… And you know, US. The forgotten, invisible ones – all the women over 45.
Yes, it would really seem that we are that shallow as a species. After delving in and researching the hell out of being old and having long hair, sex and sexuality is the only convincing conclusion I can draw and it all started with a very simple proposition…
“Long hair and older women… when did it become a thing?”
After years of working with women who had thought they had to relinquish their manes to the hairdressers’ scissors because they had passed a significant birthday, I thought I had come up with some fairly clever answers and theories. My first bright idea was that historically, at least in our grand-parents’ generation, many of them had all their teeth whipped out, and the degeneration of their jaw and general sagging caused by not having the scaffolding in their face, needed to be lifted and de-emphasized by a shorter haircut. WRONG it depends on your face shape, and a bit more length could be just what all those grannies needed to detract from their toothless kisses. Instead of the soft fluffy permed purpled rinsed clouds.
Losing an inch of depth from your jaw will make your forehead and nose look more dominant. To balance that, covering the forehead up and adding softness and fullness to the jawline is a bona fide solution, as well as are many others, and having a short haircut is not a fait accompli.
So what else… do we simply look awful with long hair as we age? WRONG. Fat, thin, comfortable, snowy, salt’n’pepper, shocking pink, demure blonde, botoxed and filled, or as worn in as a beautiful leather couch – long hair on mature dames rocks. If it is their thing, and they own it.
Through my research there have been some discoveries and one great reference point has been ‘Ambiguous Locks: An Iconology of Hair in Medieval Art and Literature’ by Roberta Milliken. From her book “Considering how important a woman’s appearance was to both her social standing and her general regard leads to a greater appreciation of the significance of this key feminine feature (hair)”. Oh how things have changed 😉
So this segways right into the train of thought on the desire to control women’s hair by society; the length of it, how it is styled and whether it has been covered or not, which has been going on since the 13th century BC. Back in the 13th Century BC the Assyrian people wrote themselves a law that: women of noble birth had to wear a veil but prostitutes and common women were forbidden to wear one. Jump forward again to the Middle Ages and Roberta’s book again “a woman’s outer appearance reflected her inner state and generally announced what was deemed the most important information about her to an androcentric society, and that was her relationship to men or her sexual history”. Roberta goes on in her book to explain that chaste women covered their hair, keep their hair long, tidy and neatly tied and largely unadorned. Harlots, wantons and women of ill repute had uncovered hair, left it open and free, braided it, adorned it and made themselves sinfully pretty. If a woman was really dreadful her hair was cut off!
“Have men been hardwired to think that long hair = sexual availability?”
In other times and cultures, maids or unmarried women were allowed to wear their hair uncovered and untethered, to show they were available for marriage. So with ideas of young available women having long open hair, and prostitutes having long open hair for centuries, have men been hardwired to think that long hair = sexual availability? If we push the boat out a little further, no one wants to think of an older woman in that light, as an active sexual being (old people don’t have sex!), so on goes the invisible social pressure to lop those locks!
As I head into the second half of my life I am absolutely a sexual being! And I am going to continue to advertise it, my long hair is staying. I have lost 20cm off the length, rediscovered my waist in the process. Strangely enough none of my girlfriends have noticed, they just all thought I looked healthier?! Obviously a change in the right direction, my style family is romantic-creative so long hair is a perfect fit for me. How do you find your style family? Catch you up on that next time.
Be your formidable self,
Check this out! The stunning photo above is from this fantastic story-