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Can Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?

“Jo, how could you, your one beauty!” 
–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


Dominique Browning wrote a column last week for the New York Times Fashion and Style section, Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair? Here is her opener:

“MY mother hates it. My sister worries about it. My agent thinks I’m hiding behind it. A concerned friend suggests that it undermines my professional credibility. But in the middle of my life, I’m happy with it. Which is saying a lot about anything happening to my 55-year-old body. I feel great about my hair.”

I posted the link to the story on the Facebook page for this blog and it drew one comment from a 50-something friend of mine who is growing her hair out long. It’s also gray and she sometimes wears it in little ponytails.

I love that. I think past generations of women were often convinced that short hair was a (mostly) unwelcome requisite of middle-age. Growing up, hardly anybody passed the age of 30 had long hair. We assumed those who did were trying to look young. The irony is that at the time, long hair on middle-aged women had a tendency to make them look dated.

But, now lots of Generation X women have long locks. And, I’m not talking Jennifer Aniston or Julia Roberts. I’m talking about women right here where I live and my best friend from high school and me! It has become completely acceptable to be middle-age and have long hair. I wonder if the next big trend will be long gray hair?

At 55, Browning is actually a Baby Boomer, so perhaps it was the Silent Generation (b. 1925-1942) of women who primarily felt obligated to cut their hair short. Why do you think things have changed?


Photo Credit: Author Toni Morrison, (Born 1931, Silent Generation). I’ve always admired her long, gray hair.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. le@thirdontheright

    long hair, short skirts, red lipstick … what ever works babe 🙂 le xoxo

  2. Territory Mom

    I had to wear short hair as a kid. My mom always made me get a pixie or the shag. I always hated it but I continued to wear short hair until about age 36. Now at 45 it is past my shoulder. The only problem I have it that it is not turning gray fast enough. I love long gray hair, crazy I know. Whenever I get the urge to cut it I think of Dyan Cannon and her beautiful long hair.

  3. Anonymous

    To the original Americans a woman’s hair is her beauty. Short ugly hair was given to us by the baby boomer generation. Because short hair is easy to take care. I say let it grow and be your self expression. Rob


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