Where is my inner Halle?

I always used to laugh at the girls who became too attached to their hair, no pun intended here. You know the ones I mean? The girls who would never cut it. Never. They had long hair because if you had short hair you looked like a boy. They had long hair because it made them prettier. They had long hair because the boys seemed to like it more. And changing it up at all made them feel vulnerable and less powerful.

When I was very newly married (about two weeks into it) I went and got my hair cut quite short. It had been about to my shoulders for the wedding, but I always enjoyed it short because it felt healthier and thicker. So after work one day I went right out and got it chopped, with no consultation with the new better half. My independence has always been a strength and a weakness. I was a fifth-grade teacher at the time and after the haircut I came home and plopped down on my bed, exhausted from a big day. An hour or so later I woke up to my new cute husband staring down at me with a big smile on his face. "You look pretty sassy!" he joked as I groggily rubbed my eyes and sat up. Since that day I have never worried about my husband's opinion about my hair. He really doesn't mind what I do with it. He still thinks I am sassy (which I must admit isn't always used as a compliment).

But here I am in my mid-forties liking my hair a little bit longer. Don't get me wrong, it isn't supermodel long. It just hits below my shirt collar, which is long for me. And even though there is no set age when a woman should give up on flowing hair, I don't want to be holding on to my youth for too long. That gets a little sad. So every time I get out the blow dryer and big round brush I get a little happy, but I wonder what this hair is symbolizing. Am I turning into the high school drill team member who only feels like a girl if she has a mane of shiny hair falling down her back?

Sometimes I think about Halle Berry (when she had super short pixie hair and was so so cute). She pulled it off. She was as girly as girly can be. I feel like I am betraying myself when I give in to the girly side of my identity, like I am turning my back on my instinctive independence. But being the only woman in this house I must say it has been fun to have a monopoly on the fluffy stuff here and there. So I repeat a mantra to myself every now and then as I run my fingers through my hair. I say, "I could cut it if I want to. I just don't want to right now." And then I am convinced that it is true.

9 comments

April | January 2, 2009 at 5:53 PM

I've seen some women in their 60's with gray hair past their shoulders look great and others, not so great. Truthfully, I think it depends on the person, their attitude and their hair color. Everyone needs a good haircut and hair color. Our skin changes color as we age, so we need to keep up with that and not hang on to old patterns.

I have lived my life with boys as well, and so it is important for me to feel feminine. My hair has gone from short of shorts to long. It's medium right now, and according to my now hairdresser, she wouldn't cut it if I asked her.

Some people just don't suit the really short hair (moi). For me longer is better.

Denial can be scary thing! But entertaining for the rest of the world. Present company excluded.

Heidi Ashworth | January 2, 2009 at 7:02 PM

When we (meaning you and I) were young, all the women cut their hair short by the time they hit forty. However, by the time we were in high school, 50 was the new 40 (or is it the other way around?) and NOW 40 is the new 30 (or the other way around). Anywho, it is much more acceptable and common to look, act and dress much younger than the moms did when we were kids. Thank goodness! I would hate to have to dress that way. I say yay to fashion and fun and nice discreet appropriate for bishop's wives red streaks in the hair! (I'm thinking about going to the Whitney awards ceremony in April in Salt Lake--I don't expect to win but I DID get nominated--thanks to my good bloggy friends!)

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel | January 2, 2009 at 8:38 PM

You have a gorgeous classic face so you'll look good in any hair length. I have curly hair and I went through a Halle Berry phase (didn't look as great though, not even close) then recently I've been wearing it long, and I straighten it now and then which is part of the fun. But I 'm entering into that I-want-short-hair phase again, so I'm thinking of chopping it off in about 2 weeks. I feel really girly no matter what the length of my hair is, but it did occur to me while reading your post that I tend to ALWAYS wear make-up and earrings when I have short hair. Maybe subconsciously I'm making sure people know I'm a girl with short hair not a 12 year old boy :-) since I'm short and not big chested ;-) That's really interesting how hair affects my self-image.

LisAway | January 3, 2009 at 12:53 AM

I think it's always refreshing to see older women who don't have their hair chopped and permed like all their peers. (I know you're not THAT old yet, :) and I agree with Heidi that women are doing that much later than they used to, like after 50 and more like at 60+. And I'm so glad that hardly ANYONE ever wears those polyester pants suits of my grandmother's days. Or do they still? I'm never gonna, I can tell you that much.

I was so excited to get my hair cut very short. I wanted it pixie/Halle Berry short and I made sure I had the right face shape and everything. Then I went and ended up with the very worst haircut of my life. I looked awful. It didn't suit me at all. (blogged about it) Of course it wasn't half as short as I'd dreamed of having it, and now I'm so glad it wasn't!

I like Marivic's comment. Doesn't her daughter have a really cute pixie cut in some of those pictures on her blog? Now THAT's what I wanted to look like.

Luann | January 3, 2009 at 5:34 AM

Kazz, I don't think being girly and being independent are mutually exclusive. Just ask Cinderella, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty, a.k.a. Ariel, a.k.a. my red-headed 4 year old. Okay so she's only four and it's easy to pull off girly when you are a four year old girl, but she's also as witty/strong/independent as they come.

There is no doubt about your strength, intelligence and independence no matter how you wear your hair or how cute your shoes are. The fact that you like to change up your look only underscores your creativity and strength of personality.

You go girl! (I really can't pull that line off, can I? *sigh*)

Lara | January 3, 2009 at 9:31 AM

My mother in law is 70 years old and has longer hair than I do. She pulls it off well, it is dyed blond and always looks wonderful. Consequently, I think she looks a whole lot younger than she is. Do what you want wehn you want! :)

Kazzy | January 3, 2009 at 10:56 AM

These are some of the longest comments I have gotten recently, so obviously it is a subject we have all thought about, or at least something we have noticed on other people. Ah, girl stuff! Thanks for your input, everyone!

Mrs4444 | January 5, 2009 at 4:17 PM

I think this is a prize winner; I just loved it. Very nice. I threaten to cut mine now and then, but I can't stand my husband's WHINING! :)

Heather | January 5, 2009 at 9:22 PM

"I feel like I am betraying myself when I give in to the girly side of my identity, like I am turning my back on my instinctive independence."

I can totally relate to this statement. Like letting yourself be a girl. Growing up, I loved that I hated girly stuff, to a point that I defined myself by how not girly I was. I loved being better at sports than boys, or smarter at math and I looked down on girls who spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. I resented guys who would try to flatter me wit hcomments like, "Hey beautiful!", thinking I was above that, and loved wearing "boy" clothes, no form-fitting jeans for me! So being a married woman (and I didn't have to prove anything anymore) was quite an adjustment for me and then dealing with getting older and coming to terms with the fact that I did actually have to try at being pretty (wrinkle cream, what?) and it actually was important to me somewhere deep down, and did that mean I wasn't being true to myself?
And about cutting hair way short, I always wanted to do it and when I did a few years ago it was great, but I don't think I'll ever really want to do it again but am reassured that "I could do it if I want to, I just don't right now." Really.