"I like it too, " I agreed, "But I have to say, I don't feel quite as sexy as when it's long."
"Sexy?" snorted my mom. "At some point you have to get over that."
I was taken aback. "I do? I have to get over the idea of being sexy? When, exactly?"
Mom raised her eyebrows and smiled sympathetically. It took a while for her meaning to sink in. Hey!
"I am not too old to be sexy, Mom, and neither are you! Feeling sexy is all in your own mind anyway and no matter what anyone else thinks, I am going to maintain my illusion that I am a sexy woman." My voice was getting shrill, so I took a sip of iced tea to calm down. "I'm a damn hottie." I muttered around my straw.
"Oh, yes you are, dear. You're very sexy - in a nice way." She patted my arm consolingly, speared an asparagus tip from her roasted vegetable salad, and changed the subject.
Since that lunch, the topic has been irritating me like a prickly tag inside a tight collared shirt. I'm 45 and I accept that things have changed. I'm not attracting wolf whistles from construction workers; no one is lining up to buy me drinks at happy hour. But inside, I'm still operating from the assumption that I am somewhat of a babe. But now my mom has me worried.
Is that little motor running inside of me - the one that makes me smile at my reflection in store windows, puts an expectant spring in my step, urges me to text silly things to my husband - is that motor gonna conk out one of these days? Gosh, maybe I'm already running low on fuel. After all, I cut my hair to my chin - is that a clue that my days of sexy are numbered?
My focus on my haircut is not mere frivolity. According to Dr. Debbie Then, a psychologist who specializes in physical appearance, "there is lots of research to show that men prefer long hair and that it's associated with sexual desirability." Long hair is alluring to the senses and, according to evolutionary theory, communicates good health and reproductive fitness.
A few decades ago, women of a certain age cut their hair because long (often graying) hair became too difficult to care for. Also, the heavy, flat styles of the day were unflattering to a maturing face, emphasizing sags and wrinkles. But today, layered cuts are the norm and with a vast array of hair care color and styling products, a woman over 40 can have the same silky, shiny mane of hair that she had as a teenager.
Times have changed - all the hot women over 4o in the media have long, flowing, sexy hair now. Just look at Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter and the cast of Desperate Housewives. For that matter, look at Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. But I digress.
My point is, that whatever the length of your hair, and however old you are, you deserve to keep your inner motor revving. There is no age limit on long hair and there is no age limit on sexy. Vroom, vroom.