Wednesday, April 6, 2011

H is for...

H is

The human being's crowning glory.

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair, shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there, momma, everywhere, daddy, daddy

When I was a little girl, I would have long hair until my mother got tired of having to comb it and then she would take me down to have it cut.

It stayed mostly short until I was 14. That's when I decided I wanted to let it grow long. My parents humored me through 9th grade but insisted I get a haircut the following summer. Against my wishes, my mother dragged me down to the salon and when the stylist was done, I looked into the mirror and burst into tears. My mother couldn't understand why I was so upset.

'It was only two inches', she exclaimed.

It was more than that to me.

The following school year I was given an ultimatum. Cut it or wear it up. So I would go to school with my hair in a french twist or a sort of top side bun and when I got to school, I would let it down. Of course, I had to put it back up before my mother arrived to pick me up from school and one day I forgot.

I got lectured all the way home. And then lectured again when my father got home. my parents were very image conscious and long undone hair was not part of that image He threatened to come in my room at night and cut it while I was asleep.

For the next year, at least, I fell asleep holding my hair in my fist.

Eventually they gave in or gave up and it was probably 10 years before I got another hair cut.

I rolled it for the long sweeping flip.

I started parting it in the middle and ironed it to get rid of the natural curl. I braided it, held it in a clip to get it out of my face and off my neck in the summer.

Eventually, in my mid-20s I did get it cut. I kept it shoulder length and shorter around my face for many years after that but it was always in a state of growth because I only got one or two haircuts a year.

And then in my mid 40s I let it start growing long again in some sort of mis-placed nod to femininity.

There's not a whole lot about me that's feminine. I don't wear make up, I don't shave, I don't color or otherwise mess with my hair, I don't do my nails, I don't obsess about clothes or shoes, I don't carry a purse. And I look silly in ruffles.

It was probably another 8 or 10 years before I cut it again and it had grown well past my waist. Once again it was either bunned up or braided and one day someone told me I looked like Georgia O'Keefe, which I thought at the time was a great compliment. But oh, wait. She was an old lady wasn't she? I got it cut not too long after that.

Now I try to keep my hair between my shoulders and the nape of my neck.

Last year I got the shortest haircut of my life. Nice experiment but I don't think I'll repeat it. It's been growing out ever since.

Who knows, maybe I'll let it get long again.

When I started writing this, I didn't intend for it to be all about the various lengths of my hair. I actually thought I would write about hair in general. Maybe the different cultures around hair...the soldier buzz cut of the 50s, the long hippie hair of the 60s, the big hair of the disco era, the no hair of the gym, the hair of the menopause. Wait, what?

I have almost no hair in my armpits now. It's all migrated to my chin.

ages in the pictures in order: 7, 10, 15, 17, 20, 25, 40, 49, 50, 60 and 3 weeks shy of 61.


  1. Ah yes, the migrating hair....too bad huh? me too but then oh well. The Olde Bagg

  2. Ellen, You look "Maavelous!" I enjoyed your Hair saga. I have had similar paths of short-short, afro, long-in-front-short-in-back etc. . Now it is long where it has been for many, many years (although i just cut 8 inches and no one even noticed)! I find that it is cooler in the summer when I can wear it up and safer in the studio (when I remember to put it up)! Don't get me started on the wet belt sander saga! Always enjoy your blog. Best regards Terrie

  3. LOL - another thing to look forward to! I already pluck the mole on my upper lip so I'm already a pro...

    I never had really long hair - mom didn't know how to do hair so I wore it fairly short. These days I do the twice a year cut, some shorter than others. It works for me.

    But I do color my hair. I get bored with it otherwise :)

  4. Oh Ellen how I empathise with you on this one!

    But I have to admit now I am a city slicker again I wear it shorter than I have ever done before - going to the hairdresser every other month - but I keep the grey highlights!

  5. This could be my story! Except I kept my hair short when I was little because my mother used to grab me by it and pull me toward her for the sake of punishing me.

    I, too, no longer have armpit hair, and the hair on my legs is getting sparse. Plucking my chin is a weekly ritual, and there are more hairs to pluck all the time.

    Now the head on my hair is so sparse I'm tempted to shave it all off......

  6. I wear my hair in a very, very short pixie (of sorts), and pretty much always have. Once, when I was about 24, a man asked me how my husband felt about my short hair. What an odd question. What is it about having long hair that could possibly be about my femininity or sexuality?...and who gives a shit about what my husband thinks? He's not the one wearing it. :o)

    I do, however find the hair that is becoming sparse in some regions, and growing miraculously bristly in others, rather disconcerting. So perhaps hair is a sex trait thingy after all. Sigh.

  7. love it! i have some hair stories of my own - brings back (not so fond) memories. lol! maybe i'll dig out some pictures to go along with my hair saga.

    i suffer from migrating hair, too.

  8. The pictures are fabulous! I wish I could rock a short hairstyle like you [and our pal Rudee] Gorgeous.

    I keep mine shoulder length just because I find ponytails to be the easiest thing to do in the morning. Who cares that I am 44. hee

    This is a great post - thanks.

  9. Ellen, you've so got a hair memoir in you. Because I just know that there is a great personal behind each of those hair pictures. Would you ever pen a memoir?

  10. * a great personal story, I meant to say ...

  11. Ellen~
    This is awesome! I have been toying with writing the same! I was grabbing up photos yesterday while going through the box of 60's photos.
    Hair is so important to most women. I have hidden behind mine most my life. I am still gonna do my post, but wait now since you just did one similar :)

  12. This is a FANTASTIC post. I love it - all the pictures and I especially love your relationship with your hair.

    What was up with your parents? Why did they think long hair was bad? That is so bizarre.

    I believe my hair is a being with a rather separate agenda from that of my ego. Currently my hair is so happy not to be laboring under layers of chemical coloring and also because it is the longest it has ever been.

    I LOVE my hair.

  13. This was such a fun post. I've had long hair pretty much all of my life.. from my teens onward. I kept saying when I hit 21, 30, 40, 50.. I'll cut it. I've given up on that now. I like it long and long it shall stay.

    I love the various photos of you through the years. You haven't changed a bit.. except for the hair. ;)

  14. Interesting post. What a cute little girl you were. I enjoyed your personal story more than a general discussion about hair. I have found a good haircut for me which I maintain myself most of the time with a trim now and then. It is blunt cut between my chin and my shoulders. The bangs are long but shorter than the rest. I have been thinking about a layered shorter cut but the maintenance worries me.

  15. hair is so like a flag on the battlements - a poem written in the front page of a year book - it tells so very much about the outside of you and then it also tells so very much about the inside. then it tells about everything else. this post is such an insight for me - a boy all my life - now watching my hair quietly fade away. steven

  16. Hey Ellen, this is a great idea for a post. I had short when I was growing up, but after I got out of the Army in 1973, I let my hair grow. My dad took issue with my decision and didn't speak to me for years.
    I had long hair and a beard for most of my adult life. Then in my 40's my hair began to migrate....I still haven't figured out were.
    Maybe I'll do a similar post on my blog. Of course I'll say I got the idea from you.

  17. I loved your hair diaries! Isn't hair so intensely psychological? I can certainly relate to the migrating hair. heehee

  18. To me hair is a distant memory! In general on a woman I prefer to see longer hair rather than short. On men I think it should be compulsory for them to have shaved heads on the grounds of equality LOL!

  19. I remember my mother used to drag me to the salon and get it whacked off regularly!
    I cried too...everytime. Did she way!!
    I think she was jealous of my long thick hair. She wore her's short and coiffed.
    Not I wear my hair really short and I have colored my hair since I was 14! What grey??
    Not me!! Ha!!
    And I get manicures and pedicures on a reg. basis too!
    I am such a girl!!

  20. It is very interesting to read about your hair odyssey. I like to read about the relationship others have with their hair because it is such a major part of our persona. My struggles with my very challenging hair make me conclude that in my next life I want perfect hair.

    I am thrilled that my five-year-old granddaughter has thick,wavy hair. She let it grow for five years and it was gorgeous. She decided she wanted to have it cut and her parents honored her desire to control decisions about her hair, which pleased me greatly.

  21. I laugh when Im need a cut, my dog is $28 and mine is 10. I keep mine fairly short in hot and let it out in the cold.

  22. Ok. . . maybe I'll rethink the Halle Berry cut idea.

  23. I LOVE your dimple! I know, this is about hair, but I just love that cute dimple. You have such a great smile. And I wish some of my body hair migrates into neverland or something; this shaving every other day is not cool at all.

    I might have to do my "Hair" post one of these days. I need to get a pic of my shaved head Marine Days. Yeah, I know...

  24. Your hair story mirrors my hair story lmao Short long short long etc. I'm 50 now and its half way down my waist and of course i pony it or wear it up most of the time. lol Wonder how long i will stand it before i cut it again. Cute story, thanks for the share. I'm following you now also. :p

  25. hello there, Ellen, nice to meet you.
    You look like you are a lovely lady and I am glad to have an image to add to the image of you in my head.

    I am finally starting to let my hair grow out to its natural colour; I don't wear make-up but I have had my hair tinted for ever. Now I can't be bothered anymore, besides the tint now hurts my scalp. It's quite a revelation to meet the real me finally. From black hair to dirty grey-smudgy black. Help, I'm old.

  26. I have to admit I'm a bit jealous. My hair starts to putz out just past my shoulders. I never could get it to grow long and look good.

    I don't understand why some parents freak out over hair. I know a lady at my school who thinks girls should have long hair and boys short.

    I did take my kid to the salon a couple of weeks ago. We asked to have it trimmed so his hair didn't look so shaggy. They took 2 inches off. Gave him a Justin Beiber. Looked awful. I don't think he believes me when I say I really didn't want that to happen.

    He's cut off a few locks to feather it. He did a better job. Maybe I will let him cut his own hair.

    Sorry for the long post. I figure the length of a kid's hair is the least of your parental worries.

  27. Oh how I love looking a photos of people I know as time passes. It always amazes me how these photos of ourselves tell a story all on their own. I wish we lived closer, Ellen, and I wish I had more time to enjoy all of your stories of joy, lament, sadness, triumphs, peace.....shall I go on. Thanks for all you do. Oh yes...and if I by chance miss wishing you a VERY...VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY on your great day....HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


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