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.
We 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 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