The Tyranny of Sexy
I’ve had sexy on the brain today.
You see, Peter Lappin posted on his blog about the sad demise of ladies’ hats (go read him at http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/ — even if you don’t sew, the discussions on fashion history are always great fun). I wrote a response wherein I suggested that hats went out of style when it became desirable for women to look sexy rather than sophisticated — likely in the youthquake of the late 60s. The thought has stuck with me, not because I wish to wear hats — my tendency to fling myself about makes over-accessorizing a safety risk — but because I suddenly want long hair.
Something like this, only a bit shorter at the ends. I want it to sway in the breeze. I want to forego blow-drying. I want to put it up in a swingy ponytail. Never mind that I have the hair styling ability of a Lego minifig. Never mind that hair past my shoulders gets lank and stringy and tangles quickly. Never mind that I have enough cowlicks to pasture an entire herd.
I want long hair, and I’m not entirely sure why.
I belong to a gym in which I’m often the youngest or second-youngest person in the room (I live in an area with a lot of retirees). I’m the only woman under 65 with hair above her shoulders. Everyone else has long locks, dyed to cover gray. Dry, frizzy, unhealthy hair sometimes — but long and a socially appropriate color, often blond.
At the moment, I have a longish bob which screams “Mom hair!” at me every time I look in the mirror. It’s not that I wish to avoid looking like a Mom — I’d have to stop hanging around with the three people who address me that way, for one thing. Nor do I wish to be desirable to random passing guys — I have trouble fending them off even with Mom hair. It’s more that I don’t look the way I feel in my head. I dyed my hair dark so often that I let my hairdresser put in highlights because my color was starting to look decidedly weird. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on my hair color, which is a very appropriate caramel brown with blonde highlights. It’s flattering to my skin tone.
I hate it.
My favorite hair was a purple bob I had a couple of years ago (think Hit Girl from Kick-Ass).
The trouble with this look is, purple dye is VERY high maintenance. It tends to dye everything around you. Forget about wearing a white t-shirt. Expect to wake up with a purple pillow. Understand that you’ll have purple on your skin for a few days after a dye session. Your shower will look like you murdered the California Raisins in it. I know I want to go back to purple, yet every time I think about it, I hesitate.
Because there’s a part of me that likes to blend in, sometimes. You can’t blend in with purple hair. Senior citizens and small children will ask questions (usually because they like it, but still). People will give you startled looks. Other responsible adults may be horrified. So, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to keep my current boring color and grow my hair long. To be “sexy” and conventional, even though I know it doesn’t suit me. And even more troubling, I don’t know if this is because there’s a certain way society tells us we should look in order to be attractive as a woman over 30. How do I separate being someone whose preferences change and grow from being someone who buys into social conditioning?
What do you think? Do you ever feel burdened by the obligation to look the way people expect? To be sexy, or to fit in in some other way?