What's So Wrong With Older Women Having Long Hair?
Dominique Browning, age 55, tackles the question
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2010 6:00 PM CDT
"Emmylou Harris is still a goddess in my book, with that nimbus of silver hair floating past her shoulders," writes Browning.   (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

(Newser) – Dominique Browning's mother hates her hair. Another friend told her it chips away at her professional credibility. What's so wrong with it? It's long. And not "being a couple of weeks late to the hairdresser long." Long. And it's turning gray, to boot, because Browning is 55. "No one seems to have any problems when a woman of a certain age cuts her hair off. It is considered the appropriate thing to do, as if being shorn is a way of releasing oneself from the locks of the past. So why do people judge middle-aged long hair so harshly?" she writes for the New York Times.

Browning runs down the most common complaints people seem to have: That she's acting out (Hillary Clinton's hair is that of a grown-up; Browning's screams rebellion); that she's trapped in the '70s (there are still no better role models than Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, she argues); that it's so high maintenance (which means ... she can't forget her hairbrush when she travels?); and men like long hair (how is this a complaint?). Such points addressed, the fact remains, "I feel great about my hair." Click here to read the humorous piece in its entirety.

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Showing 3 of 47 comments
Mar 22, 2012 1:26 PM CDT
Personally, when hair is gray and a woman has an aging face, long hair doesn't look sexy. It looks (sorry!) sort of "witchy" or like that of a "mountain woman." Why this is so, I honestly don't know! Perhaps it's society's influence. I'm just being totally honest here. I think women get "stuck in a groove' of what looked good when they were much younger, but things change, they don't stay the same. There's nothing wrong with change! Hanging onto something that fit your past but not your present is just sort of ...pointless. And why oh why does everyone think that if your hair isn't super LONG then it must be BUTCH SHORT? Hello...there is an IN BETWEEN the two extremes? Has everyone forgotten? You may not have to cut it SHORT, yet short ER just might be more attractive on you!
Mar 21, 2012 9:57 AM CDT
First of all, I agree with the sentiment that older women can wear their hair long if they want. This is a free country, right? I don't think I have ever seen a law that states a woman must cut her hair at the age of 40. That being said, I also do believe that a good many older women just look BETTER with shorter or medium length hair...not TOO SHORT ...I don't think that looks good on any women, but that's better saved for another article! The reason I think this, is that SHORTER hair visually PULLS THE FACE UP...shorter hair can make a woman look cuter, fresher, and yes, YOUNGER! Remember when Sara Jessica Parker wore her hair at a shorter length? It actually made her look cuter and spunkier than all that heavy long hair weighing her face down. Okay, you have to take the SHAPE OF YOUR FACE into consideration, no matter what your age. If you have a longer face, than long hair will prob. not be your best bet. Also, you must consider the condition of your hair...if it is very thin and straight, cutting it shorter could make it look fuller and add more movement to it. Also, I think many older women benefit from some curl in their hair around their face, so I don't particular care for the picture that is presented here...in all honesty, it looks a bit messy and just....wrong. If this wom colored her hair, and curled the front parts, I think it would look better. Just my opinion, but if she went for a make-over, they might say the same thing!
Mar 25, 2011 10:11 PM CDT
What a tempest in a teapot! (and I love it). Here is my take: Some very young women look awful with long hair too. I am 47 years old. I take care of my body, skin, hair and teeth. Women with the honey blond hair color in my family don't go gray until their 70s and 80s. People compliment me on my hair all of the time. I considered cutting it last year and my coworkers (both male and female )told me please don't. Why do I have long hair...because it pleases me. I like to condition my hair. When I brush it shines and I enjoy looking at it for myself. It's my hair. It's not community hair. If some young stud is grossed out by my smile lines around my eyes that's his problem. I am not keeping my hair long for men or women. It's not my job to look the way young men think I should for my age. Why do people think that women should cut their hair off at a certain age limit? I think that people's view of sexuality when it comes to natural born older women is still in the dark ages. Quite a few of us are sexual until the day we day of a ripe old age. I say "get over it". If you find it unattractive look the other way. I look the other way at nasty looking tatoos and ugly things that get pierced every day. I have been grossed out by young people's butt cracks hanging out their pants and wondered why some of them didn't realize how fat those things made them look. Every day I deal with the fact that women's casual clothes seem to come in two styles...too revealing or grandma. Why do young men think I care for a moment whether I gross them out with my hair? Do they care that a lot of them gross me out? I don't think so. I am attractive to men my own age and I like that. I am attractive to myself which is even better. Every day I look in the mirror as I dress for work and think ":Damn good for 47" The hair style I hate the most on older women is that round bubble cut. Pair that with a round body and I think at least half of them would look better with a pair of long graying braids. Some women look like their husbands when they cut off their hair and others look beautiful with it short. I think all of us are old enought to realize that one size fits all is a myth. It takes work to remain feminine as a woman ages. I'll do it in my own way and for anyone who doesn't like that I typed this last bit using only the middle finger of my right hand.