I find myself at a pretty interesting juncture in my life. I left my full time job early this year because the conditions were getting well on top of me, and I’ve been temping for a lovely little company ever since. The work is dull, but the people are nice and the pay is good. In a couple of weeks, however, my contract will end, and I’ll be out in the big wide world again.
A beautiful quilt with a theme of “escape” from the talented quilters over at Textile Abstractions
Because I’ve had a couple of months to think it over, I’ve come up with SO MANY PLANS. I’m going to catch up on a bunch of medical appointments I should have gotten to ages ago; I’m going to rearrange my house; I’m going to start properly pitching my writing to as many outlets as possible; I’m going to start trying to make my Etsy store into a viable part time enterprise – but the thing I’m most keen to jump on the second this contract is over is my plan to shave my head. I’m gonna shave off the sides, then bleach it, then dye it ALL THE COLOURS. No matter what else I manage to get to during this little break, this plan is one I absolutely MUST get to.
You might wonder why my hair is the most important thing to me on that list. It seems like a relatively minor thing – and in the grand scheme of life, it absolutely is. But the thing is, I’ve never shaved off any of my hair, let alone two whole chunks of it. I’ve always WANTED to do it, but I always found an excuse not to. My boss will freak out, I don’t have the courage right now, blah blah etc etc. But now I’m 33, I feel like I need to do it RIGHT NOW because otherwise I’ll run out of time to do it. The other things on my list of plans don’t have a time limit as such – I feel like I can always come back to them if I need to. But when it comes to crazy hair, I’m scared if I continue to put it off and put it off, eventually I’ll have missed my chance to do it at all. I feel like the stars have aligned to allow me one last opportunity without an employer to worry about, before I get “too old” and someone steps in to confiscate my bleach and clippers.
When does unusual hair become an awkward attempt to be “hip” and “down with the kids” instead of a fun experiment in style, exactly? Maybe there isn’t really such a thing as “too old.” If there is such a thing as “too old,” when is it? How much time do I have? No-one I’ve spoken to seems to be able to pinpoint a definite age, unfortunately. Everyone can point in the vague direction of, “You know, too old,” but that’s no help. “Old” is such a ridiculously nebulous word – when I was 21 being 33 seemed appallingly old. I expected to have a house and a sensible career and a professional wardrobe by now. Instead here I am, still shuffling around the house in my dressing gown with monkeys on it talking to my cat. Can I still be “too old,” even if I’m wildly immature? Does my immaturity raise or lower the age at which shaving my head and dying it pink gets weird? Whatever the specific age where “old enough” becomes “too old,” I fear this nebulous point might be closing in rapidly.
In terms of style experimentation, I largely wasted my 20’s. I know that’s when you’re supposed to do all this stuff, but I was always far too timid to do something as attention-getting as shaving off my hair. I dyed it black for a long time, and cut it quite short a couple of times, but that was as “wild” as I got. I expanded my wardrobe to include skirts that weren’t floor length at around 21, but only because my boss at the time kind of bullied me into it. I’ve been trying to go a whole week without wearing an all-black outfit to work for about six months now, and I still haven’t managed it. Hell, I’ve only just started figuring out how to do makeup beyond “lots of eyeliner” in the last year or so! Do I have to give up my glitter eyeshadow and bright purple dresses as well? Do I have to start dressing “like a grownup” already? I feel like I just got the hang of having fun with this whole style thing!
I know some of you are going to advise that I ignore other people’s opinions of what is and isn’t appropriate for someone of my age – and it’s not terrible advice. But even if I don’t end up going back to office work, I’ll still need to be taken seriously in order to create an income for myself. As much as I love it, peacock blue hair doesn’t exactly scream “serious business lady” or “give me a massive loan,” you know? I wonder if it really has to be a deal-breaker, though, in this modern day and age. There are certainly people around far older than me with incredible colours in their hair who are also taken seriously. Take Tish and Snooky, the ladies who founded the Manic Panic brand. They’ve been wearing and creating a veritable rainbow of hair colours since the 70’s, and show no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Sisters Tish and Snooky at the premiere of a movie celebrating legendary punk venue CBGB’s
I’m not sure I’ll ever have the je ne sais quoi to pull off pastel purple ringlets when I’m their age, but they certainly encourage me to get my kicks while I can. What do you think? Is there an age when it’s time to put away the glitter and the purple hair dye, to grow your mohawk back in and get a “sensible” haircut? Do you judge people past a certain age who still like to sport a thick streak of bright purple, or do you think everyone should be able to wear what they want for as long as they want?
Quilt image from Textile Abstractions
Red haired model image from Easy Hair Models
Elderly lady and child with mohawk image from Locker Gnome
Image of Tish and Snooky Bellomo, from Zimbio
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The author of Reluctant Femme, Cassie is a queer thirty-something Australian who thinks too much, reads too much, and has way too many pretty things. Her writing revolves around exploring concepts of femme and femininity, feminism, and just how much glitter you really can fit into a polish before it’s unusable. You can catch up with her in shorter bursts on Twitter , look at pictures of her favourite pretty things on her Tumblr, and browse her shiny accessory creations at her Etsy store