Friday, October 17, 2008

Just a Few Thoughts on Hair

Three Women, Belle Johnson, 1900

The days of my thick luxurious hair are gone. Why don't we appreciate
our youthful physical beauty while we have it? I realize that not all big
or long hair, is good hair, but I just wish I had my old hair back. Mine
has thinned with age and thyroid problems. If you really want to feel
like your hair is puny, watch Disney's Pocahontas. Her magnificent,
blowing, swirling mane is all over the screen. Then go look in the
mirror at your little nothing head of hair. It's demoralizing.

Maybe I was born in the wrong time period, because I adore the
romantic Edwardian or Gibson Girl hairstyle, piled high with a flourish.
My daughter happens to have fabulous thick curly hair, which she
inherited from WT. She can just flip it up and pierce it with a stick and
it's to die for. I think this photo of her looks just like a Harrison Fisher
or Howard Chandler Christy illustration.

Here's a shot of Kate Beckinsale from Merchant Ivory's adaptation
of Henry James' The Golden Bowl. Now, I realize that she's most
likely wearing a wig, but the style is exactly right for the time period.
Did you know that women would actually wrap their hair around balls
of padding called "rats" for extra volume? Somehow I don't think that
would work for me. I would look like Prince Valiant with a pincushion.

It was fun to see Kirsten Dunst in all the marvelous wigs in Marie
Antoinette. I wonder if she suffered from a stiff neck or headaches
from all that weight on her head during filming? And do you
remember that funny old movie Fancy Pants with Bob Hope and
Lucille Ball? Bob plays the part of an actor pretending to be a valet
and actually embeds a birdcage in Lucy's hair!

Well, I will have to admit that my little bob style is easy to handle.
And no, I don't get headaches from too much hair. And since I can
blow dry it in just a few minutes, I have more time for serious things
like writing posts about random thoughts on hair.

Hair brings one's self-image into focus;
it is vanity's proving ground. Hair is terribly
personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices.

Shana Alexander


  1. Hi! I'm visiting for the first time, and I really enjoyed this post. I always wanted long, luxurious hair when I was young, but it just wasn't in my genes. So, I have a short little pixie-like haircut. I like to think of it as chic! :) I've tried it longer, but I always end up cutting it. As the quote says, "hair is terribly personal", and I just don't feel like myself unless it's short.

    I've enjoyed visiting, and will be back!

  2. Welcome and thanks for your comment! I had a pixie cut when I was a girl. I wanted long hair so badly, I used to tie a sock on the back of my head and pretend it was a ponytail!

  3. I'll stick with my easy-to-care-for, boy cut, thank you.

    Just one more thing I love that women's movement brought us!

  4. I had great hair too, before the TSH fluxuations, a too-early, health-imposed menopause, and two surgeries. My favorite hairstyle was my "Ringo" a la 1965. It wasn't long, but it was thick, straight and shiny. Once when I grew it out I had to cut it because it gave me headaches.

    What I really miss though, more than that hair, is my smooth, oval jawline.

  5. I remember the Ringo! Some of my friends had it. The thick bangs and those little sideburn whisps. You gotta love the sixties.

  6. And have you ever noticed that your hair can look it's very best when you are home alone scrubbing toilets? At least mine is that way. When I want it to look really great, it's limp or weird. tee-hee.

    And I agree with jawline is starting to sag....ugh...getting old is the pits!

  7. Oh, I know. My hair has a complete mind of its own and it never complies. I look like a goddess when I am home alone doing laundry. But a special occasion? Forget it.

  8. Did you see those pictures from the graduation recital? It had been raining all day and I looked like I was wearing a limp sponge.

  9. I had to laugh at Betsy's remark -I just passed a mirror and admired my hair - it looks wonderful here at home in the house at 11:30 pm having dusted and cleaned one of the bathrooms and thinking about going to bed. I had that Ringo style for a while too. Loved it!

  10. When I was young and my hair was good I thought it was bad because it wasn't board straight like the style of the day. Now that I am on the downside of middle aged my hair is bad because of thyroid and hormonal issues. So now that it is thin, it's gotten pretty straight....except for that mushroom that forms around the bottom when it rains. I just can't catch a break.

  11. I've always had long thick hair until recently, economic stress has thinned the masses. But to me as an artist and a free spirit, living alone, I am free to choose long, even as my Mother harps 'cut your hair, you'll look younger', well, that's not what it's all about for me. A hopeless romantic, I too love the look of the locks of yesteryear and it is easy just to put up a ponytail and as I grow older and more daring, maybe even know why...cause I can.

    I love the picture of Robin Brown (Magnolia Pearl)kissing her Grandmother on the cheek, next to the old womans that's a free spirit.

  12. I've just returned from the beach and was doing a little late night catching up on blogs and emails. You have made my long hair stand on end with the tales of your lady ghost! Jeepers, Willow...if I awoke to a rapidly whispering unintelligible old lady in my face, I'd have to be institutionalized!

    I'm off to bed now...with the light on maybe...

  13. Very beautiful post...
    The woman's hair are also "sweet" for a man...

    Smile : and Your hair Lady Willow...

  14. Don't you just looove Webradio's comments. There's nothing like a real Frenchman!
    Willow dearest, a quarter of a century of swallowing Digoxin has ravaged the mane I once could just sit upon. Luckily my meds were changed before I became an egg head. I hate hair in my face so for years past counting it's been up in a scrawny pony tail.
    I feel that if I'm good enough for God, and I have had no complaints to date, mankind can just make the best of me.
    PS Mother had plaits with an inch and a half diameter each at her ankles. Luckily she survived Typhois and Cholera in 1918, though not concurrently. She lost her parents to Cholera and her hair of course.

  15. I have very short pixie hair and enjoy it much. I loved having long hair as I could do lots with it but resented the problem that I HAD to do something with it and I don't like to fuss over my appearance much. Also, I dive and very long hair just wasn't convenient. Short is so much more practical...

  16. Sweet Repose: I just checked out your blog and you have hair to die for! I've always looked forward going gray. I have a lot of it, but I'm a natural redhead so it doesn't show much.

    Going back to read your blog now...

  17. When I was a teen I coveted my friend Jayne's hair as it was long, straight, black and parted in the middle - this was the 70s and of course that style was so "in." I, however, had thick, red, curly hair and parting it was an exercise in futility. No matter what I did to it, it always looked the same. I would even try to iron the curl out of it which would last about three minutes and then poof - back to the same look.

    Now I would have probably looked ridiculous with long, straight, black hair but that's hindsight talkin'!

    I've gradually grown to appreciate what I have, and having had several friends who have gone through chemotherapy and subsequently lost their locks, I try to love what's resting there now :) :)

  18. My long hair tells me when it's about to rain, makes a tent for my daughter to play under, and obscures my face when I want to be anonymous....

  19. The longest I wore my hair was up to my scapula. I did not have hair when I was born, so I am lucky I have short healthy hair. I worked with a nurse whose hair was as long as the women in the first photo. She braided it for work and then sometimes wrap the braid around her neck. I asked her one day: "Claire arent' you afraid a patient might strangle you with your own hair?" She replied, "Ces, only you would think that." After that I never saw her wrap her hair around her neck again ans she tied them into a bundle.

  20. Soo happy I found your blog...its lovely..I did enjoy and will come back:)

  21. Great hair post! I think that your bobbed hair is adorable to boot!

  22. Hi Willow

    I figure I'll let my, wavy-completely-out-of-control locks grow back when my little guy gets bigger. For now, I'll stick with my bob cut.

    And, how gorgeous is your daughters up-do?!

    Have a great weekend!

  23. Sweet Repose, I'll have to agree with Steph. I've seen your sidebar pic and your hair is glorious!!

  24. Willow, I’m so sorry to hear that you have thyroid problems, but your hair looks lovely in your photos – so shiny. I keep thinking I’m getting too old for long hair, especially since I passed 40, but it seems to suit me. Plus the ponytail default is great for bad hair days. I absolutely love your golden leaf photo in a post below. Don’t you adore this time of year?

  25. Hair!
    Ah, yes. I remember it well.
    My daughter has lots of it too. she thinks too much.......never.
    but I found your first photo spooky.
    I hate too much hair. I hate hair when it's not attached.
    A subject rife with symbolism and possibilities.

  26. well Willow, you've hit on a sore subject with me also - I to,have the thyroid issue and as you have seen, I've had to go the short, silver senior cut! - now it grows in thick hunks in just some places and drives my stylist crazy! alas!

  27. Oy...our hair!

    Maybe birdcages are the answer...

  28. I can't believe I typed "fluxuations" when I meant "fluctuations"... That's what I get for commenting while drinking wine... Sigh, so many of us with thyroid disease. I'm sorry you all have it too, but it's nice to know I'm not alone!

  29. Willow, I found my first grey hair in my dark thick hair when I was seventeen and it's been a color and chemical fiasco over all these years. I've been every color...not all planned as mistakes do happen! Right now, every four weeks, I color my roots with ash blond and it seems to create a variety of blond and white shades...I can do no more! Amazing my hair is still thick?!

  30. Some of us find that not only has our hairline receded but the full, fine luxuriance of youth has migrated onto our shoulders.

  31. Definitely agree with hair piled up, it's so romantic don't you think. Not that I'm romantic but I guess it brings out the femininity in me.

    I have puny hair but Amy has beautiful thick wavy hair. S'not fair!

    CJ xx

  32. a tangle, nyuk nyuk.

    Don't get me started on this topic, lol!

  33. I don't know why, willow, but whilst reading your post, this little tiny voice kept whispering in my left ear: 'Delilah, Delilah'.

    Back in college I had a friend who grew his hair really long and then cut it all off. When I asked him why he did that, he just replied: 'I love the process of growing my hair'. I thought that was clever.

    Greetings from London.

  34. this post had me humming the theme from the musical "hair". smile! i had long, long "hippie" hair during college and my early twenties. then i cut it short and have never looked back. i think your hair style is very chic!

  35. I loved this blog!!! Ha ha. So great. I'm growing mine long again, and I agree with you about fabulous up-do's.

  36. Its my major vanity ...

    She asks me why
    I'm just a hairy guy
    I'm hairy noon and night
    Hair that's a fright
    I'm hairy high and low
    Don't ask me why
    Don't know
    It's not for lack of break
    Like the Grateful Dead

    Gimme head with hair
    Long beautiful hair
    Shining, gleaming,
    Streaming, flaxen, waxen

    Give me down to there hair
    Shoulder length or longer
    Here baby, there mama
    Everywhere daddy daddy

    Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
    Flow it, show it
    Long as God can grow it
    My hair

    Let it fly in the breeze
    And get caught in the trees
    Give a home to the fleas in my hair
    A home for fleas
    A hive for bees
    A nest for birds
    There ain't no words
    For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
    Of my...

    Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
    Flow it, show it
    Long as God can grow it
    My hair

    I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
    Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
    Oily, greasy, fleecy
    Shining, gleaming, streaming
    Flaxen, waxen
    Knotted, polka-dotted
    Twisted, beaded, braided
    Powdered, flowered, and confettied
    Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

    Oh say can you see
    My eyes if you can
    Then my hair's too short

    Down to here
    Down to there
    Down to where
    It stops by itself

    They'll be ga ga at the go go
    When they see me in my toga
    My toga made of blond
    Biblical hair

    My hair like Jesus wore it
    Hallelujah I adore it
    Hallelujah Mary loved her son
    Why don't my mother love me?

    Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
    Flow it, show it
    Long as God can grow it
    My hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
    Flow it, show it
    Long as God can grow it
    My hair


  37. Great post. I love (and Have) Gibson, Fisher, and Christie prints.

    Well done piece. Thanks for the hard work in compiling and sharing this post.

    Well done.

    Come visit anytime,
    Troy and Martha

    PS: Alaska Sunday Hope, AK photos are up today.

  38. Ah, hair, my joy and my pain. So intimate. I like my short.

  39. Ha! I can relate. I've always been a bit vain about my thick hair, but now I hardly recognize what I see in the mirror as belonging to me. Your daughter's hair is gorgeous!

  40. Wow, it looks like you touched a nerve in many of us. Hair is indeed so personal. Your reference to Pocahontas made me think of our families trip to Disneyworld last December. We took my daughter to a princess lunch and she met Pocahontas. In absolute honesty, I tell you that this womans hair was her own and it was at least as lustrous, thick, and long as the movie versions hair. I could hardly keep my eyes off her. Sometimes life is just NOT FAIR!

    The truth is, I'd trade with Pocahontas in a minute. But, if I must have the hair of a mortal, I like mine just fine.

    ... Although... now that it is starting to grey the texture is changing. I keep thinking What?!?!?

  41. oh i hate that last quote! i have no mystery. i guess it is lack of tangles...
    i did a video blog though a few months back about pilling my hair on top of my head...i even do a demo. and my sister and i have another video on my blog where she plays a hairdresser and i play Kirsten Dunst. hair really is a BIG DEAL.
    somehow i had more hair even a few months ago. what is that about?!

  42. What an interesting post Willow...
    Those three women at the top are amazing!
    I naturally have fine straight hair, which is kind of flat, but these years of dreadlocks have made a great voluminous heavy matted mane, nothing has fallen down the plughole for 6 years!!! :)

  43. We used to call our daughter little Pocahontas as she had such lovely long dark hair. Referencing that is very sharp--the animation really does pick up on how lovely and freeing the swooshing of her hair was. My hair has just started to thin on the back--something I did not expect but there you have it. What a shocker. My mother has thyroid and hers is very very thin. Yes, enjoy whilst you have it.


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)