds. I find it ridiculous.

Greetings from Europe
Stefan

— added by Stefan on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 5:25 am

Hi Susan,

I hope I will be a wise dad like your dad when my girls are your age! He is great. In German fashion is called “Mode”. Which sounds like Modus. Something that is programmed into society – into our minds. I find it ridiculous.

Greetings from Europe
Stefan

— added by Stefan on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 at 5:26 am

Susan, I am 54 and my hair is still longish, it hits just below the shoulders. I think you look lovely with your long hair cut. Long hair cutsloook great on older women and it is a shame in my opinion that so many older women cut their har offl I am not suer what prompts them to make the change to go to shorter cuts when they get older, but it does seem to be the way a lot of older women go witjh thier hair.

Julie

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 4:04 am

Hey, Susan –

Did you ever notice how all those Vogue models chop their hair to just above their ears, are labeled the "It" style of the fall season, and then automatically run out to get extensions for the holidays? Then, they chop it all off again for an "easy, breezy spring" style, and run out to tack on extra highlighted layers for summer at the beach. What's THAT about? I figure, us longhairs are just always one season ahead in fashion. Congratulations on being wise enough and secure enough to tell the fashion police where they can stick their scissors. :o)

— added by Melle on Friday, September 18, 2009 at 5:49 am