Sunday, July 29, 2012


When I was a child, my father loved my hair long. I had gorgeous, straight, thick, dark-brown hair. He took such pride in my was sort of biblical.

When I went to college, I started to find myself and decided a really cool way to rebel against my dad was to cut my hair (just call me James Dean). I went from Farrah Fawcett to short. Really short. My senior picture, which mom kept in her office, elicited comments like, "Dianne, your son is so handsome!" I had on make-up, earrings, and a purple turtleneck sweater. But my short, straight hair made me look like a guy.

Then, a girl at a convenience store asked her mother, right out loud in front of me, "Is that person a boy or a girl?"

Fine. I grew it out.

And it stayed long until our dog Shemya died. My hairdresser told me Native Americans used to cut their hair as a part of mourning. It made sense.

My hair has been short ever since.

Then there's the color. My mother used to color her hair, and my sister and I gave her crap about it. Her gray was so pretty, so shiny, so silver, so complimentary of her complexion. The color-from-a-bottle always looked fake and unnatural. So she let it go gray. And it is beautiful. As my own hair grayed, it felt like the height of hypocrisy to color it. My gray is silver, too.

My sister took the first head shot on my Blogger favorite photo of my short hair. Plus, the photo makes my nose look not too irregular.

I'd have rhinoplasty if rubber stamps weren't more fun to spend money on.

Last October, I decided to grow my hair long. Again. I was sick of it short, as it has been for the past 12 years. It almost never looked as good in real life as it did in the photo above. Also, the texture of it has completely changed as it has turned gray. Before, it was coarse and straight. Now it is even coarser and given to fits of occasional random waves or kinks. Wire. That's what it most resembles now.

So why not grow it out and see what happens? At least, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Fortunately, my hair grows fast. It's touches my shoulders now and swings when I turn my head. I feel girly again, girly and feminine and middle aged.

Last weekend, my sister saw how long my hair had grown and begged me never to braid it. My mom saw how long my hair had grown and suggested I braid it.

There's a generation gap at work. And a perfect demonstration of the strong opinions people have when it comes to hair. Wear it long. Wear it short. Curl it. Straighten it. Put it up, Wear it down. Color it. Don't color it. Perm it. Tint it. Chalk it. Put a feather in it.

Everyone has an opinion.

I'm aware that "women of a certain age" are supposed to have short hair. We're supposed to cave to middle-age style and not braid it (and wear overalls) or put it in a bun old-lady style. We're supposed to age gracefully but that usually means coloring it because gray makes you look old. We're supposed to look and act our age but not look and act our age.


I'm going to be me. Grammatically and follicularly incorrect, but that's just fine.

How are you going to be you? What conventions and styles do you thumb your nose at?


  1. I had curly hair when the Farrah Fawcett look of feathered bangs was in and, of course, there is no way my hair would do that! So...I hated my hair....then, perms came out and I was in heaven!!! I cut my hair into a short 'fro and wore it like that all through high school - love :)

    In university I started to grow it out a bit as product tht would help control the frizz factor became available. As the products have become better, my hair is just above shoulder length and I love it :) I refuse to straighten it as I like wash and wear hair. I was far to busy in sports all my life to even bother thinking about taking time straightening my hair as it is fine and when I got hot and sweaty - the cuts came bouncing back - never mind what drizzle, humidity and rain woudl do (adn we live on the West Coats LOL!). I have compromised by straightening my bangs and tease our local weather man that I don't need a humidex, just need to look at how tight my curls are. Yes, I love my curly hair and gleefully spend the $$ I save on perms and treatments on stamping supplies :)

  2. First off, I love your grey hair!
    I decided a couple of years ago that I would not spend the time and money on coloring my hair. Mine is still about 90% brown, and I don't know if my feelings on this subject will change once I turn more grey...
    Most of my friends and colleagues color their hair regularly, they look good, but I just don't feel like going there.
    Last year I went back home and was fortunate to hang out with all of my close high school friends. One of my best friends from that time told me the next day, that I really need to color my hair, because the few grey strands around my face apparently take away from my otherwise youthful appearance ( I'm almost 48 ). I was stunned by her bluntness, but I know she was trying to help me. May be she thought my life was so busy, that I hadn't noticed! Of course this friend is single without kids and spends quite a lot of time at the salon. Anyway, I was trying to tell her that I am perfectly fine with my hair. Like you I'd rather spend money on other things.


  3. I'm so with you in keeping our hair natural, gray and all!
    I also do things the young ones think should be out of a senior's range.
    Took up boxing at age 54 and love it. Took up rock climbing at 55 and have to say I can kick butt on the wall and out climb most of the 30 somethings there. I also wear glasses instead of contacts.
    Always look forward to reading your posts - makes my day a little brighter. THANK YOU!

  4. Marisa^ and I have the exact same hair history and thoughts about it. I have naturally curly hair and I've worn it super short and super long, but for most of my life it's usually between my chin and my shoulders, with long layers, long bangs. The advances made in hair styling products in the last 20 years have revolutionized my life. I have always had "wash and wear" hair but now it isn't frizzy and my natural spiral curls are fabulous in the summer humidity. I do cover my gray. A box of L'Oreal costs me less than $8 a month and it takes me about a half hour to do it. My curly auburn hair has always been my trademark and my best feature. I love to go music festivals and hang out with the aging hippies. Every time I see a woman with long gray curls I think, "Hmmm, maybe I'll stop coloring," and I might, just not yet.

  5. I also have naturally curly hair (mid-back length) and love curl control mousse and have learned to love my hair. I don't want to feel obligated to have short hair because of my age or because of the growing number of white ones, but I do wonder what will happen to the curliness as the percent of whites increases.

    My good friend and neighbor used to color her hair. Then, no warning, one time when she did it she broke out in hives all over and her eyes nearly swelled shut. She said it was some sort of cosmic pay back for being vain! She no longer colors and I am now totally chicken to try it!

  6. I like your hair both ways-I keep mine short-my rebellion was throwing away my curler bag in the last move-and I don't rinse it either. Figure I save $70 per haircut that way. My rebellion is that I really like geology and pet rats and refuse to give into my friends who cannot understand it. No, friends, it's not because my husband "drags me along" on fieldtrips. I really like to go!

  7. I too have very naturally curly hair. It's wash and go and I only cut it about twice a year. (So I save some money on haircuts) Mid back length seems to work the best for putting it up and ponytails.

    I DO color it. At 55 I am now completely white under the color. And yes, it costs me about $75 a month to stay that way; but I am just not ready to age 15 years. My plan is to continue to color until retirement and then let it go. My dad was a redhead too and he colored until about 60. He has a beautiful head of white hair now. I think that women who do not color are very brave and I admire them for letting it go. And if you have the beautiful blended gray like you do Susan; it looks great!

    I do not act my age. I run, bike, hike and do whatever else feels good. I completed the Warrior Dash this last Sunday and it was AWESOME. I LOVED it. It was more fun than an actual race; but it keeps me motivated to train. My bucket list still has a lot of physical activity on it; including a cross country bike ride when I retire.

    One of the things I thumb my nose at is fashion. I always look nice; but barely on the edge of fashion. I tend to dress more "preppy" and "prim". It's very hard to find reasonable clothing that fits my style; but I keep at it. Comfort is the word when I'm out clothes shopping.

  8. Well... I'm on the other side of the fence. I have straight, thick hair and for most of childhood my mother insisted on giving me those Toni perms - frizz in a box! There was a time during college that I braved non-permed hair, but I continued to set it with those jumbo plastic rollers or soup cans in order to get the 'lift' that was so popular. I went through another phase of perms and curly until I met my significant other... who loved my hair however it was styled. So there I be... right now my hair is not permed; it's ear length; it looks great and oh... it is colored :->

  9. I really like your hair, Susan. It is pretty long, but liked it short too. I have almost all white hair now & wear it long (usually up in a clip)despite my daughter saying I am "too old for long hair" and "why don't I color it?" - again. Had to laught at the Toni comment above. My mother insisted on that too and also said I couldn't wear rollers after I married so talked me into a perm and cut the week before the wedding. Was surprised he still married 2nd hubby always pointed out women with long and gray hair! Thanks Susan for this conversation! :-D

  10. I really like your Blogger profile pic, but that's just my opinion.

    I have two rules about my hair. (1) It has to be off my neck. That means either so short it doesn't touch my neck, or long enough to pull up. (2) It can't take me more than 5 minutes to deal with it every morning.

    Option (1) means I have to keep getting it cut, though fortunately it grows so slowly I can go months between hair cuts.

    Option (2) allows me to keep it long once it grows out and never, ever, ever get it cut again. I can go for years. And I can pull it back or BRAID IT or do whatever I want.

    My hair is thin and wavy, and I don't think at 50+ it looks right on me when it's long. But then, since I'm 50+, I've stopped caring what other people think. It's quite liberating! :)

    Last time I had to make A Decision, I waited until it was long enough to donate, then went short. It's now growing out again, and it's August, and I may die.

    I think you need to do what makes your life easiest. And of course, if DH has a preference, then that can weigh into your decision, too.

    Okay, I'm done now.

  11. PS: I have never colored my hair and never will. The maintenance sounds like work.

  12. I started going grey in my thirties and for years I coloured it. I went from dark brown, to red, to blonde in an attempt to disguise the changing on my hair. I was the only one fooled and since my hair grows alarmingly fast I had to colour the roots every three weeks. Very expensive. I finally started to let it grow out and when I had just over an inch of silver grey I cut it SHORT and wore it spikey. That lasted for a few years until the silver turned to a beautiful glimmering white that I love. I did put chocking poink streaks in it a couple yeas ago to be funky (I was coming up to 60) but that only lasted a year bcause again, it's expensive. Now I get a funky hairstyle, use hair products that make my hair look good and proudly go about my day. The women that stop me to say how much they love my hair colour is amazing. And when I think it's starting to yellow a bit I just use the purple shampoo for white hair. Works fantastic.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!