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Davis Journal

Life & Laughter - Letting My Hair Down

Feb 29, 2024 10:12AM ● By Peri Kinder
As I’ve gotten older (but never wiser), I expected the hot flashes, mood swings and irritability.
What I didn’t expect was that my age would turn my hair into a mortal enemy. Each morning, I
stare in the mirror and prepare for what feels like a battle to the death.

If the indignity of having my face turn a heat-blasting shade of scarlet at any given
moment wasn’t enough, I suddenly developed cowlicks along my hairline, giving my head the
appearance of constant swirling, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. My hair suddenly changed
directions and refused to be bullied into lying flat.

In fairness, my hair and I have been through some stuff. We endured the spongy, pink
curlers mom twisted onto my head every Saturday night. We survived my feathery Farrah
Fawcett era, the spiral perms, the lemon bleaching in the summer, the sky-high bangs of the ‘80s
and a decade of nothing but ponytails when my daughters were little.

Maybe my hair never forgave me because now there is no amount of styling products or
heated irons that make my hair manageable. It usually looks like newlywed hawks nested on my
head to raise their young.

After another morning struggling to arrange my hair in some semblance of control, I
threw my hair straightener down the hall and burst into tears. My husband walked out of his
office and asked what was wrong. I pointed at my head and kept bawling.
“I don’t care if your hair looks like a tornado emoji,” he said. “You’re always beautiful to

“I don’t want to be beautiful to you,” I sobbed. “I want to be beautiful to complete

He doesn’t get it. Men can be bald or gray or have a comb-over or just a Van Dyke beard
and they’ll still be considered handsome, even distinguished. But if a woman can’t style her hair
using a tube sock, a bottle of mousse and a barrette, the TikTok police jump out of nowhere and
create harsh videos for public shaming.

But it’s not just the random cowlicks that give my scalp the appearance of a tropical
storm weather map, it’s the breakage and the sensitive scalp and the way my hair just refuses to
comply. My hair breaks so often, it looks like my stylist started to give me a bowl cut and then
got bored after trimming the first layer.

I’ve invested in expensive shampoos and luxury leave-in conditioners with no effect. My
hair just twirls insolently from my head. I purchased soft brushes and vitamin supplements and I
paid someone good money to rub my scalp for 45 minutes. The pampering hasn’t paid off.

There’s no such thing as “styling” my hair. I have to distract it, wrestle it into place,
staple it down and spray it with a light coat of cement. It doesn’t matter. Within minutes it’s
spinning around my face like it drank too many mimosas for breakfast.

Maybe the lack of compliance is the reason many older women end up cutting their hair
into cute pixie styles, easy crops or elegant bobs. But my face is too round for a short haircut. I
end up looking like a basketball wearing a toupee.

I hope at some point my hair and I can become friends again. Between my mood swings
and hot flashes, I don’t have the patience to be irritated at one more thing.