“You look so much younger with your hair short.”
I have heard that all my life. Looking younger seems to be a priority in my culture.
I remember Aunt Susie. She was one of my dad’s younger sisters, and until she was what I considered ancient, she had long hair. It was shiny brunette with a hint of auburn highlights. She usually wore her hair in a twist at the nape of her neck. She was soft-spoken and beautiful. Then one day, she got her hair cut into the “respectable old lady” do. Even thinking about it now – years later – is deflating somehow.
Some Native Americans consider long hair a source of power. Biblical character Sampson, a consecrated Nazirite, grew his hair for strength. In New Testament times only prostitutes were candidates for shaved heads. In many traditions, long hair is a woman’s glory.
When I was a pre-teen and teenager, the “beautiful” girls had long hair. Only the rebellious had the courage to cut their hair extremely short. Only the rebellious young men grew their hair long – to be at the receiving end of teasing or even persecution.
“A real man does not have long hair.” Scoff.
It is confusing. As an older woman, I am now expected to wear my hair short. “You look so much younger ….” Blah, blah, blah! Who would want some gleaming hair making a woman look OLD! Besides, old women are silly and invisible – even to one another sometimes.
I do not know too many old women with flowing hair. (How old is old?) The four I do know are counter-cultural – even rebellious. It takes patience and guts for an old woman to grow her hair long.
Next time you see me, my hair might be longer. I might be brave and resist the peer pressure beauty advice to cut it.
Next time you see me, I might look older. I will have to choose whether to be an older woman with short hair or an older woman with long hair.