Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Long Hair (Or, A Lady Godiva Complex?)

It's five minutes before test time in a college classroom, but the scuttle in the hall outside has nothing to do with the chapters in question and everything to do with hair accessories.

"Does anyone have a ponytail holder? I forgot mine," a twenty-something girl shouts.
"I've got a clip," a thirty-something woman offers.
"My hair's too thin for those things," a forty-something woman says. "That's why I need rubberbands."
The first girl nods in empathy.
"I have an extra scrunchy," another young woman announces.
The first girl sighs with relief as she accepts the fabric-covered elastic. "Life saver."

When I was in college, this pre-exam interchage would never have happened. The styles back then included bobs...


and teased hair sprayed so thickly that strands rarely fell into the face.

(Yeah, it's me. Junior year of college. My hair's not thick enough to get really big, but you get the idea.)

Since hair fashions, like any other type of fashion, are always changing, long hair eventually came back in style. First, it was long straight hair, causing every wavy- and curly-haired girl to buy a flat iron or seek expensive Keratin treatments. But now it seems long, natural tresses are in, so anything goes.

Which leads me to the college classroom observation. In the class being tested, there are thirteen females ranging in age from 18-47, and each and every one of them (including me, the professor) has hair at least five inches below the shoulder. (And not one of them has bangs - another aspect of hair fashion that seems to have gone the way of perms.) These women ususally wear their long hair loose and flowing, but today almost all of them have it pulled back in a bun or the sloppy-style ponytail, another fashion newbie. They look so darned studious it's all I can do not to stand up and cheer them on to an "A".

Why is long hair so popular? With all the maintenance required for most of us to make long hair look good, why does this fashion continue coming back around?

Easy. It's feminine, versatile, and flattering to most faces. While it takes a naturally beautiful face to pull off a short hair style well, an otherwise average-looking girl is flattered by long layers around her face. And no man can deny the sex appeal of a woman wearing an up-do to expose typically-covered neck and shoulders.

Despite our historical (not to be confused with hysterical) cries for equality, it seems we women still crave the feeling of femininity. And why not? We are not men, after all, and working with our sexuality, sensuality, or whatever we've got has always been a useful tool in this man-controlled world.  From the 11th century days of Lady Godiva (whose long mane did more than simply cover her necessities) to the 21st century hair fashions, long hair is here to stay.
Lady Godiva

So how do you wear your hair?


  1. At my daughter's suggestion, I've definitely gone longer, and seem to keep going longer with each cut. Looking back now at the short style I wore, I'm not sure I want to go that route again!

  2. You have struck a nerve! I want long flowing hair. I DO, but my hair is so thick (and somewhere after one of the last 2 kidlings) curly, it looks frizzy and unruly when I try growing it out.

    Sure, I could condition it, put anti-frizz stuff in it, flat iron it or, well, just work with it period....but I don't. When it's long it's in a pony tail 99.99% of the time. Invariably I get tired of this and hack it all off.

    I hacked it all off a couple weeks ago.

    FREEDOM! I can hop out of bed and run my fingers through it and run out the door.

    I always thought it would be fun to have a bunch of wigs to play with instead...for when I felt like a change.

  3. I've worn my hair long since, well since forever. It used to be in good shape but since I've hit, (dare I say it) middle age, it's gotten old-looking. No matter how much I dye it. I think I might be up for something new.

  4. Well, right now I keep it a couple inches below my shoulders. My hair is very wavy and very thick, but most of the time I style it, either with the flat-iron or with anti-frizz spray, cream, etc. I'm working on growing it out long enough that ALL the layers fit into the ponytail, etc. Fortunately, my hair grows pretty fast!
    But for a long time, I had very, very short hair! It was fun and easy, but hubby likes it longer, and so do I.

  5. Bangs. Just above the shoulder. Guess I'm not too fashionable.

  6. I'm a pretty touch person, so when I walk past my students and they are studying in the library, sometimes I will pat them on the top of the head to say hi- hair extensions!!!

  7. I love the picture of you; it looks so glamorous.

    I'm not keen on long hair when it's grey and I haven't the energy to deal with it anyway so I've got mine short. Sometimes I dye it. I really like it soft and fluffy round my face - when you've got wrinkles you need all the help you can get!

  8. Short,
    Although I must admit in one of my 'hippy' periods mine went halfway down my back. And sometimes Deb used to plait my beard :-)

  9. You are and were so pretty! I love long hair because of all the things you can do with it. Shorter hair is more restricting, I find. I have super fine hair which can be a curse or a blessing because it's so flat yet it never tangles or frizzes.

  10. Love this post! And yes, I think long hair is oh-so-fun. I cut my hair a few months ago, though, and I'm enjoying the shorter tresses. Maybe I'm just lazy. Not as much maintenance. :)

  11. I'm loving this post...just as I love my long hair. How many Victoria Secret models have cropped hair? Not that it's why I keep *mine* long...(really!) but I do think that, for me at least, long hair is sexy. And can do so much more with it.
    And I guess I'm in the minority...'cause I DO have bangs...long ones that I usually sweep off to the side.

  12. I cut my hair to my shoulders this summer, but I'm growing it back long. It just seems to suit me.

    I remember the mullets and teased hair, but I was one of the few in my school who didn't participate in those styles.

  13. My hair is just past my shoulders...I'm growing it a bit because my pony tail is a bit embarrassing...I have a stub sticking out from the back of my helmet. :( I do have bangs again and I'm quite happy with them.

    In the late 80's and 90's I had lllloooonnnnggg permed hair. I miss it and wish it would come back in style.

  14. I wear my hair LONG, no bangs. It's thick and wavy...and in the 80's my hair was BIG.

    I will never, NEVER have short hair.

    I love your picture...then and now. :)

  15. I guess I have a naturally beautiful face!