Monday, August 4, 2008

Women and change: What's with the buzz cut?

This question and topic is primarily directed to the women in the audience, especially maturing women. Why are so many women of a certain age starting to request silver gray buzz cut hairstyles? I mean crew cut type buzz.

I was nominally aware of this seeming trend earlier but since I didn’t know the women I allowed that possibly they actually had gray hair and the buzz cut was their usual. However, in the past couple of weeks I have come across some women that while I don’t know them extremely well I am familiar enough to know they are not that gray and a buzz cut was not a style they wore in the past.

These women stayed in memory for a couple of reasons: I was familiar with them, and I didn’t think their interpretation of buzz cut was particularly flattering. Another reason the last one stood out was that she wore skin-tight denim Capri’s with a striped tank top and one silver earring (and no, she wasn’t anemically thin). Probably someone is going to ask why I didn’t ask these women why they changed their looks and the answer is I don’t know them well enough to ask that personal a question. I think that sort of question one really has to be on a permission level to ask it of a person face to face.

The crux of my query is the age of these new women showing up with buzz cuts. Across time women in various cultures have turned to very short cropped or clipped hair. In current fashion though, buzzed hair has tended to run among hipper younger women such as singer Sinead O’Connor or marketing and business blogger Naomi Dunford. (This is not a kiss up to IttyBiz. Naomi just happens to have one of the most flattering photos of a woman’s buzz cut available that is not associated with a questionable morality website.)

Usually around here we talk about writing, or how to handle a life transition, or goals, or even photos; which is why I bring this up. I think, and I could be wrong, that this transition might be an attempt to reinvent self-perception. Why I think this is that the women that pique my curiosity are later middle age and probably flirting with the onset of menopause. Also some of them have late teenaged children, especially daughters. In my mother’s generation of women approaching menopause there was a tendency to compete with their daughters through weight loss, skirt length, more cleavage, blonder hair, and a lot more make-up. Some of them looked pretty funny, others almost scary.

So how did we get on the topic? The heart of the matter is change and how we cope with change either real or perceived. A woman who is transitioning from hands-on stay-at-home mothering into her second career, whether it’s full-time or part-time or whatever, is likely entering some phase of the menopause cycle with its twists and turns orchestrated by her particular physical, emotional, and hormonal blueprint. Menopause is not often a welcome word in our society. In the past it was interpreted as the end of womanhood for practical reasons. Menopause today, while not quite welcomed by trumpeters, is becoming more frequently projected as a time of rediscovery rather than merely an end time.

What do the definitions of menopause have to do with silver-gray buzz cuts? It probably depends on the woman but I have two guesses: the women are looking to be the redefinition of modern mature women, or they have decided to not wait for gray in its slow haphazard pattern to takeover and instead meet it head on.

So what do you think about older women making such extreme changes in their appearance? What about your own journey into and through the events of the change of life? Do you see it as an end or a new beginning? Even though males do not have a physical phenomenon that correlates to the female menopause they too experience a midlife season of change and questioning, and so are welcome to comment on this topic.

Edit: Okay, I'm a dork; the links have been inserted. Sorry.


Margaret Cloud said...

Just stopping by to ad my thoughts about this, I know Jamie Lee Curtis is seen on a TV commercial with one, I think they look awful, I guess they see it as a change into modern women.

Brenda said...

Ten years back I got a buzz cut and it was about convenience, curiousity and side-stepping stereotypes. I wouldn't get it today, but that decision has nothing to do with my silver hair. I'm just too pudgy to pull it off.

Having said that, I do love expressions of individuality ... at any age! Whether we're challenging self-perceptions or external ones, it is a mind-opening experience!

G's Cottage said...

@Margaret - I remember the Curtis buzz and I didn't think it was flattering but maybe it was the contrast from her usual look.

@Brenda - I tend to buck fad myself. But I'm always looking for inspiration to find my own trademark look so I often decline choosing something I like if it's too popular. But I wouldn't buzz, I would look too gaunt. And that would be seriously not a good thing. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Heh heh heh.

I have to laugh at this, because I ranted about the female buzz-cut about a month ago...

Read it if you dare (but just be aware that I'm a smart-ass, and don't take me TOO seriously!) :-)

- Friar

chelle said...

I am totally puzzled by the urge to de-sexualize oneself. I see a lot of women here and have been pondering a post on it. I do not get it. But maybe that is because i am not there yet?

Naomi from IttyBiz said...

First off, I read your comment policy and I promise to be G rated. This is difficult for me, as I'm sure you know.

First off, thanks for saying nice things about my hair. I can't speak for the over-50 set, but I found I was too attached to my hair. It's very thick and ramrod straight. Won't hold a curl. Stops growing right around the time it reaches the fattest part of my face, making me look like garden fungus.

I spent so much freaking time thinking about my hair that I realized, "Hey! If I spent all that time thinking about, I don't know, meeting deadlines or growing my business, I could be a very rich woman." So off it went, while the baby watched, totally fascinated.

Thank God my husband likes it. Either that or he likes that we have an annual family hair bill of zero.

G's Cottage said...

@Friar - I loved your post. I will visit again soon. Actually you wrote some things I don't think I would dare to write. Thanks for visiting.

@Chelle - That was my impression of the two local women. That is not to say that I think very short hair de-sexualizes all women, it depends upon their facial composition and how they carry themselves.

@Naomi - I know you are uber busy so thanks for stopping by to enlighten us. Also thanks for keeping it G-rated as I'd hate it if my granddaughter got banned from my blog (no she doesn't read yet but she can mimic letter order when you least expect it.)

I had not thought of the "too attached to my hair" angle. I too have enough hair for at least 2 other women but it has enough "body" (not curly, not quite a wave, but flounces at the right time) that it trains fairly easily. I keep it at the bottom of the ear but with the body it fluffs shorter.

Now I am never going to be able to get the "garden fungus" image out of my head. So be forewarned.

Anonymous said...

Hi I started buzzing my hair 2 years ago,,first because I had always been curious how it would feel...I just starting cutting one night and ended up with it all off.......I know it is too short half the time but I keep cutting it now I am addicted to the thought of cutting it would love to grow it to an inch maybe,,,

Anonymous said...

I am 67 years old and I buzz my hair, now for twelve years..Its neat, it's my personal style, I wouldnt dream of a change right now...I have fun with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

not all of us have straight,silky hair and once you get over THAT and work with what you have---buzzed,or extremely short naturals work brilliantly
and nothing beats healthy hair.

been buzzed,or cropped down for decades and 2 aunts long before me.

I most definitely would recommend it to all struggling with their hair or simply spending way toooooo much time and MONEY on it--conditioners,relaxers,colour,etc.

...have shoulder length for a while and cannot stand it anymore----going tomorrow to the barbar shop for a buzz,but not as extreme as some think--never down to the bone--will be about a quarter inch maximum -- !white hair and all--