I, umm, kind of don’t want to, because we’ve been talking a LOT about the body image side of things in the past week (especially Fat Talk, Fat Talk Haters, and how I feel about being a little fat now). And I’m ready to get back to Beauty U and some of the other Beauty Things that make up the whole varied mix here at Beauty Schooled.
Dominique Browning is asking New York Times readers “Why Can’t Middle Aged Women Have Long Hair?“
Well, my long hair is indeed a declaration of independence. I am rebelling, variously, against Procter & Gamble, my mother, Condé Nast and, undoubtedly, corporate America in general. Whereas it used to be short hair that was a hallmark of being a liberated woman — remember the feminist chop? I do; I did it — these days, long hair is a mark of liberation.
A good portion of the blogosphere is too distracted by 55-year-old Browning describing herself as middle-aged to do anything about the main thrust of the piece. I suggest we press on from that and talk about where she drops the ball. It sort of sneaks up on you, what with all the talk of liberation and sticking it to corporate America and toxic styling products.
But then, at the very end, she says:
Men like to play with women’s long hair. They like to run their fingers through heavy tresses. They like to loosen tight braids. They like it when long hair tents over their faces during soulful kisses. The long of it is that long hair is sexy. (So is short hair, of course, but in a different way, and we’re not making that case — yet.) The short of it is that long hair means there is always, at least, hope. [Emphasis mine.]
She gives short hair that throwaway “of course,” but I’m still not loving how she implies that short hair on an older woman (or perhaps any woman?) communicates an unattractive, unsexy, towel-thrown-in utter lack of hope.
It’s great that Browning is challenging the age bias by wearing long hair past when it’s socially acceptable. It’s pretty stupid that we have a rule about when women have to cut their hair off and even more inane that they have to dye their gray hair in order to stay employed.
But you’re not a beauty standard rebel if your reason for rebellion is rooted in yet another beauty standard. You’re just holding on to all the same old beauty baggage as always.
What do you think? Is Browning breaking the mold with her gray tresses? Or does the Great Hair Length Debate just reinforce our friend, the beauty ideal?