Most American women have long hair and keep it long their entire lives. I've met women in their 40s and 50s who tell me their hair is the same as it was in high school. This is incredible to me for two reasons. a) I admire their ability to love something for that long, and b) don't they ever get bored?
I chopped all my hair off short when I was 18, and it remained short and various hues of blonde for the next 25 years, when I suddenly decided to grow it and go brunette. Four years later, I've been changing my mind constantly, and a delve through photos on my computer and Facebook proves that I'm definitely schizophrenic when it comes to deciding what to do with my hair. The photo above is kind of where I am right now, except a maybe a little longer and a little blonder.
Having lived through many hair iterations, here are 10 things to know about long hair - good and bad.
1. It falls out - all the time, everywhere. I can be sitting at my computer, and a hair will float out onto the floor. I can be sitting at a cafe, and a random hair will appear on the table. I can put my glasses on or take them off, and a few hairs will fall out. I think this happens with short hair too, but you don't notice it as much, and I'm constantly picking up my hair and Fiona's hair as well as dog hair. Sounds gross, but it's true.
3. It gets stuck in glasses and sunglasses. Maybe this is just me, but whenever I take glasses off, (which for me is often, because I wear them for reading and working on the computer), there's a jolt of pain as a hair that managed to wedge itself in the hinges of the glasses gets pulled out. This doesn't happen with short hair. There's nothting there to get stuck.
5. It clogs the drains. This one's a biggie. You absolutely must use a hair catcher in the shower, otherwise your plumbing bills will be high.
6. It takes forever to dry. I guess I'm lucky in one way. I have a lot of thick hair, but boy, does that mean a long time with the hairdryer. You have to plan this into your morning routine.
7. On a hot day, it's really hot to have a curtain of hair around you. Again, I'd never considered this. When hair is short, the breeze caresses your neck and keeps you cooler in hot weather. With long, dark hair, you really get hot around the collar (literally.)
8. No matter what your hairdresser says, it's impossible not to wash your hair every day if you exercise. With short hair, the hairdresser never tells you to leave it for a day or two before washing. When your hair is long, you do get nagged to let it be, and just put it in a ponytail or something. While this is laudable for the health of longer hair, if you exercise outdoors in the mornings as I do, and especially when the weather is hot, you sweat. And you sweat around your hairline too. I feel gross if I don't wash my hair, so I do - daily. It just makes me feel better.
9. It's much lower maintenance in the morning. This one surprised me and is the flipside to the point above. With shorter hair, when you wake up in the morning, there's more of a tendency for your hair to be sticking up in lots of different directions and to have a lovely bald patch on one side where you've slept for a while. With long hair that tends not to happen, and it's possible to wake up in the morning, looking almost like you did when you went to bed the night before. Give it a brush, put it in a ponytail and voila, you're done.
10. You go to the hairdresser less often. This one also surprised me. When I had short hair, I frequented the salon much more, to get trims, to keep the shape, to touch up the color. When hair is long, you can go months without setting foot in the salon, and I do. I'm also not as concerned about the smattering of grey hairs that are now visible. Right now my hair resembles a geological dig, with the newer "real" hair color showing at the roots, followed by more of a darker brown, that fades to lighter brown as it goes down, as the blonde from previous colorings shows through. I actually don't mind that, but it's less money for the hairdresser.
So there you have it. One person's unscientific look at the comparison between long and short hair. I'm going to keep it longer for now, but who knows. One day I may wake up and decide just to chop it all off and go blonde. It's happened before, and it will happen again.