While I was researching colours, I found an article about hairstyles for women in their forties.
It was the kind of depressing nonsense that makes me want to set fire to the magazine whilst simultaneously back-combing my up-do till it’s somewhere north of a Dolly Parton.
According to this hideously dull and rather chiding commentary, once you’re out of your thirties you must aim at “decent and respectable” with a nod towards “modern”, because anything else would lack grace.
This oppressive approach was followed by almost everything I have since read on the subject. Hair can no longer be hair once it is in its forties. It must become another of the signs that we have grown up and begun to live with an appropriate level of decorum.
Hair mustn’t be too long, especially if it’s grey. Colours should be warm at best and certainly not fun. Styles must not be too sexy and may certainly not be funky. The focus is on smart, tidy and age appropriate, lest we fall into the trap of attempting in any way to express our personalities.
Why do we do this to women? Why do we tell them that as soon as they become a wife, or a mother or of a certain age (that dreadful phrase) that they need to calm themselves down and become a picture of respectability? It’s a sneaky, insidious attitude; don’t be too outrageous, don’t have too much fun. You’re supposed to be at home, tending to others, and keeping up appearances.
I was discussing this with a friend recently. When she was single, she had lots of different colours in her hair, and a kind of innocent, big-eyed gothic look. She was super cute. Yet when she became a wife and mother she was advised to “tone it down”; and dutifully, she did. And now both she and I wonder whether that was the right advice. Of course our look changes as we grow. But to tell someone that the only approach that is suitable for them is a toned down and restrained version of themselves cannot be right. Time for the super-cute girl to return, I think.
I have long hair and it has always been brown. Sometimes with highlights of blonde or copper, sometimes with warm chocolate tones, but always brown.
And after reading that research, and with encouragement from a friend, it’s now red. It’s not decent or modest or tidy. I’m not going to blend into the back ground.