Turning 40: a short argument for long hair

Last updated 05:00 27/09/2013
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I turned 40 this week. Oh, thank you, yes, I had a great birthday dinner with my family.

I've never been worried about turning 40. In fact I'm relishing it. Happiest I've ever been in my life.

But in a complete coincidence, turning 40 coincided with me chopping about 20 centimetres off my hair. It's now a dark red lob (long-bob). It used to touch my bra strap at the back.

I'd been bleaching it for years and I just felt like a change. I'd also had a few wines at lunch before my hair appointment and my hairdresser jumped at the chance when I said, "Just cut off the unhealthy bits."

After the initial shock, I love my new do. It's easier to manage myself and it feels like a true style.

What I wasn't prepared for was one acquaintance saying to me, "Oh, you cut your hair? I guess you didn't want to look like 'mutton dressed as lamb' now you're over 40."

I wanted to punch him in the throat, or at least give him a tongue lashing with a number of cutting comebacks that came to me instantly. Of course none did, so instead I shrugged my shoulders, bit my lip and walked away.

But I felt furious. That never even entered my mind. Surely now 50 is the new 40, so those old rules don't apply.

And more importantly, screw the rules, women can wear their hair as they damn well please.

Clive Allwright, co-owner of Our Place Salon in Potts Point, Sydney, agrees: "I think it's criminal for women to cut their hair off to fit to some social norm.

"I think so many women now look after their hair so much more than they used to and their hair still looks great. And looking after your hair and skin is so much easier. When your parents turned 40 they looked 40. Now 60 is the new 40," he says.

Freelance hair and makeup artist Jacqueline Hutton says cutting your hair short after 40 used to be what everyone did.

"I think it was automatic, so people did it without really thinking about it. It was almost a ritual: you chopped your hair off, you went to the salon once a week and had it set, and that's what everyone did. It's very different now," she says.

"It's personal taste these days rather than what's expected. Saying 'mutton dressed as lamb' is just plain rude. My advice is don't follow trends or rules, get a hairstyle that suits you. Long hair can be ageing if it's unkempt and daggy. If you want long hair you have to look after it. And if it's going to be in a ponytail every day don't bother keeping it long, just cut it off."

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Allwright agrees about the grooming.

"Long hair after 40 doesn't automatically make you look older, but since hair thins as you age, pump up the volume with layers and movement around the face. Choose a hairstyle that suits you not your age. Recently I saw an awesome afro on Lillie McLoud a 54-year-old woman on UK XFactor. She rocked it."

I don't think I could pull off an afro so I'm happy with my hair this length for now.

But if I want to grow it long again I will.

Pity the fool who calls me 'mutton dressed as lamb' - I won't have a "baa" of it.

- FFX Aus


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