I was very excited to see this article in The New York Times today. Titled “Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?” it addresses an issue I have long wondered about myself–why do women automatically cut off their hair when they reach a certain age? The mothers of most of my friends all have some variation on the same haircut, cut either slightly below the ear or above the shoulder. To me it just seems to be the “mom” haircut–and I’ve always been kind of saddened by the idea that one day I too will have a “mom” haircut.
Since I was small, I thought that a close family friend of mine had black hair. However, when I saw her head of black hair replaced with a head of white, I discovered that she had been dyeing her hair black as white strands began appearing, until finally around age 50 she decided to give up and allow her entire head to turn white. At first I found it slightly shocking to see an entire head of long, white hair (she is one of the few “long haired” women that I know), but I soon began to appreciate it for uniqueness and, albeit surprising, beauty. She looked so natural with her hair that I couldn’t help but wish that more women learned from her and let their hair grow out and not try to change it too much.
So I loved the fact that Dominique Browning wrote an article about having long hair at 55. Not only does she have long hair, but she is letting it naturally go gray. I really admire her for that, as I frequently tell the aging women in my life: getting old is nothing to hide–everyone does it. She addresses the biggest complaints she has heard against long hair: that it is “acting out” against society, that it is proof that she is deluding herself into feeling like she is still living in the 70’s, that it is high maintenance, and finally, that men like it. And she addresses them by affirming them: she explains that she is “rebelling” against the idea that women must look a certain way, that the women of the 70’s are still good role models, that while she does have to think about her hair she does not have to spend tons of money or time on it (some people forget that not all long hairstyles require expensive products), and finally, that there is nothing wrong with having hair that men like. All I have to say is: amen.