Snip! Snip!

"Snip! Snip!" is what my mom always says under her breath when she sees an older woman with long hair. She is of the opinion that women of a certain age shouldn't have long hair. Period.

I used to think it was a funny tic of hers. I found it surprisingly close-minded, given my mother's usually open-minded take on things. Who's to say what length your hair should be? Is this the army? If it looks good on you, if you like it, who cares?

Lately, I've been growing my hair long. Mostly, I've been too greedy with my precious 'away' time to spend it at a hair salon (gym, here I come!) but, to be honest, there is something else at work besides neglect: I harbor fantasies of long, youthful, Pantene-commercial-worthy locks. Like many women, I go through phases with my hair. And apparently my current hair phase is "wishing I was 10 years younger with a different life".

I am married. I live in a small town. I have two kids and dog and a mortgage and house with a white fence out back. I am 37. I don't like to use the hair dryer or the flat iron and when my hair grows past my shoulders, I pretty much put my hair in a perma-ponytai 24/7. These all add up to a typical, sensible, bobbed haircut, no?

Mom, am I old enough to merit your "Snip! Snip!"?

When I pick up People magazine on my bedside table at the gym, I am stunned by the photos of famous women in their late thirties. Through plastic surgery or hair extensions or damn good genes or all of the above, they often look amazing, glamorous and youthful. Many of them, most of them, have thick, LONG, gorgeous hair. But some of them look rather sad, like they want the world to think they are still 18. Like they're clinging to something that is fading away.

Then, when I pick up Good Housekeeping or Redbook and read the personal articles written by mere-mortal women my age with their almost-always-bobbed haircuts, I am often struck by how they look rather old, like Capital M MOMS.

These are my options, it seems. I can either grasp and clutch at my fading youth with Botox and hair-extensions or I can succumb to gravity in elastic-waisted, newscaster-bobbed oblivion. There's got to be some middle ground here somewhere.

Speaking of elastic-waisted, I'm officially out of my maternity and first-and-fourth trimester jeans. (Yay!) E is 9 months old and I'm getting back into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. But one old, favorite pair of jeans in particular just won't cut it anymore.

I bought these AG jeans a couple of years before I got pregnant with Z. They were an expensive splurge and I wore them ALL. THE. TIME. They fit me well and I felt comfortable in them.

About a year after I had Z, I was able to squeeze back into them, as long as I had a long, blouse-y shirt to cover the Top O' the Muffin. They weren't quite as effortless to wear as they had been but they were okay, passable, You look good FOR A MOM.

Now I can once again squeeze myself back into them. But on closer inspection you can see that the proportions are wrong and the rise is just too darn low for me now. Sure the top button closes but it makes my belly looks like a boneless Sharpei that's been stuffed into a tube sock. It's not pretty. (And it makes me understand why women get tummy tucks. I could just "Snip! Snip!" it right off.)

Then, those jeans looked, and felt, great. Now, I think I need to let them go. I can let this go.

So earlier this week, I went to our local outlet mall and bought myself a pair of decent, higher cut jeans. I'm not going to win any pageants in them but they actually fit and I don't have to constantly check that the Sharpei is covered.

I also got my hair cut. I've accepted that without hair extensions and serious time devoted to boring things like hair drying and straightening, my hair isn't ever going to look like a Pantene commercial. That I am more than my hair and my bought-in-my-twenties jeans. That youth is fleeting but youthfulness is a feeling with no expiration date.

I can let this go, without "letting myself go".

Long hair and old, too-tight jeans. More youthful or more lazy/desperate?

More sensible bob, more sensible jeans, more acceptance.
(Plus, let's be honest, the darker wash is just more flattering and less... 1999.)


Whimsy said...

Thoughtful and spot on, as always.

And damn, girl, you look GOOD.

Kathi McCracken Dente said...

You look great!

Hillary said...

I'm having a moment with my hair, too. I love it short, but felt like I was in a rut and veering into MOM territory. So I'm growing it out -- only now I wonder if I just look sloppy. Sigh.

Michelle said...

The permanent ponytail. I'm about half an inch from entering that phase.
You post is so thoughtful.

Jane said...

I was just speaking with a friend about the permanent ponytail. She wondered why I even *have* long hair, since 99% of the time I don't blow it dry and just throw it up into a ponytail. I like my hair shorter, even SHORT, but there is something about clinging to youth. Ah, youth.

Great post, great new look for you.

KG said...

Amazing post, Jen. Love the jeans and the hair.

And BTW, you DOOOOO have Pantene hair!!!! So dark and shiny with just the right amount of wave! (I totally get where this post is coming from, but just have to point out the fabulousness of your hair, from the perspective of a 36 year old with CURLY hair (i.e., NOT pantene!) who started to go gray at 23 (yes, 23@##!#, thanks, dad). Kids routinely tell me - "You have white hair!" or ask "What color did your hair USED to be?" I try not to grimace when I respond. It used to be lovely brown.

I am unwilling to color my hair, and blow dry it only in the winter so it does not freeze/cause pneumonia in New England winters. Not a mom (yet) but still feeling you on this post. Wanting more .... edge. I'm thinking maybe dark nail polish before my trip to Austin next week? Which will last all of 2 days, I am sure....

Marianne said...

I have been sporting the bob since high school. Every time I try to grow my hair longer it gets frayed and tangles. I think it was just not meant to be.

Katie said...

Wow, the After shot is hot. I'm 27-about-to-be-28 and I look like MUCH more a Capital M MOM than you do.

Eleanor Q. said...

I like the new jeans! I too recently cut my hair and though I was going for more of a youthful bounce, the 'do feels very Mom now.

Erica said...

You look fab! The new jeans are definitely flattering on you. I can't see enough of your hair with that big old camera in the way, but I bet it's smashing, too!

parkingathome said...

Wow, you look amazing in BOTH pictures. WOW, that tummy is out of this world flat.

As for hair, I've thought about cutting it waaay short, like with trimmers. I spent most of my teenage and early 20s hair with short,short dykey hair and sometimes it's MORE work than long. Because you CAN put your hair in a ponytail when it's long, and you can run your fingers through it and the bed head is hidden, but with short hair there must be product and there must be styling and there is no hiding the nap you tried to have. Plus I've grown my hair out long twice and it is so excruciating to get it past the years-long ugly stage, it's not worth it to cut it short again. Now I understand why whenever my mom would take me to get a haircut when I was a kid she would always say, "Not shorter than ponytail length."

Also, I hope to be one of those old ladies with salt and pepper loooong hair. I think that look is so gorgeous.

Amy said...

Smokin' hot! :)

Mrs. Chicken said...

You are beautiful, no matter how you cut it.

KG said...

STYLE is ageless! Found this link in Sunday NYTimes Style section. Loving it!


Good Enough Mom said...

I want to know your workout routine! :)

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