I remember sitting for hours and hours as my mother untangled my hair every couple of days. There were four of us girls and she would line us up and we would take turns coming and sitting on our knees between my mom’s legs as she brushed out all of the tangles. Then when she finished, she would start again only this time it was putting our hair in curlers. She used to use large pink rollers for where our hair should have large curls then little ones for the smaller curls and finally pin curls (using bobby pins) for the tiny curls around our faces. We always had long hair and it took hours to take care of it but it was important to our mom that our hair be just right so she spent long hours making sure it looked perfect.
One summer she put a Lilt home permanent in my hair because my hair was very fine and would not hold the curl for very long so she permed it. I remember the chemical smell of the product and how important my mom said it was to get the time perfect or my hair would burn. I didn’t want my hair to burn and I sat obediently, not making a sound or moving a finger, so that my hair would not burn.
I think that’s what taught me to always have long hair. That’s the way I was raised. It was ladylike to have long hair, not short hair. In fact, all four of us sisters still have long, long hair, even though we are all in our late 50’s. That’s just the way we grew up.
I think too that the importance of women having long hair is one of the reasons my mom took it really hard when she had to have chemo therapy last year. She dreaded losing her hair but she knew it was coming. When it did, she refused to leave the house. Even though I had bought her a number of pretty scarves and hats to cover up her baldness, she would not go out except to doctor appointments. She wanted a wig but she wanted it to look like her own hair because if it didn’t, people might think she was bald! Go figure! I offered to buy her a wig online and have it delivered to her but she was afraid it would not be right and then she would feel bad about returning a gift and she’d keep it. So finally, I was able to go visit her. I had been going down to see her every couple of months but had not been there since before she lost her hair. When I got there, I made it a priority to take her to the next town over (well, a few towns over; it took an hour to get there) to a shop I had found online and I had her fitted for a wig. She finally found one that she liked and the woman who worked there was wonderfully patient with her until my mom was happy with what she had found. She was like a new woman with that wig! She was ready to go shopping and out to eat wearing her new wig!
I guess for us, maybe we’re like Samson. Our strength is in our hair. We keep it long to keep our strength. It doesn’t matter if it is almost completely gray. It’s the length that holds the key to our ladylike ways…to our strength.