Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't bend



It is one of the most commented upon articles in New York Times online history. And it is no coincidence that the pen was long time friend and supporter of Blushing Hostess, New York Times contributor, author of Slow Love Life, and former House and Garden editor, Dominique Browning. Those who read Dominique, as I hope you do, know her grace is as fearless and meaningful as her pen.

When, on October 21, 2010, this byline - Fear of Flying a Long Flag of Rebellion - was published it seemed clear a storm was coming. It is the great unsaid thing among women: You will cut your hair as you age. It has something to do with seriousness and how whimsy is expected to appear on novelty sweaters from Talbots with honking big appliqued apples, but not, on your head.



I was thirty-four when, for reasons I had honed for a solid two days, I had my hair cut madly short, for me, anyhow. I had new babies. I was exhausted. It was summer in Florida. I was thirty-four for God's sake and practically dead or so the part-partum illogical thought pattern went. Anyway, Stevie - who always sported a bleached or blue pixie, took it off in long strands - just blond wisps everywhere. I watched it hit the floor with no emotion. It was time. But if, at any other time in my life I had seen my hair about me in hacked piles, I would have swooned.

It wasn't me. It was a mistake. I also am not honey medium brown in hair color and I don't care for curls. Also not me. But I have had to learn all that on the way to this place.



Once it was gone, other signs of my multi-faceted identity remained because you cannot hide from who you really are with the help of a shear.

Above is my hair as it was this summer when Nick revised my tattoo (calm down, haters). One small piece of ink, but that too figures into me - and an identity I adore. It is not at all an identity that was dictated and doesn't mean (to reiterate) that I don't know how to set a table, iron linens, or where the guest of honor's wife can pull up a chair at dinner, okay? They are just puzzle pieces, they don't mean I don't pray.

Life is so much more complicated than hair and ink, but it all builds a spectacular and singular whole. If you can just get up the nerve and time to go with it...

A month before I had my hair cut off, I sat in that same chair before Stevie and we listened to the woman in her mid-forties next to me explain that she needed to have hair like Kate Hudson's in color. She also couldn't cut it because her husband liked her best and was most affectionate towards her when it was long. Stevie and I both cringed: If he loves you, then he loves you. Who cares about your hair?

Screw him, we said to each other over a glass of wine later on. Because we - however unrealistic this may be in truth in some lives - believe that love sees no hair color or cut. And that we choose the style. Because, look, it will always inherently tie back to the woman herself, and consequently, to the girl he fell in love with, no?

So, I pick the poison. I'm platinum, and it is long and a little edgy at times. Not just because that is how I like to keep my hair but also because that's what you get. I don't like my hair to tell lies for me. I'm not sporting a bob and headbands, I want to keep it real. It's far more comfortable.

Dominique, by the same token, is doing the same at fifty-five years old. I am proud of her, but this is only one small reason. She took her stand, in the New York Times no less.

I capitulated to whatever sense society and exhaustion could be mashed together to make to settle on a decision about my hair while a child kept me up all night and our world took some pretty fast and harrowing turns. I've been on the mend ever since.



More or less, as you can see now, I'm there. I am also still kind of exhausted as you also note, but that is another thing altogether.

I'm keeping longish hair.

I've got your back, be fearless. Cut if you want to, but not because social more's flattened your resolve to maintain it. And not because someone else prefers it another way. Do it because you want to see someone you recognize in the mirror. And because she is beautiful that way.

17 comments:

Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

Great post, and oh so much to think about.
Teresa

Stephanie said...

I really enjoyed that article and this post. I wear my hair LONG. It's always been very long. When I was 27 and had my first, it was still long. The shortest it has ever been in my life is to my shoulders. It's me. And if the fact that I entered my 40's just now means I am supposed to change, I won't. Your hair, and your spirit, are beautiful. Wear them both proudly.

High Heeled Life said...

Loved your post and very wise inspiring words!! I'm hitting mid 40s and love my hair long!!! xo HHL

Peggy Braswell said...

I adore D Browning and read her faithfully. Your hair is grand+great post.xx peggybraswelldesign.com

LPC said...

I'm long and blonde and 54, at the moment. It's fun. Mostly I wear it up, just loosely, in a ponytail or whatever, but I am enjoying having the hair back that I cut off at 42.

Karena said...

I think whatever you like and looks good on you!! I read Dominiques post and really enjoyed.

Come and enter my newest Giveaway....I know you will love it!!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Shelly said...

It's amazing to me that people have the nerve to make comments about a womans hair. Four years ago, at the ripe old age of 47 I bid a fond farewell to my hairdresser, I was unemployed and spending what I felt was too much on a fabulous cut and color every five weeks. Some days I miss the pampering, but the chunk of change I don't spend on my hair has been going to the homeless shelter every month... if someone makes a rude comment about my long - streaked with gray hair, I tell them about my choice and it always is met with a bit of stunned silence.

Nan said...

I chopped 14 inches off my hair in February in anticipation of a newborn while juggling a toddler. It was the longest my hair has EVER been. I at times I miss it. But the pixie has its perks...punky little perks.

vignette design said...

Great post. I am 56 and my hair is the longest it's ever been. I know if I cut it now because that's what I'm supposed to do, I would look like a middle aged matron. A few years ago my ex-hairdresser decided to give me a bob! She is 25 sporting a bob and thought I should have one too. Enter the ugly period in my life! I've been growing my hair ever since. ~Delores

EntertainingMom said...

I read that article as well. Like Dominique's my mother is always after me to cut my hair... I don't want to. Why should I? I like it long (for the moment). I feel more self assured, more self confident and a hell of a lot sexier with my hair long. There is no rule that says women of a certain age should have short hair. I'm considering going platinum -- or at least blonder than I am now. But worry about the upkeep...

Next someone is going to tell me that I can't wear skinny jeans and fitted Ts. 40 is the new 30... and as of yesterday 4PM is the new 5PM so we can all cocktail earlier. Cheers!!! ;)

I've tagged you. Hop over to my blog. I would love to see your answers... your 15 favorite authors. Not so easy!

little augury said...

and the going gray is going to catch up with everyone.it hurts, I know. pgt

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

All mothers had short hair when I was growing up in the 70"s and 80's. So I always assumed I would when the time came.

Now as I approach 40 with 4 children, I find myself letting it grow longer, as I had it in my 20's. I look around and see my friends and peers doing the same thing: keeping it long.

I think the whole "mothers and older women must have short hair" thing is both generational and changing.

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

I am loving long hair right now at 53. And, Blushing... your hair looks great and so does Dominique's long thick braid. ; )

gail said...

I have long hair @ age 65, it is also grey. My daughter suggests I cut it, my friends ask how much longer I am going to let it grow...
Long hair is simply a part of me, always has been...

Tish Jett said...

What a stunning, creatively written blog you have.

Yes, of course, I read the article by Dominique Browning, in fact several friends sent it to me. I am and always have been a DB groupie. I bought H&G mainly to read her letter from the editor.

She is such a beautiful, moving writer, I could never get enough of her.

Ah, the hair issue. Whatever makes us happy. Period.

So glad to have found you.

pve design said...

hair and bikinis unite. long, short, one-piece or two-
each time i choose, i say this is the last time, one more pony tail, one more bikini. it's a girl thing.
pve

~ami* said...

LOVE this post. LOVE IT.

Instead of cutting my hair, like most women my age, I'm growing it long...

{and I have tattoos, too...}

:)