I will not go quietly into the long dark night of short hair for woman over forty five.

Apparently there’s this unwritten rule that women over a certain age aren’t supposed to have long hair. We’re supposed to enter our forties and adopt a shoulder length bob and then as we approach our fifties and beyond, lop all of it off into some sort of boyish cut, like “mom jeans” for the head and by this I mean along the lines of that analogy they used: you’re a not a woman anymore, so don’t try to look like one. To this, I reply Bullsh*&.

I will not go quietly into the long dark night of short hair for women over forty five.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I’m sick of my hairstyle. It’s been about the same for ten years. Actually, most of my life. I have tried short hair. I look terrible in it. I’ve tried bobs. But the left side of my hair flips up and out, and the right curls down and in, so whenever I wear the bob, no matter how much hairspray, I look like I’m caught in a perpetual crosswind from my right.

I’ve tried color. For a while in my twenties, I had auburn hair. I thought it looked okay. It made my eyes “pop”, everyone said. Except my husband. Who didn’t notice my color had changed from my natural shade of dishwater blond. (I don’t know, I think the Cubs were on.)

My daughter wants some colored highlights in her hair. I’m thinking about it. She’s thirteen. It’s a mostly harmless way for her to express herself. But I wonder if she would still think pink highlights would be cool if her mother beat her to the punch.

Do not suggest a perm. I am still not fully recovered from the disastrous one I got in my senior year of high school.

It can’t be too short, either; I like to be able to pull my hair back into a ponytail. Not just for work, but for running and yoga, too. For a while, I was even thinking of helping out Mary Tyler Mom with her campaign to get ChicagoNow bloggers to shave their heads to raise money for St. Baldricks  Mary Tyler Mom: Barbie vs. Cancer  She was asking the guys to do it, but what if a woman did? I know! But I am such a chicken. And I bet I’d get into trouble at work, which, now that I think about it, could make it worthwhile.

About five years ago, a well-meaning proprietor of a boutique clothing store told me my hair was inappropriate for a woman my age. A woman my age. You know what, bite me. Forget about it. I’ve decided I’m gonna be the old lady with long grey hair, the eccentric character that always lives next door in all the movies; the one with the big heart and an earthy wisdom that she always spouts whenever you see her out in her garden. Which gives me an idea: maybe green highlights.

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  • Thanks for the shout out! And ALL folks are welcome to shave their head to benefit St. Baldrick's mission to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. They've raised over $100 million since they were founded.

    That said, I completely understand the fear factor. A woman has to be 100% badass to go bald. Hard core.

    I applaud your efforts to tell folks who have prescribed notions of what a woman can do or how a woman can look as she ages. I am right behind you in age and those expectations can suck it. Do what you want. A good friend of mine has snow white hair -- it is gorgeous. She just got a deep purple streak in the front. It is stunning and completely complements her blue glasses.

    All a woman needs, no matter her age, is confidence. Best. Accessory. Ever.

    That said, post a photo when you decide!

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    You said it, MTM! Confidence is key!
    For some reason my link to your blog isn't working! I don't know what's up, but until I fix it in the blog, here it is: http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom/2012/01/barbie-v-cancer/

  • Kim,

    Thanks for this great article! I've heard this stupid "rule" about the hair length of women over a certain age so much that I began to wonder if I should chop off my hair, despite being more comfortable with it the way it is. Silly me. Thanks for the reminder that this notion is a pile of crap. Another bad idea is cutting your hair after you get married. I actually did that; it didn't work out well!

    If you're tired of your hair, highlights of any color are always fun. Layers are great too, just keep it long. It looks good on you! I grew up right down the street from you (corner of Mill Rd. & George St.), and you still look as young as you did back then.

  • In reply to Mommybot:

    Hi Mommybot! Thanks for the comment and the kind words! Okay, now you need to reveal your real identity! (unless it will hinder your super-powers)

  • In reply to KimStrickland:

    No super powers here! My four-year-old picked the name. My name is Helen Konopka Blum. Went to St. Peter & Lake Park. I'm glad I came across your blog, I've really enjoyed reading!

  • In reply to Mommybot:

    Hi Helen! Thanks for reconnecting! Go Lancers!

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    Thank you! I am a 41 yo mom of 5 and have long hair and no plans to cut it short any time soon. It is too curly to be short and look decent, and I am a nurse and like being able to wear it back in a pony tail. I have also heard from "well meaning" people that I should try a style more age and style appropriate. I will also probably be one of those eccentric old ladies w/ long gray hair. And you know what, that's just fine w/ me!

  • i loved reading this. i am struggling as well with the hair....what to do? it's all about the lowlights. that's the word on the street anyway. xoxoxo

  • I always say I will be one of those white haired old ladies with a braid and jeans too! Thanks for saying what I'm thinking. I'm 41, mom of 4, and I'd be lost without my ever-present ponytail!

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    Know what? Ma Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie had, like, a bazillion kids and she kept her hair long and beautiful... and it didn't "get in the way" of sewing or egg-collecting or child-rearing. Screw the "rule" of chopping off hair! I don't see how a bob is any more practical and --I'm with you-- I'd much rather be able to pull it up and out of the way. I distinctly remember my grandmother and several ladies in the church keeping their hair long enough to put up in elegant buns, well into their eighties. I'm following their lead.

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    I am 41 and for the past year have had purple hair. I love it, my kids love it, their friends love it, my friends love it, strangers love it (especially little old ladies!) but my husband not so much. (who cares about him anyway?!) I say go for the pink or green!

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    Hi Kim,
    Thanks for posting this article. I too have long hair, down to my ass. Gets in the way sometimes but I wouldn't even think of cutting it. Many people have tried to convince me otherwise, but I always say NO. They've tried the "Locks of Love" for cancer argument, "a person my age" argument...and others, but none work. My mother did a good job of traumatizing me in grade school, by cutting my long hair into the "fashionable" pixie hairstyle. I looked like a boy and hated it. Never again, except for in the eighties I got it layered...big hair days, took almost three hours to style. Never again. Just long and straight, sometimes wavy curls and occasionally bangs, but never cut length...only dead end trims every now and then. For you, I liked @Mommybot's suggestion....highlights and layers, but keep it long.

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    Why not just cut some layers into your hair? Long layers frame your face and look lovely. You keep the length, maintain a youthful look, and it's perfectly manageable. Blow dry and go.

  • Mom jeans for the head! LOVE!

  • Love you all! Thanks for all the comments!
    I'm starting to think some layers may be the way to go...

  • This is fab! I am 54 and a cancer survivor. I was totally bald at 45 and kept it very short for several years after. Now I have grown it out and the longer it gets the more I love it. I like ponytails and all the fun things I can do with it. I will grow it and grow it until it touches my toes and screw anyone that says I'm too old. After being bald I just want more hair than I know what to do with. Great story!!

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    Teppi, I had no idea! Thank you for the great comment!
    And let's make a pact to braid each other's long hair in our old age!!

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    Hey , you know what? We kinda look alike! I totally agree with you! In my head I'm still 25
    . so I figure I will wear my hair the way I want and feel. Age is just a number! BTW, I'm almost 58! Who cares!

  • In reply to Claudia Cohill:

    Where's that ChicagoNow "Like" button? Thanks for the comment, Claudia (Maybe I could be your evil twin?!)

  • fb_avatar

    Go with the layers. I'm 41 and went with long layers last year to change up my long hair. It still has the same length but I can do more with it. The shortest layer is still long enough to be caught up in a ponytail so it even works on low energy day where I just want a quick fix.

  • In reply to Tricia Williams:

    Yeah, I'm leaning toward layers...
    Thanks for the help with my decision!

  • AMEN!! I love this, Kim!!
    I'm never cutting mine. Aside from a tragic pixie cut when I was 6 (that my mother to this day 'claims' she didn't tell the lady to chop it off) and a preppy bob in high school, I'm a long hair girl! And will be forever! I'd rather be the eccentric old lady with long gray hair than have the 'mom jeans' of haircuts :)

  • In reply to FernRonay:

    I had that tragic pixie cut too, until I was six years old! (dya think mom and dad wanted a boy?) It totally scarred me for life! You grow, girl!

  • fb_avatar

    I too have a story, I had hair past my waist in 2cd grade, then, during a NAP my grandmother cut it off, gapped it up so bad, had to be cut even shorter, to my ears. I swore then, that I'd wear it long, and no one, and I mean NO ONE will ever convince me otherwise.
    Just a few days ago, a "friend" suggested that I'd be "happier" if I would cut it "just to your shoulders" (like hers, mind you) I looked at her like she had lost her mind. Thank you for this article, I am glad I'm not alone. Now, I'm thinking some purple highlights....lol

  • In reply to Delores Ashworth:

    Wait. Your grandmother cut off your hair...while you were sleeping? OMG, that is cold!! ( I think this gives you the right to steal one of the tennis balls off her walker...)
    Thank you for the comment. It makes me feel better about my tragic pixie cut for sure!!

  • Great post! Why pass up a chance to be eccentric? Green hightlights, or even a bald 'do sound awesome if you ever decide to go that way (I've done it. It's awesome to try once. You've never felt such temperatures on your scalp!).

    It's funny -- as a guy I too get the crosswind effect when my hair is medium length (for a dude). This results in me either having long hair or shaving it all and letting it grow! I love the contrasts this cycle offers (while my gf hates the bald look). Maybe i should do it for a good cause next time.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Thanks for the great comments, Dan! If you do decide to go bald for a good cause, may I suggest: http://www.stbaldricks.org/events/mypage/6969/2012 ?? We're all pretty fond of Donna's mom, Mary Tyler Mom, here at ChicagoNow.
    Thanks again for taking the time to comment,
    Kim

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