Title sound familiar? Those are the lyrics from the 1967 musical and song “Hair“. The question mark is my own addition. A couple of weeks ago, the topic of hair seemed to be popping up everywhere. From a father’s tribute to his daughter’s curly hair, to Willow Smith’s whip-lash inducing “I Whip My Hair” video, hair was hot. The hair indoctrination begins from the time we’re little girls. Popular culture teaches us that hair is an essential part of being a woman, and that the longer and straighter that hair, the better.
That hair indoctrination transcends race, ethnicity and culture, but as you can imagine, the message can be an especially difficult one for little girls whose hair grow naturally from their heads in crowns of tightly woven corkscrews. Within the African American community, women are dealing with hair issues including going “natural” or not, straightening, weaving, and yes, “the long hair” phenomenon as well. I’ve learned that some Asian and Caucasian women use Thermal Conditioning to remove even a hint of curl or wave from their hair. And it wasn’t until Chris Rock’s visit to Oprah last year that I started paying attention to blonds with roots, and realized that an awful lot of blonds weren’t born that way. But we’ll tackle those issues in a future post, today’s hair issue is about long hair and older women. (Image credit: George Eastman House)
This past week I came across a New York Times article about long hair on older women. Here’s an excerpt from Why Can’t Middle Age Women Have Long Hair?:
I have long hair. I’m not talking about long enough to brush gently on my shoulder — when I tilt my head. I’m not talking about being a couple of weeks late to the hairdresser. I’m talking long. Long enough for a ponytail with swing to it. Long enough to sit against when I’m in a chair. Long enough to have to lift it up out of the sweater I’m pulling over my head. Long enough to braid.
No one seems to have any problems when a woman of a certain age cuts her hair off. It is considered the appropriate thing to do, as if being shorn is a way of releasing oneself from the locks of the past. I can see the appeal, and have, at times in my life, gone that route. Some women want to wash the men (or jobs) right out of their hair. Others of us have to have at them with scissors. Again, I do not judge. Go right ahead, be a 60-year-old pixie.
So why do people judge middle-aged long hair so harshly?
Is long hair on older women viewed negatively in today’s society? At 40(ish) how are you wearing your hair and why? Share your “hair thoughts” in the comment section or on our Facebook Fan Page.