I had my hair cut properly yesterday, in a very cool salon, in central London; a rare occurrence but it was a birthday present from my son, says Elaine Kingett. I hate all that faffing around with products and implements. It’s one of the reasons my hair is long – I’m a low-maintenance woman whose hair and face has to shut-up and look after itself. But it’s not the main reason.
I’m like Samson, cut off my hair and I lose my power. It’s my security blanket, something to hide behind and fill in the gaps between my ears and shoulders. As a Baby Boomer, I admit my hair is a bit of a hippie statement, a reference to liberality, creativity and an avant-garde lifestyle. A couple of years ago, feeling insecure about my image as a 60-something and imagining the need to be taken more seriously, I succumbed to the Old Wives’ Tale that women of a certain age should not have hair below their shoulders and that short hair makes you look younger; I went for the chop. It was a disaster. I felt de-feminised, stripped of my sexuality and all my clothes looked wrong. I rarely wear dresses or heels and realised that, however pathetically, I needed the security of my mane to mark me as a woman. Nowadays of course, long hair, especially long grey, is fashionable and aspirational for older women.
The pixie cut with its photo-fit silhouette is most definitely not the only option, even if the lovely James at George Northwood salon, who did such a brilliant job with my long hair, still gets it requested. We need to give ourselves permission to look how we want to look, the way that suits our lifestyle and our personality. We have no more need to conform to society’s assumptions now, than at any age.
Elaine Kingett runs writing workshops at Write It Down!