This is about hair. My hair. But allow me to begin with a parable.
I was going through my husband’s closet not too long ago and found his beloved USA pullover hanging there, awaiting the moment when 1995 would become retro-chic.
I loved that pullover like I loved Bruce Willis. It was first-generation fleece – the kind Grandma uses to sew you a knock-off Snuggie. It had “USA” embroidered across the chest in big white letters, but the fleece was as flaming red as my husband’s Geo Tracker (yes, you read that right).
I was always borrowing it because it smelled like Hugo Boss and Head & Shoulders. But like milk and “Party of Five,” most things have an expiration date. USA’s was past due.
“Honey, let it go,” I said, trying to pull USA from his grip.
“It’s Ralph Lauren!”
He considered this for a moment. Then held USA out in front of him and studied it. Then, suddenly, he saw the truth. He saw the light. He saw a sweatshirt my mother would kill to wear at the annual 4th of July party.
So what does a 90’s pullover have to do with my hair? Hopefully nothing. But I’m going to let you be the judge of that.
See, I’ve been growing my hair out for over a year. And through this long, arduous process, I’ve gotten a little attached. I run my fingers through it constantly, I bathe it in Moroccan oil. I get it “trimmed” but never “cut.”
But I’m worried that I’m turning into the Heidi Montag of hair and I won’t know when enough is enough. I’m worried that I’m wearing the USA pullover and no one has the decency to run interference.
Or maybe they have.
“Your hair – it’s so long.” I’ve heard it a lot lately. Not “beautiful.” Not “pretty.” It’s a statement of fact rather than quality. When you can’t ignore the elephant in the room, but you can’t say something nice, you simply state what is: “Now that’s a dress,” or “I see you colored your hair.”
So let me ask you this: Is my hair too long? And how long is too long for a mom in her mid thirties? But let’s stay away from actual measurements because, one, I can’t measure, and two, I appear to have an extra vertebra or three in my neck. A 5” long bob on the averaged-necked woman would look like a crew cut on me, so measurements don’t really translate. But where on the body does Kardashian glamour end and Crystal Gale kitsch begin? I look through magazines filled with long-locked women, their hair extending far past their shoulder blades. Then again, I also see adult onesies cut from zebra print.
And while I appreciate the spirit of “do whatever makes you happy,” that’s not the kind of advice I’m seeking. This isn’t about self-esteem; I feel good about myself with or without this much hair. I’m asking the equivalent of “ballet flats” or “platform heel,” “skinny” or “flared.” I’m asking because I don’t want to be the girl driving a Geo Tracker in 2011.