Hair: The long and the short of it


I’m what you would call a hair girl. I have had long hair for (almost) my whole life. That’s like four plus decades of hair.

I have dreaded haircuts since I was old enough to understand that the definition of “just a little off the ends” was fluid and ever changing. To some it’s the barest whisper of scissors, to others it’s a good six inches. I think it was pretty short when I was born — maybe it was a “pixie” then? I was channeling Twiggy, so deal.

Long locks

By the time I was 4, I had hair that cascaded to my waist in thick, luxurious waves. I know this because I’ve seen pictures. I also have a dim memory of my mother fighting me and my hair on an almost daily basis and, while I cannot prove it, I think I may have been whacked on the head with a hairbrush on more than one occasion while being hissed at to “stand STILL.”

(Show me a child who never felt the sting of a hairbrush during grooming and I will show you a child who has never had long hair. My own daughter once suffered a burn when I attempted to curl her pigtails. She was 6. So I’m laughing WITH you, not at you here, Mom.)

Back to my short-lived phase as a Crystal Gayle impersonator. I believe the photos were taken as a memento before my mother took me to have it cut significantly shorter. I suspect the exact phrase used was “all whacked off.” It was the ’70s and, like everyone and their Brady Bunch brethren, I was going to have a shag.

Short and sassy

My shag, otherwise known as “when I was a 6-year-old boy” lasted just long enough to lead to endless confusion in our family albums. I was my mother’s only child, yet, there in living Polaroid-faded color appears to be a cute little boy sporting a mullet and bell bottom pants. Like I said, it was the ’70s. Is more explanation needed?

By the mid-70s, my shag gave way to a “Dorothy Hamill” after the popular figure skater enthralled everyone during the Winter Olympics. The sad truth was that if you weren’t Dorothy Hamill, or Tennille from Captain and Tennille, it was a “Mushroom” if one was being kind and “bowl cut” if one was not.

My teens and 20s were surprisingly easy. I just abused my hair daily with a variety of styling tools, applied enough Aqua Net to earn me my very own hole in the ozone layer, and tried not to stand too close to any open flames. This is best characterized as the “higher the hair, closer to God” phase of my life. Then I had two children in two years and basically discovered a love of the ponytail that continues unabated to this day.

Through it all, ever since I became a “recovering bob wearer,” I have always had long hair.

Aging gracefully

Now, there is something about turning 40(something) that makes women think they have to cut their hair. Like it’s a rule or something. I’m not saying some folks don’t look amazing with short hair. They do. I am just not one of them. I have a very large head. I would like to say it’s because I’m so smart, but I suspect that it is actually because I am deformed.

Everyone has a “thing.” Some people have a crooked tooth, one earlobe higher than the other, or one foot smaller than the other. I have a freakishly large head. So I like to have even bigger hair to kind of “hide” this fact. It’s like camouflage.

As I’ve gotten older, the care and maintenance of my hair has become both more and less of an issue for me. On one hand, my “wash and go” days are probably behind me. It’s just a lot easier to carry off “bed hair” at 21 than it is 20 years later. On the other hand, my belief that good or bad hair makes or breaks my day is far less prevalent. I now know that hair, while fun to have and play with and style and, yes, color and cut (minimally while hyperventilating), does not define me.

I’ve come full circle in so many ways. I have long(ish) hair but I tend to wear it up most days. What has really been an eye-opener is realizing that I really do not look “young” even if I do wear a ponytail everywhere.

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