People are funny about hair. Me, not so much these days. The other day I saw Kelly Osburne on the red carpet rocking a lavender flat top and it suited her. Thirty years ago I might have made a face, but I think now…it’s hair and it’ll grow back. If she doesn’t want it to grow back, whatever. It’s her hair.
I should know, I’ve cut mine drastically at various points over the decades and people have always had something to say. Some of it good, yes, but I’ve been looking for an opportunity to post this GIF.
I’ve never been a girly girl, and I never styled my hair or did anything funky to it beyond raking in a handful of bronzing mousse one time in the tenth grade. As a child my mother always insisted on keeping it cut super short, boy short, presumably because it made life easier for her. I considered the mere act of affixing comb teeth to hair a Herculean chore, so guess who had to pick up the slack and stab at all the hairy tangles?
Hurt like hell, and you would have thought it taught me to take care of my hair. Uh uh.
For much of my adulthood, I’ve kept my hair long. Long. Not Crystal Gayle long, as it’s seemed to grow no more than two and a half feet at the longest. There’s a reason for this, actually two. In my youth, when I had short hair, people often mistook me for a boy. It’s understandable when you’re seven and flat-chested and you don’t wear pink and your face holds no discernible characteristics that would scream SnowflakeDisneyPrincessLittlePony, but when you get to high school…
…especially a high school in a part of the South where short hair on a girl is viewed more as a statement on non-Biblically-approved sexuality than comfort and preference, people assume things. It didn’t matter that I sported this haircut in a time when girly feminine Janine Turner and Linda Evangelista could win universal praise for their “bold” and “daring” looks. I walked out on 103rd Street with short hair to catcalls like HEY BOY and FUCKIN DYKE!
All that over hair. You begin to think Samson had it right when he refused to cut his, but I’m sure in my neighborhood he’d have heard at least one drive-by call him a fuckin’ fairy.
The second reason: nobody EVER cut my hair to my liking. I’d bring in magazines, postcards, glossy eight-by-tens with circles and arrows and yada to Fantastic SuperHair Cuttery and say “Give me this.” I’d show them Pat Benatar and Nina Blackwood, and they’d give me this:
I call this cut the Liberty Bell, because your hair is basically a bell-shaped helmet. It’s too short to pull back into a ponytail and conceal the bell-ness, so the best you can do with it is wear hats (I brought berets to the Westside). From high school through college, every single time I went to a salon with everything but blueprints I came out with the g-d Liberty Bell. It’s like every stylist in town had a file on me with a note attached reading SHE MUST ALWAYS LOOK LIKE ITALIAN VELMA.
If you’ve met me in person in the last ten years or so, you’ve hopefully seen a better version of this:
This is from 2013. Last week my hair was longer – it would have draped well below the RUSH. It was also knotting badly in the back and it’s graying up top. Par for the course, but long hair is a pain in the ass to maintain. When you say you plan to cut your hair, everybody goes, “Oh noes, why you wanna cut it? It’s so beautiful.” It’s my belief the people most affected by your decision to cut hair have never worn it at two feet long or more. It’s heavy. It takes forever to wash. It gets caught in purse straps and car doors. When you bend over to drink from a water fountain it all falls forward into the bowl.
So why have I kept it this length as long as I have?
Vanity. Yes, you can call me out on it. I don’t wear makeup, so I used my long hair to compensate for my perceived lack of femininity. I suppose, too, the occasional thought of a haircut triggers a FUCKIN’ DYKE memory that I’d rather not relive. I should know better, though, to care what people think of me now. I’m not bothered if people mistake me for something other than a cis-gendered heterosexual female, but if you have a problem with my clothing or hair don’t make it mine.
Last week, I decided I no longer wanted the burden. The daughter and I went to our local stylist where she got her bangs trimmed and two inches off the length, and I surrendered eighteen inches:
Thank Ged it’s not the Liberty Bell, but maybe I’ve stumbled on the perfect look for my middle age. And that’s it. I’m not going back to long hair. When I’m seventy I’ll have gone full Judi Dench. Can’t wait.