If we live long enough

If we live long enough

red long hair with short bangs at computerWe become caricatures of ourselves ~John Irving

And suddenly it happened. I realized I needed to stop completely looking like I did many many years ago. I’ve got a comfort zone in how I present myself to the world. I think we all do.

It can be conservative sheath dresses and french manicures or long black skirt and boots with a black cardigan. I tried the former and it felt like a costume, it felt uncomfortable and incorrect. I know lots of people that looks good on. It isn’t me and therefore it isn’t me.

I’ve always wanted long red curly hair. Like Bernadette Peters, Merida or a wild Irish lass loose on the moors. I’ve gotten close a few times. What I do have is wavy, dishwater blonde hair I torture into curls and dye once or twice a month with sunrise orange and paprika.

The color is still right. BUT..

a few months ago I passed a nearly monumental birthday. And suddenly on Friday, out with the wonderful folks I work with I realized…the curls aren’t it anymore.

I don’t look like that anymore. I’m changing how I present to the world. I’m not sure why but I am. This happens to everyone I’m guessing, but perhaps it isn’t a big deal to others or it is just a silly moment.

My appearance has long been my protection. You have to go through it to be my friend. It isn’t that I don’t like how I look–I love my tattoos and witchy clothes, my big warm cardigans and cat shirts. I love my red hair.  But I also know this protects me.  It says keep away unless you are kind, at least that is what I think it says. Kind and open minded. Non-judgmental and caring of people on the fringes and animals and willing to be good with difference.

But something is changing. The long curly red hair isn’t sitting comfortably on my head anymore.  It will be interesting to see what will.  And hey, nobody said I couldn’t get a really excellent wig for those nights I miss it.  I have plans to be a strangely cheerful old witch, but I will be comfortable as I get there.

It seems trivial perhaps, but to me, an interesting triviality.

I am NOT shaving my head again though.



  1. Dara

    Yes! I get this. I’m further along the age trajectory than you are and I still don’t know who I am supposed to present to the public. Losing a LOT of hair during the pandemic (stress? aging? illness? who knows?) was a thing. That loss has me re-evaluating long hair–something I’ve had for almost all my life–first braided in childhood, then long and loose for most of my 20s and 30s. I made a few hair detours, trying to appear outwardly like a non-CIS-het woman (by cutting my hair very short). The first was disastrous: a short perm made me look even more like a suburban housewife. The second–bleach/highlighted, then colored purple, was not as odious, but still not a fit. I’d hoped I would go silver in my 60s but so far, that’s not happened except at my temples (and some randomness elsewhere), and that’s left my previously medium brown hair looking more mousy. The solution? Purple around my face since the fall of 2017, nearly unwaveringly. I tried giving it up about a year ago, letting it completely wash out in the months before my birthday in 2023, but I missed it and my hair is more noticeably thin without it, I think. Once more, I’m on the verge of chopping it–mostly for the convenience of transitioning to some awesome wigs for special occasions. As it is, I only wear it pulled back (it’s too thin to wear down, even curled). Just haven’t quite done enough wig research to make the jump (it’s a fair amount of money, not to mention, there’s maintenance)!

    1. Jyllian M

      Ah, what a great story. I’ve heard often enough “it’s just hair” and yeah it is that but so much more. Why else do you shave your head or change your hair in times of great change. Why else does making that one thing different make so much difference? Also, the purple looks great on you.

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