What is it about older people that makes us uncomfortable to see them express physical individuality and long to get them into a barber's chair for that traditional baby-bird-looking crop you see on grandpas everywhere? I mean, I certainly feel that way when I see almost- or definitely geriatric dudes with a Willie Nelson thing going on. A HuffPo piece asks this question in, um, a different, perhaps slightly hyperbolic way. "Do older women with long hair look like something akin to a Halloween hag with a wretched, withered appearance?" And, oddly enough, I do sort of have an instinctive and unfair sterotypical image of the long-haired 50+ woman: she's friends with your weird aunt, she wears a Three Wolf Moon t-shirt and a shawl she bought on St. Mark's Place, she gives you unsolicited and descriptive sex advice in crowded restaurants, etc. Obviously, this is a hella-shitty snap judgment to make and I'm not proud of it—why is it so common?
The website's 50-and-older vertical did a crowdsource of opinions on the matter, and the comments are pretty divisive. The way people seem to interpret older women who choose to wear their hair seems a lot more indicative of these judgmental folks than the long-haired ladies themselves: "I've seen older women with very long hair or hair extensions that go way down their backs. They do look ridiculous ... so do their wrinkles and makeup... They're trying too hard to rejuvenate their youth. And those who are very old and wrinkled with black hair and black eyebrows … geez … OMG. Get a grip!"
Another woman remarks that her hairdresser and husband convinced her to keep hers long, and that the look was "thriving" in New York City. As for the hairdressers themselves, they seem to be firmly on the side of YOLO (as long as the woman's hair is healthy enough to endure when it's long):
"The tradition of older men and women maintaining short hair mostly stems from the inevitable depletion of density and moisture. If aging has served you well and [you've] maintained an adequate thickness and shine the stylists at The Drawing Room New York see no reason not to keep a longer length."
However, the hairdressers (and most of the women) put the kibosh on older guys with ponytails, and suggest an alternative: "Also, I've seen some great toupees lately that look real if your hair is deficient." Oh GOOD. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
Image via katerinamk/Shutterstock