July 26, 2012

"I know this doesn’t sound very liberated, but I find women over 40 with very long hair unsettling..."

"... particularly if it is straight and hangs more than a few inches below the shoulder. (And don’t get me started on straight, blond long hair on women over a certain age!) They look rather sad and dated to me — as if they’re desperately trying to rechannel Joni Mitchell in her heyday."

82 comments:

Carol said...

Plead guilty and have to agree with the assessment of how it looks, but I have the kind of hair that does not work cut short (according to my stylist). It's hard to keep it just at the right length because it grows and stuff.

But I suppose I'm supposed to get all up in arms about the inequity and sexism of it all. Meh.

ndspinelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ndspinelli said...

Her music sounds like Gregorian Chant.

glenn said...

Few things on this planet look sillier than Boomer Chick trying to look like a cheerleader. For God's sake ladies, go to Paris, see what sexy well dressed mature women look like.

Bob Ellison said...

I have a beautiful wife with short hair and a beautiful sister with long. Neither is young enough to escape this author's net. Both work, and the hair works for them.

EDH said...

Part of the reason I studied law was I've always considered it one of the "bad hair" professions (i.e., where really bad hair can be an asset).

Law professor I suppose is a two-fer in that category.

MadisonMan said...

I have the same thought about men with long hair.

bandmeeting said...

It is at least partially because these women with long hair don't arrange it very well. Their hair is often frizzy or really curly and just all over the place. Hair like this even makes Helena Bonham-Carter look scary (I suppose that the years also has something to do with that).

Ann Althouse said...

@Carol I know the problem and the solution is to wear it pinned up somehow, like a French twist.

A lot has to do with the texture of the hair, which changes as you get older. It can get wiry as it turns gray which makes it hard to deal with short. But it can also get thin, which makes it really bad long.

In the old days, professional women wore hats -- indoors. It's what distinguished the lawyers from the secretaries in the big Wall Street firms in the old days.

FloridaSteve said...

huh?

Ann Althouse said...

"Hair like this even makes Helena Bonham-Carter look scary (I suppose that the years also has something to do with that)."

Some women are trying to scare you.

traditionalguy said...

Long hair says lots of grooming time is required, like on those Westminster Dog Show winners with hair puffed up and hanging down to the floor.

A working dog or a working wife has better uses of her time.

Trophy wives would be the exceptions. They are hard at work displaying how rich and powerful their husband is.

Jay said...

I don't think short hair is at all attractive on women at any age.

sydney said...

I have the same thought about men with long hair.

Especially when worn in a pony tail.

Ann Althouse said...

And face it, lots of people ARE scared of women with power over them. They expect you to be nice and benevolent, because you're a woman, but if you have power, no matter what you do, you won't fit the expected feminine role. So any little thing might scare people. Then that fear will translate consciously to a diminishment of the woman: She's old/unsexy/unattractive.

I recommend consciousness-raising.

edutcher said...

The rule I once heard was, if a woman is over 40, she should either wear it shout or pin it up.

YMMV.

Widmerpool said...

The worst:

Ponytails

yashu said...

I think older women with long hair can look fantastic.

I especially love long gray hair. Of course it helps if you have a beautiful face, like Emmylou Harris.

Emilie said...

I see older women with long silver and white hair, or long hair of any color, and often think that they look absolutely terrific.

On the other hand, an older woman with long hair should be aware that when anyone who ever saw a Disney movie looks at her, on some subconscious level a small, scared voice is whispering, "Uh oh. The witch."

Aridog said...

Nonsense. A woman's hair length should be her choice, just as it is for men. What difference does the hair length make if it is clean and well brushed/combed?

Is it about how the woman feels about herself, or whether she's abiding the edicts of style mavens? Style like Mizz Wintour perchance? Bwahahaha.

Ann Althouse said...

"Long hair says lots of grooming time is required, like on those Westminster Dog Show winners with hair puffed up and hanging down to the floor."

Actually, long hair is much less work than short hair if you have the kind of hair that's better long. You don't have to get it cut all the time. You don't have to keep washing and drying it to fluff it up. You can always go with a ponytail/twist/bun when anything isn't working. I had long hair for many years, and all I did was brush it and wash it every 5 days or so. It was completely easy.

Bob Ellison said...

Widmerpool, yes, a ponytail on a man is a dreadful sin that will doom us all. But a ponytail on a woman, tucked in the back window of a baseball cap, is the difference between those of us who love females and those who don't.

BarryD said...

Mary-Louise Parker turns 48 in a week. She looks great with long hair.

Zaretsky should speak for herself.

Also, 40 is not old any more.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Depends on your hair (weight, curl, straight, thin, thick) whether you can wear a longer style or not.

Personally I like my hair cut in a blunt/stacked cut that is chin lengt. Just a couple of inches shorter than the style Althouse is wearing in her photo. It is flattering on my "mature" features (lol) and easy to take care of and style. My hair is thick and wavy. I need to do nothing more than a bit of curl lock gel and let it air dry or just a quick touch with the blow dryer and brush it out. Tah dah.....done for the day.

When I was younger and the wild Farrah Fawcett mane was in...I was in style. But now long hair is a pain. Takes forever to dry and is just too heavy.

Hoever....in an office/professional setting, as long as it looks well kept (you don't look like you just woke up and rolled out of bed) and you do your job....who cares about the length.

bandmeeting said...

Some women are trying to scare you

Helena Bonham-Carter is going to have to try harder. I'm not there yet, and would welcome to opportunity for her to do this in person.

tim in vermont said...

Being in my mid fifties, I find many "women of a certain age" hot. Long blonde hair, which I am not stupid enough to think is natural, works for a lot of them, short hair works for others.

Perhaps, just perhaps, these women are more interested in male attention than the approval of personal is political bloggers.

edutcher said...

In the immortal words of Daffy Duck, "Let'th try that again".

Shoulda been,

The rule I once heard was, if a woman is over 40, she should either wear it short or pin it up.

TosaGuy said...

It's not about long hair, it's about giving a crap about one's whole appearance....and I don't mean being all vain about it either. It is about looking professional and interested. Pair long, stringy gray hair with bad clothes and I think hippy burnout who probably just came from a drum circle at the state capitol.

Hair style fits the individual. Simply having long hair because you don't care generally is not a good look. Worst hair though is the short curly hair of Patty and Selma Simpson.

Icepick said...

Joni Mitchell? That would be more like women over 50, or even 55. A 41 year-old probably didn't bother listening to crap from the 1970s. We had our own crap to listen to!

rhhardin said...

Dobermans have self-cleaning hair.

I recommend genome sequencing.

Shanna said...

Long hair says lots of grooming time is required

Short hair requires lots of work too, it's just different kind of work.

I think whether short or long hair works for you depends on YOU. I don't really care if somebody once upon a time made up some rule about it.

Christopher in MA said...

I happen to find very long hair - thigh to ankle length - very sexy.

Joni Mitchell, not so much.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Short hair requires lots of work too, it's just different kind of work

Depends. The biggest "work" for me is to remember to make an appointment to keep the cut in bounds.

I hate to spend a lot of time messing with my hair (or shopping for clothes and shoes) so this style is best for me....until I change my mind and want to try something else :-)

Like you said. Pick a style that works for you and ignore what anyone else says.

ricpic said...

If she's old with hair long grey
The woman is a witch -- okay?

Althouse's recommendation of consciousness raising better be directed primarily at women, 'cause they're the ones most vociferous about the impossibility of working - without constant "issues" - under other women.

Fprawl said...

Ann's got a Drudge-Like juxtaposition going with her profile to the right of the post.

Christy said...

Are we confusing TV professional women with real live professional women?

My feminist side got all indignant about how women are held to a different standard, but then remembered how sad all those balding men with a comb-over are.

Women just have more opportunity to look sad. There is nothing more discombobulating that seeing a woman with a great figure, sexy clothes, exciting hair and then she turns and you see her haggard face. Which wouldn't have looked quite so haggard had she not given us such a contrast.

Sad too are women who wear the same makeup and hair they wore when they were 16. (I was at the cosmetic counter the other day announcing I needed an updated look, then proceeded to argue over every suggestion. Ha!)

Irene said...

"So any little thing might scare people. Then that fear will translate consciously to a diminishment of the woman: She's old/unsexy/unattractive."

Hillary Clinton. Consider the press she's gotten since she let her hair grow.

ad hoc said...

Well, I have completely inappropriate hair for my age - long hair, well over 40. I am too cheap and too lazy to keep it cut short enough so that it doesn't touch the bottom of my collar. It takes about 5 minutes to put it in a bun for work. Some hairstyle choices are not about stylishness.

Hagar said...

It's not the length; it is the do.

Hillary has never had much sense of style, and now it looks like she does not much care any longer.

And I do not like the long style that has shown up on some TV announcers this year - young or old.

Andy R. said...

The disproportionate focus on women's appearances in professional settings compared to the focus directed at men is sexist.

chickelit said...

Andy R. said...
The disproportionate focus on women's appearances in professional settings compared to the focus directed at men is sexist.

That's a crock of shit. Imagine the ridicule a man would endure in a law firm if he came to work looking like Yanni.

AllieOop said...

Ann and Shanna are correct, shorter hair styles are more trouble, especially with my hair texture. Very long hair depends on the skin of the older woman who is wearing it, less wrinkles, a woman can pull it off, average amount of wrinkles keep it shoulder length, very wronkled, chin length. Same thing goes with color, watch skin tone and wrinkles, adjust color to soften. Another great product available for colored hair, a product that adds shine, works wonders, colored hair tends to be dull and matt toned.

Longer hair can be pulled up into a twist easily, especially with all the great clips, combs and do dads available now. Also have to agree that longer straight hair is not as attractive as curls, it's softening the aging features that can make or break a hairstyle. IMO.

AllieOop said...

Wronkled= wrongly accused of being wrinkled;)

Marshal said...

"They don’t exist, and the reason why is because no one cares what a man’s hair looks like, so long as he’s doing his job, and doing it well — and even if he’s doing an awful job, his hair (or lack thereof) isn’t going to affect his performance reviews."

I don't think very many men think long hair on an older woman means anything. This is such a small issue it's hard to take seriously, but...

It's so tiring seeing this gender warrior whiner claptrap. If a guy has a combover would it not effect how he was viewed? Or pulled back in a pony tail? Of course it would. Why are these gender warriors incapable of thinking for five seconds before asserting everything is discriminatory against women?

Is their goal to prove the worst stereotypes of feminists as humorless and perpetually-aggrieved whose goal is to receive the same for less sacrifice? The truth is men have already internalized and accepted the same issues complained about here. Grow the fuck up! Don't complain about having to make the same sacrifices as men in order to succeed as they do.

Andy R. said...

It's so tiring seeing this gender warrior whiner claptrap. If a guy has a combover would it not effect how he was viewed? Or pulled back in a pony tail? Of course it would.

I don't disagree with this. My comment was about the focus on women and their appearance, and the way they dress. I wasn't arguing that men's hair does not or cannot have any impact on their career. How many articles do you think are written about women and their hair versus men and their hair?

How much attention is paid to how women dress vs. how men dress? How often was Palin's appearance and dress commented on versus for Joe Biden?

Do you think it is equal? When women are prominent in business or politics or some other field and the commentary about them disproportionately focuses on their appearance while men are evaluated based on their intellect, that is sexist.

Carol said...

"Especially when worn in a pony tail."

In defense of my advanced age and deceptively youthful hair, I point an accusing finger at all the old greybeard ponytailed Boomer dudes on bicycles, Harleys, or playing guitars, without the least self-consciousness. I am embarrassed for them.

I think Ann needs to address this phenomenon in the near future.

Bender said...

Old Lady Hair -- yet another of those hideous ideas that have been foisted on women. Thankfully, more and more women these days are rejecting the idea and allowing their natural beauty, with longer hair, to shine though.

Ken said...

Andy,

The disproportionate focus on women's appearances in professional settings compared to the focus directed at men is sexist.

Tough. Men and women are different. Deal with it. In fact, the diversity training I just took two weeks ago explicitly stated that I should treat men and women differently, as well as people from different backgrounds differently. This leftist PC crap was so contradictory that I laughed at some of the things I read. Things that you, Andy, would take gut wrenchingly serious.

Marshal said...

"I don't disagree with this."

Nobody cares what you think, you're an asshole.

Sorun said...

Andy is the perpetually offended douchebag. Andy and Debbie Downer could do comedy routine together.

Bender said...

The rule I once heard was, if a woman is over 40, she should either wear it short or pin it up.

It's not the length; it is the do.


The problem is that the people who made and make those "rules" about fashion, and who disproportionately decree what is in style, are hat-wearers who go for boys, not girls, and thus do not have a clue as to what is attractive for women as women.

Carnifex said...

@Andy

Yeah I can ee where you're going with that. Sorta like how every conservative woman is open season for leftist to make mysoginistic comments about. Seems to be a particular failing if the liberal mindset.

As far as men not caring, ask a bald guy, or worse yet, the guy with the comb-over how he feels about hair being irrelevant to judgeing a man.

Sounds more a case of a personal foible, than a true fault in society for the writer.

My wife is 55, and she can only wear a collar length haircut. It's all that fits her features.

Our friend that is rooming with us used to be a model, she's 55 and wears pony tails, and is smokin'. Clothes will makes more of an impression than hair style.

And long hair looks horrible on any man, even Orlando Bloom.

acm said...

It's true that women are judged on their appearance more than men on most things...but here, women actually make out better. Men over with long hair had better be okay with looking like Willie Nelson or Ward Churchill or the loser puppeteer in Being John Malkovich. Women have much more leeway in choosing how long to grow their hair. Which is fine, because my hair, when short, is Shirley Temple hair on a good day, finger-in-light-socket on a bad day. If I grow it to the middle of my back, I can achieve Veronica Lake hair on a good day, with fairly minimal effort, and on a bad day I can pin it up and only have to re-tame it every few hours. My poor brother with the same hair has to keep it *very* closely cropped or he gets permanent bedhead, which would definitely look unprofessional, and he can't grow it to a more easily-managed length without looking like a loser either...his choices are military look, neglected child, or hippie loser.

deborah said...

Ann Althouse said...
And face it, lots of people ARE scared of women with power over them. They expect you to be nice and benevolent, because you're a woman, but if you have power, no matter what you do, you won't fit the expected feminine role. So any little thing might scare people. Then that fear will translate consciously to a diminishment of the woman: She's old/unsexy/unattractive.

I recommend consciousness-raising.
-----

These people never had female school teachers?

I find this cut adorable on this woman:

http://i.huffpost.com
/gen/324513/thumbs/s-
MEGYN-KELLY-large300.jpg

chickelit said...

Carol remarked about pontail on men: I think Ann needs to address this phenomenon in the near future.

make that beshorted men with ponytails.

LordSomber said...

I call it Freedom Hair™ -- "Freedom Means Letting Yourself Go"

http://pungeon.blogspot.com/2012/03/say-it-with-hair-freedom-means-letting.html

Chip Ahoy said...

Helena Bonham-Carter I know who that is. She should get an Oscar for her gripping portrail xxx portrayal of the Red Queen. The little red heart for lipstick was great, and high laced boots. Lots of lace. Vest coat. Great costuming.

The scary hair that gets me is the Morticia gray streak. Every time I saw Stacy London my impulse is to dye her hair myself. Same with Charles Shaughnessy, the guy on the Nanny.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


I find this cut adorable on this woman:


That is basically my cut, except with a bit shorter bang, more blunt in the front, not angled downward and forward and MUCH curlier. I usually just wear the sides tucked behind my ears.

Easy cut and easy to style. I'm all about less fuss.

yashu said...

the Morticia gray streak

Famously worn by Susan Sontag as well. I actually love that look.

Michael said...

The Professor wrote:"And face it, lots of people ARE scared of women with power over them. They expect you to be nice and benevolent, because you're a woman, but if you have power, no matter what you do, you won't fit the expected feminine role. So any little thing might scare people. Then that fear will translate consciously to a diminishment of the woman: She's old/unsexy/unattractive.

I recommend consciousness-raising.'

You should really think about leaving the academy and going back into private practice. You are way behind the real world curve. You might be in the middle of it in the academy but you are way behind in the actual rough and tumble of the actual world. No one I know in business at a high level would read those paragraphs and not laugh.

I recommend consciousness.

leslyn said...

And long hair looks horrible on any man, even Orlando Bloom.

Not on #52....
Clay Matthews, Sexy and I Know It

Christopher in MA said...

Jeez, Marshal and Soren, I don't like Hat, either, but his comment at 11.41 was spot on. Cut the guy a break for once.

leslyn said...

Andy R. said...
The disproportionate focus on women's appearances in professional settings compared to the focus directed at men is sexist.

7/26/12 11:18 AM

Absolutely right.

AllieOop said...

I always thought Tasha Tudor had a great look with her long gray braid and hat and flowing skirts.

bearing said...

"The disproportionate focus on women's appearances in professional settings compared to the focus directed at men is sexist."

The disproportionate focus isn't in the professional settings. It is in the newspapers and magazines. Bad hair And unprofessional appearance reflects as poorly on men as it does on women (at least in the same job; perhaps one gender predominates in jobs that require a professional appearance).

You could just as easily say that it is sexist against men that so little information is out there to let them know how they can proactively avoid bad clothes and bad haircuts. I say, let's raise awareness of bad hair among men.

ALP said...

Its not just about hair...the underlying bone structure of the face is relevant. As we get older, our faces basically start falling off our skulls...gradual movement downward. Long hair accentuates this. However, if a woman has good cheekbones, this seems to counteract the downward visual pull. Thus...if an older woman looks good in longer hair, she's usually got fabulous cheekbones.

Shanna said...

I hate to spend a lot of time messing with my hair ...so this style is best for me

That's kind of how I feel about long hair. When my hair is short it's really thick, so it's poofy and you have to use more styling, etc...

I'm still on the 'right side' of 40, though. I think I'll still feel the same by then, but we'll see.

Christy said...

I had the Morticia white streak for a long time. My hair stylist liked it and designed my hair around it. Then one day, streak no more. (Although an up swept french twist is still very streaky and amuses me.) I did the EmmyLou look for a while, but I quickly wearied of having to wash all that hair every other day. Unlike Althouse, my hair drove me nuts if it wasn't washed often. The Anna Wintour bob works for me.

Carnifex said...

@leslyn

Okay. Maybe Clay. But no other men. He's the exception that proves the rule :-)

leslyn said...

@Carnifex:

:-) back atcha.

How are you feeling? Is your wound better?

deborah said...

@DBQ Sounds cute...women with curly hair are so lucky. I have fine hair, luckily with a slight wave. I've found what seems to work for me is a blunt cut, about two-thirds down toward the base of the neck, with bangs. Often tucked behind the ears :)

ken in sc said...

I sent a copy of this to my daughter. She is on partner-track at a national biglaw firm in Atlanta.

Darcy said...

I guess I don't care what people arbitrarily decide how women over 40 should wear their hair. Mine is longish, and I'm 49. I don't feel slighted by those who have a different preference. I'll cut it shorter someday. Or not. But right now, I like it just fine.

Darcy said...

I did have a guy at the gym describe me as the "lady with the pretty hair" last week.

It went right to my head. =)

Marshal said...

"Christopher in MA said...
Jeez, Marshal and Soren, I don't like Hat, either, but his comment at 11.41 was spot on. Cut the guy a break for once."

It doesn't matter whether he's right on any particular topic. He's here to be an asshole, he should be told to go away or ignored.

Dopey said...

there are hair styles for men that don't age well either. Envision a 60 year old guy with a pony tail and the obligatory bald spot. What's the first word that comes to mind? Pedophile?

Dopey said...

there are hair styles for men that don't age well either. Envision a 60 year old guy with a pony tail and the obligatory bald spot. What's the first word that comes to mind? Pedophile?

Marshal said...

"Dopey said...
there are hair styles for men that don't age well either. Envision a 60 year old guy with a pony tail and the obligatory bald spot. What's the first word that comes to mind?"

Accountant, but only because I know one.

wyo sis said...

I want that Barbie! If every woman had Barbie cheekbones it wouldn't matter how they did their hair.

Carol said...

I always admired Maggie Thatcher's hair. Now that was some professional hair! It never moved; it was like a helmet. When I saw her, I knew I'd never make it with my hair.

Unknown said...

I'd perform fellatio on Willie Nelson because of his long hair, and I am as straight as Obama's cocaine razor.

Mel said...

I am 43 and have very long, very curly, very black hair some of it beginning to turn white. I'm considering having a professional color it, but no way will I have it cut. It suits me this length and a short cut makes me look like my mother, who died many years ago, but my daddy still can't take seeing me with short hair.
I wash it every 4th day or so, towel it to dampness, and let it dry naturally. I love my hair and to heck with what anyone thinks...also I have strong cheek and jaw bones, so the long hair doesn't pull my face down.