The H of Living Imperfectly: Hair and Hoary #atozchallenge

Indeed, simplicity is the grand secret of a lady’s toilet. When she burdens herself with a profusion of bijouterie she rather detracts from than adds to her personal appearance, while all outré fashions and ultra-style of dress, though they excite attention, neither win respect nor enhance the attraction of the wearer Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

H Challenge LetterWe all long for perfect hair no matter where we are on the ageing spectrum. Women obsess about it, men fantasize over it, our babies lovingly pull or stroke it.

Much has been written and opined about what makes hair perfect, both in terms of colour and length. Just this past weekend, my Sunday paper ran a feature on hair length. It pointed out the connection between hair length and femininity and suggested that the ideal woman in the eyes of a gentleman is a feminine woman and that the appearance of a woman brushing her long hair is very feminine, sensual and appealing.

There is clearly politics in female hair for it is expected that a woman’s hair must at all times be age appropriate.

Apparently, the rule of thumb is that whilst single, young women should maintain long hair as this is correlated to sexual desire. Once married though they are expected to cut their locks to ready themselves for the practical duties of housing-minding and child-rearing. Ladies, apparently marriage and short hair also means that we can “give up” as we have snagged ourselves a husband. Moreover, it is expected that once a woman hits 50, she must part with her tresses as a sign that her job of rearing the children is over.

H is also for Hmmmm.

I have a 50 year old friend who wears her hair long and grey. She is a very natural, nurturing person who has never coloured her hair. Her hairgrey hair length is about at her shoulder blades with bangs at the front and a feathering of length down the sides of her face. Simply by virtue of her choices, my friend has received many unsolicited not so positive remarks about not only her hair colour, but also its length.  These remarks are made not only by acquaintances, but also by complete strangers. The fact is she looks terrific and she is comfortable in her locks. She is also a married  mother of two and simply likes long hair.

Why should her hairstyle make anyone else uncomfortable is beyond me. I can only ascribe it to perfection gone made and expectations we have on what a middle aged woman should look like.

By contrast, I am hard pressed to raise any real interest in my hair from anyone and more particularly the males in my family. I have worn my hair short until a couple of years ago when I decided to grow it out as a testament to the heavy physical duties of my child rearing days being over. I let it grow to shoulder blade length and only recently decided to go a little shorter. The humid summer just past may have played a little in that decision. Two days ago I changed my hair colour considerably. One person in my family noticed, namely my younger son oh, and possibly the cat.

Maybe this is because my hair was not swinging in slow motion. Have you ever noticed that every shampoo commercial ever made depicts a young girl swinging her hair from side to side in slow motion? This might be an explanation of why washed hair in real life never looks as good as on the ads – shampoo was never meant to be used for full speed hair.

Living imperfectly means ignoring settled convention and wearing the hair that makes you comfortable. Long, short or a bit of both with a dash of grey, the choice is an individual one.

We should not become entangled in convention perfection.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

11 thoughts on “The H of Living Imperfectly: Hair and Hoary #atozchallenge

  1. Your posts are so close to my heart. I was the long hair, well just below shoulders, then to shoulders, then to the pixie cut. I don’t know if it’s because I had been brought up with others saying as you age you must go short or not. I keep my hair shorter because well simply put it’s easier to manage. Wash, dry, product for bounce, quick blow wave, little more joozing … (do you know how hard shooshing?) is to type. I sit here mouthing the letters..but I think you get my drift. You are right of course, we should wear our hair any damn way we please, flowing, floating or perched on top and not give two hoots what others think. 🙂 xx

  2. Oh my, I’m failing society. My hair remains long and straight and has for years. I have no plans of cutting it even though it won’t be long before my kids fly the coup. I love the convenience of a pony tail too much. Wonder what people are saying about ME (and my hair) behind my back… 🙂

  3. “…a profusion of bijouterie…” in the beginning quote?!? now that’s a new word for me – in English or French!!

    Every time I see the ads for hair products and makeup and UNCOMFORTABLE shoes, I think …”Really?”.

    Slo-mo hair swishing LOL You nailed that advertising exaggeration! And currently it’s not just length and color, it’s all about the hair extensions!!! Now where’s my rubber band – I need to put this tangled misshapen hair in a pony tail and get on with living!

  4. Cool post–and I agree that one’s hair should be whatever length one is comfortable with. Hang what everyone else thinks! I’m in my mid-fifties and have had long hair all my life (other than one pixie cut at about age five). About ten years ago, I decided to whack it all off, and the hairdresser asked if I wanted to donate it. Wow, cool idea! Since then, I’ve let it grow until it’s long enough to still be past my shoulders after a 10-12″ chop, and then I donate it and start over.

    I wrote a post last summer about aging and hair, if anyone’s interested (it’s not about donating it): http://melindahagenson.com/2013/08/24/pot-luck-gimme-a-head-with-hair/

  5. I just got my long hair cut. I thought I was comfortable and it had become a part of who I was, but then decided I didn’t really like that part, and the comfort was more just lazy. (I think, I hope)

  6. Anytime I had short hair I was mistaken for a male – whether 10 or 20. I gave up and have it long since (30, 40) but I also never had little ones’ sticky fingers entangled in it. I want to shave it ALL OFF just once, to see what is under there, what I look like without dead keratin coating my skull. If I was single, I would have done it already. But since hubby has hair way, way longer than mine, I’d upset him. Not to mention give more fodder to the local yokels who think he’s gay for having hair and loving fancy sneakers, and I’m gay for all reasons too numerous and stupid to count.

  7. Judy, in my view as a hair challenged male, women should wear their hair anyway that makes them feel the way they want to feel. I actually love the picture above of her long beautiful gray hair. As my teenage son once asked me if he should could his hair, I said my opinion does not matter – it is your head. Have a great day. I think I will go watch “Hair” now. BTG

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