Methuselah’s Hair

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.

run awayA 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.

46124d39499186502e2b7c5b98917f17I’m gonna shave it like this, and then make it red, then
make it blue, then make it purple, then…

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

_ _ _ _ _

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

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8 Responses to “Methuselah’s Hair”

  1. Natalie

    Last year I decided to stop dyeing my hair. I had been dyeing it black for a while, but before that (when I had a boss that didn’t mind), my hair was pink, purple, red, white…
    So I cut most of my hair off to get rid of the dye. I’ve kept it short ever since, while growing out the remnants of the dye. About 3 months ago I decided to go for a full on undercut, and just did it one day in my bathroom. I’ve always fancied one, but for years the pressure of hairdressers, parents, jobs etc kept me from it. Then I just thought sod it, it’ll make my life easier. Working for an organisation in a country where they don’t have as much of an opinion on your appearance as in others, it wasn’t something I thought twice about. It was incredibly liberating, even more so because I now have so much less hair to care for! I have so much hair that most people don’t really realise I have a full undercut as there is still so much left on the top of my head it pretty much covers the shaved bits.

    • Cassandra Goodwin

      I am SO looking forward to fuzzy shaved parts of my head. I’m going to pat myself like a teddy bear.
      But seriously, how crazy is the pressure to keep your hair long? It’s pretty insane when you think about it.

  2. mendotawaves

    I am a fairly “quiet” wearer of style myself but have always been delighted by those bold people who make a strong statement whether in dressing up, dressing differently, or dressing down. In business we are interacting with others some of whom have the power to make things better or worse for us so sometimes we need to conform to their ideas if we want certain careers. On our own time we should be able to do any thing we want…but of course some things can’t be hidden for work, and we might not want to.. Certain businesses (like Tish and Snookys ) are more open to different styles. Perhaps you could do business things for a design, theater, music, dance, art or cultural enterprise where they would welcome your style as representative of their own culture of innovation and excitement. I am a “you”re never too old” person, but then as I’ve gotten older, I often think “why wait? enjoy it now!”

  3. Annie Mouse

    Since I hang out with a bunch of goths, Burning Man afficianados, punks and wackos, I don’t see age appropriate as A Thing. I work for a financial corporation, I’m 39 (40 soon!), I’ve been promoted twice in the last year… and I have purple hair and 23 visible piercings. I think it’s all in the rest of the presentation, honestly. My piercing jewelry is small and consistent, my hair is healthy and well maintained, and I dress in a manner consistent with my peers.

    Then again, my father goes to Bonnaroo with my husband and I, and my Mom has bright pink hair. So I may not be the best judge ever. Ha!

  4. Amy

    I dyed the highlights in my dark brown (and grey) hair Vampire Red this summer – I’m 48! – and have gotten surprisingly few comments in conservative Washington DC. Of course I’m in a creative field and own my own business, so I don’t need to answer to anybody, but I’ve never had the nerve to do it before. Turns out I love it, and it looks really cool with the color of the rest of my hair, even as it starts to fade out. I’m a convert, and I don’t care if anybody thinks I’m too old.

  5. Shanda Perry

    It’s all about decisions having the freedom to do what you like. In the 90s, I was a (seemingly) straight-laced kid surrounded by punk, goth and straight edge friends (think Mike from SLC Punk, but female). I joined the Navy a year out of high school, and for 13 years my ability to express my style was limited to how I dressed. “Faddish” hair, visible tattoos and piercings were pretty much verboten, but I wanted to try something so badly. Aside from slightly questionable hair colors, vaguely asymmetrical haircuts or easily hidden piercings and tattoos, we couldn’t get away with much.
    When I left the military, I entered corporate America – and my 30s. I became an expert at expressing myself via clothing, but the urge to really have fun with my look never faded. I have *some* freedom that I didn’t have while I was in the Navy, and it’s nice to be able to wear my braids down and paint my fingernails any color I like.
    Now, at almost 42, I am approaching a time when I can safely quit my job, stay home and concentrate on my own Etsy business. I can’t wait to dye my hair, wear braids down to my butt, and dress how I want for a change. I’m really looking forward to it, and it doesn’t matter that I’m in my 40s. In most ways, I’m the same person I was 20 years ago. I’m grateful to have the chance to finally do it. And I’m much better at dyeing my hair now, too 😀

  6. Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    Earlier this year I was on disability for 6 weeks and thought it was the perfect time to do something drastic with my look. The style of the shaved half head was happening and I have always loved that look. However, I just didn’t have enough of a need to do it, I realized because I had done it before in high school. I remembered when I left a conservative job at 29 and the next day went and got my nose pierced, it was something I wanted to do so strongly and for so long. I didn’t have that drive regarding my hair this go-round. It made me realize that the age when it goes from a fun experiment to trying to be hip with the kids is when you don’t have that gut instinct, that passion to do it. Maybe it’s because you did it before, maybe because you feel complete without it, but I think being bold with your appearance is awesome and appropriate at any age!

  7. Amanda Hofman-Frethem

    I went full mowhawk about two years ago. I’ve had all sorts of cuts, all sorts of colors. It took a bit of doing, but I went platinum around that time, and have kept it since then. It’s so easy to maintain. If I wear it down, it looks mostly like a pixie cut. I can also poof it up, do all sorts of stuff. I have crazy thick hair, so this helps bunches.
    I think you will love having this cut!