Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Long hair? Short hair? It's a hairy question.

I have what most people would consider "good hair." Not to brag or anything, but it's always been sort of my trademark. After a few unfortunate years in elementary school that included Dorothy Hamill cuts and later Toni Girl home perms which made me resemble a dirty blond Annie, my hair finally came into its own in middle and high school.

Growing up in East Tennessee, big hair was all the rage and I had it, in spades. By my junior year, my hair was set in a spiral perm and reached down to the middle of my back and up several inches off my head. It was very "big" hair. Don't believe me? Check out the pictures a friend from high school just posted today on my Facebook page. *I told you so.*

I kept my long, curly hair into college, but by the time my junior year rolled around, I needed a change -- both literally and figuratively. I started by straightening my hair and getting bangs, but it just looked stringy. So, I decided I needed to cut it, really cut it, but my boyfriend of three years forbade me to cut it. So, I cut the hair, cut out the boyfriend, and felt freer than I had in years. Cutting my hair was cathartic. Short hair was my symbol of freedom and independence. I started out with a slightly-shorter-than-shoulder-length bob and didn't stop until it was above my ears a few months later. I felt a little like Sampson in reverse. My hair, which had had always been my source of power, was gone, but I felt more powerful than ever before.

It's not surprising that it was in this phase that I met my husband. At that point my was cut in a stacked bob an inch or two above my chin. It was shorter than it had been since I was in the first grade. The girl he met was not the girl I had been for several years. I was then, and am still, grateful that he fell in love with me when I had very short hair. He didn't know about my long, beautiful locks; he just knew about me.

Fast forward 15 years and three kids later, and I still have pretty good hair. It has gotten wavier with each child, and if I let it dry on its own, I resemble the lead singer of an 80s hair band, but it fixes up nice. My dilemma now is different. I kept my hair just at or above my collar for a good 10 or 12 years after Jeff and I met. It wasn't fussy, and it was just a little sassy -- kind of like me. But for the last few years, I've been letting it grow out. It now resides below my collar bone, which is "long" for me.

What started as a necessity after having a third child, has become a way of life. With an infant and two small children, I couldn't get to the salon very often, so I let it grow. It's now at a length where I can pull it back in a pony tail when I don't have time to fix it. I also don't have to wash it every day like I do when I have short hair, so that's also plus. Sounds perfect, right? Well, sort of.

The problem is I can't decide what is me anymore. Is this long, wavy hair that takes an inordinate amount of time to blow out when I do wash it "who I am," or is my short sassy hair "who I am"? Also, and this might be the bigger question, is there a deadline for long hair? More than one friend has told me that you can't have long hair after a certain age. But they, of course, don't know what that age is, so they are holding on tight to their long hair for as long as they can. So is that what I am doing? Holding on to longer hair to try to hold on to my youth? Or maybe with my longer hair I'm just making a desperate attempt to look like every sexy actress I see on TV. Doesn't long hair equal sexy hair? It's all so, existential. And it makes me tired just thinking about it.

My husband is no help. He says it doesn't matter to him how I wear my hair, and he thinks it looks fine short or long. I realize, from experience, that is an excellent answer from an excellent man, but I could use a little help over here. I don't know what I want, so couldn't he just tell me what he wants and I'll go with that?

Maybe I'm just tired of all the decisions I have to make in my life, and I'd like someone to make this one for me. Obviously he can't tell me how to wear my hair to make me feel like me, only I can do that. But for some unknown reason, I am incapable of doing that at the moment. So, my hair's long and getting longer (and bigger) by default. I guess like in so many other areas of my life, no decision has become my decision. So maybe my long hair is making me feel like me and maybe that's the problem. Maybe it's time for me to take my power back. I guess I'll just have to see.

1 comment:

  1. While I don't have any good insights (you are shocked I am sure) I can tell you that hair does not have an age. If you want to wear it long at age 90 and then cut it into a pixie style at age 103, so be it! We have few things that are able to age gracefully with us and help define our personalities. Personally, I would shy away from leather pants and nipple rings past the age of...well...never...but the hair is YOURS and should make you feel good about yourself. If that means long today and red, short tomorrow and blonde, just have at it!