Hair Confession #9: The Age-Inappropriate Ponytail

One writer's true tale of woe and liberation.

by Susan Coll
gray hair ponytail image

My hair is all wrong for a woman my age. It hangs midway down my back, scrunched haphazardly into what is apparently known as a half-up,half-down ponytail. Google this hairstyle and you’ll find an instructional video featuring a model who looks about eight years old.

I’ve never been very rational in what I would call, with irony, my beauty regimen. I love to buy makeup but rarely wear it, and I seem to have, at any given time, a dozen lipsticks that are pretty much exactly the same, albeit with a variety of poetic names. But you can’t leave your hair at home in a drawer; you have to choose how to present yourself. I chose to hide behind an uninspired wall of hair.

For years I considered alternatives, ripping out magazine pictures of models with sleek, blunt styles and scheduling a haircut. Invariably, though, I’d panic in the salon parking lot and call in sick. On the one occasion that I followed through, I was evidently operating under the influence of an extreme hormonal surge: Later that day I found out I was pregnant and for the next nine months felt not just chunky and bloated but also horribly shorn. Nowadays, when I get even a trim, something of myself feels lost.

With my fiftieth birthday looming in two years, I’m no longer skimming magazines in search of perfect cuts; instead, I’m on the lookout for those elusive women aging gracefully with long hair. I’ve yet to find one sporting a graying half-up, half-down ponytail, but maybe this is where I’ll finally become a style maverick, a little late in life.

Photo courtesy of jivan child/

Want MORE? Read Hair Confession #1: Dire Straightening

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First Published December 22, 2011

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