Changing the eyeliner, or at the very least, adding some bangs

My family will be celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary next month. As such, my siblings and I are trying to pull together something special for them in the form of a book of pictures, a page for every year they have been together.

It’s kind of a monumental undertaking, actually. We’re also discovering that it’s easier to find pictures of them as grandparents in the digital age than pictures of them as parents in the 70s. But we’re slowly digging things up, and I’ve come to a shocking conclusion.

I have had the same hairstyle for upwards of twenty years.

The length has changed a little bit, but not much. With very few exceptions, I’ve had it in the same style for almost 2 decades. It’s kind of disheartening, actually.

I lamented this to my sister, and she said, “Why are you surprised? You hate change.”

Really, I do? No I don’t. I like new and exciting things. I love them!

She then reminded me that every time she takes me shopping, I end up with something that resembles what is already in my closet.

Dang. She’s totally right.

But not everything about me is the same since 1992. I console myself with the knowledge that I wear black eyeliner on my top eyelid now, vs. green eyeliner on the bottom. And blue mascara hasn’t touched my eyes since 1989 (when it was paired WITH the green eyeliner and, most likely, blue eyeshadow.). I also have the photographic evidence of a long, drapey sweater that went almost to my knees. I wore it in 1997, and I know I bought it because I wanted to wear leggings underneath it (with chunky socks and Doc Martin boots, of course), and it’s so ugly there is no way I’d be caught wearing it today.

I will admit, though, that the triumph of recognizing that something had gone out of style was tempered with the realization that the sweater my sister was wearing the in the same picture is currently sitting on a shelf in my closet. (I didn’t inherit the sweater, so it means at one point my sister and I had the same taste. It just also means she has moved on and I haven’t.)

I don’t know why this is disheartening. Maybe it means I’m not as daring as I’d thought. Maybe it means I that I am comfortable with looking a certain way, and it’s not that the few times I’ve branched out that it’s looked bad, just that it didn’t look like me (although the Hillary Clinton look? Circa 2000? Shudder.). Maybe we all have this picture of what we look like in our heads, and if the picture on the page doesn’t match the picture in our brains, we get uncomfortable and adjust accordingly.

Or maybe at the end of the day, I am indeed afraid of change. Is change good? Is it bad? Why would I be afraid of it? Like I said, I really don’t think of myself as stuck in the mud, don’t want to do things differently. I’m happy to have somebody say, “Is there a better way? Let’s try it!” and I like the idea of progress, in general terms. At least, I think I do. I mean, who would be against progress? Isn’t that, like, what Mormons DO?

But maybe I am just scared that in the changing, I’ll lose who I am. Or I won’t recognize myself when I get there. Or maybe I’m finally comfortable just being who I am–a fairly average looking woman with stick straight shoulder length blond(ish, depending how long it has been since I’ve been to the salon) hair that is parted from right to left with wispy bangs. Straight and boring, not too outrageous, unoffensive and practical. Maybe that’s my comfort zone?

Give me your thoughts on how you or your look has evolved through the years (or not, as the case may be) and what it says about you or your life circumstance and where you are comfortable.

At the very least, however, I do think I need updated hair. Maybe I’ll head to the salon next week, and (gasp!) get some bangs.

About Heather O.

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

16 thoughts on “Changing the eyeliner, or at the very least, adding some bangs

  1. Heather, if you didn’t also have emerald green mascara in 1989, you were doing better than some of us ;)

    I thought I had changed quite a lot (and I have, really!, in some ways–no more green mascara, at least), but a new friend recently said something about my “teenager clothes.” Sigh. Since I am actually the mother of teenagers now, more change is clearly in order…

  2. Since my method of changing my hairstyle drastically usually involves weeping in front of the mirror while looking at my brand new self-cut bangs after having a really ill-considered moment with a pair of scissors, I really don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question.

    (Although I sort of like my bangs now that they’ve been fixed by a professional.)

    In general I stick with bob to shoulder length, all one length stick straight blonde hair. Tis my destiny. I don’t really understand makeup so I tend to keep it simple. Now and then I will go off on a wild tear and go to Sephora and come home with this or that new make-up type thing but it almost always ends up sitting in a drawer somewhere. Whenever I try something drastically different in the make-up department I end up just feeling silly. And I don’t like heavy eye make-up – on me or anyone else my age. I think it looks really aging on most middle-aged women. Not that it’s any of my business. I’m sure plenty of women don’t like my ripped up tennis shoes. Tomatoe Tomahto.

  3. I had the same hairstyle for 10 years (long, straight, brown) and I finally just chopped off about a foot a few months ago, with some bangs and layers. I have wanted to do that for years, but I was always scared that I’d hate it, but I LOVE IT!!! Not once have a missed my long hair. Change is good, though it takes some getting used to. I say do something drastic!

  4. I had the same hairstyle for 20 years too, and decided in my early 40’s that it seemed like a lot of women dyed their hair and cut it really short as they grew older. So I quit dyeing mine and grew it out. (I started dyeing it after someone asked me if I was the mother of the bride when I was 36.)

    And now I’m growing out my bangs. Last time I did that I was 12. I hate change–but it was time to make that one. Good luck!

  5. I am constantly tweaking my hair–I’ve had it pretty short for 5 years and now I’m growing it to my collarbone. (That’s as long as my stylist thinks will work with my oblong face.) Having younger sisters has helped to keep my wardrobe in check too. Seeing them in skinny jeans helped me to be brave enough to try them too. (And I LOVE them!) Becoming single again made me more conscious of my “look” and I’ve been putting more effort to getting up to date–and it’s been fun!

    I say find a good stylist that you trust and ask them for hairstyles that would flatter your face shape & work with your hair texture. Mix it up & have fun!

  6. Yeah, I think this is a normal rite of passage as we enter our late thirties. We all know the women who still sport the same hairstyle they did in their yearbook pictures, whether it be the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and on… It’s dismal to think the 90’s were not just ten years ago now.

    I recently chopped 20 years of hair off for this exact reason. I’m still not sure about it, and keep checking to see how much it’s grown back yet, but I also think it was a good move. My hair had become something of a security blanket, and it needed to go. Moving forward in lurches and starts, push myself- the older people I admire are the ones who are not afraid of new things- they don’t try and be teenagers (heaven help us it was bad enough once!) but they do stay current and are not afraid of new things. If I want to be like them as I get older, I have to push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes.

    Otherwise I’m going to be the crazy old lady down the street…and I really don’t want that.

  7. I change my hair a lot. I grew up knowing I didn’t want to be one of those women still stuck in the 60s (I was a teen in the 80s so there were women stuck in whatever their hair was at age 20). So, even though I don’t take a lot of time or expense with my appearance, I change my hair a lot.

  8. I too have the same hairstyle that I had back in my senior year of high school – so back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. I have evidence that I did change it a few times, even letting it grow a little, got some perms, and then highlights when I hit 29, which I kept up until a couple of years ago when my children wondered what my natural color really was. I have found my “old” style to suit me and is easy to care for, although I must admit I did get it highlighted again last month because I love the lift it gives my spirit, not to mention it makes me feel younger – whether that is the really the case or not. Of course not one person, not one, has made a comment about the change. ;-) I mentioned it to my daughter who simply said “I thought there was something different about you…” At least it makes me feel good and ultimately that is what it is all about, right?

  9. Awwwww… That’s sweet Nate.

    I do get my hair highlighted on a regular basis. It hides my grays and helps me feel pretty.

  10. I think that face shape and hair type dictate our hairstyles for the most part. Although there are lots of hairstyles out there that I would love to have, it’s not ever going to happen because they won’t suit my face shape or my hair type. So, I think that feeling down about having basically the same hairstyle forever is not worth getting down about. I think that most people can only ‘pull off’ a few hairstyles — ever. On the other hand, I think that what we wear should keep up with the times better. If you’re still wearing something from over 10 years ago (CONGRATULATIONS THAT IT STILL FITS!!), then it’s time to switch up your wardrobe. Thrift shopping and Ross are great ways to change out some of your clothes, and to freshen and update your wardrobe without spending a lot. And shoes are definitely something that change and can be indicators of what decade you’re still stuck in. I think that wearing in-style shoes is one of the best ways to update your look.

    I am coming to a dilemma: Growing up, I swore I’d never dye my hair. I saw nothing wrong with letting nature take its course and hair going gray. It just felt fake and like you were trying to hang on to your youth by dying your hair. Now that I’m 41, and I’ve got many episodes of What Not to Wear under my belt, I see how dyeing your hair (especially slightly darker than natural) helps you look younger and more healthy. I’ve also noticed quite a few gray hairs on my head. I’m tempted to dye my hair, but I don’t know if the young version of myself and her opinion of lots of make-up and hair dye is right or not. Even though I have this aversion to dyeing my hair, I have no problem highlighting my hair, which I’ve done every spring since I was 13 — until this year. This spring/summer, I decided that maybe the highlights make my hair look thinner and make me look older, so I stopped. Which is probably why I can see more gray now. Hmm.

    And, “awwwwwww!” to your husband’s comment!!

  11. Hey Nate, that almost makes up for your ‘7’ comment. ;) sorry to bring that up, but I laughed for days over that one.

    I’m with you Heather, I hate change. And my hair hasn’t changed much in THIRTY years. But I’m due for some good make up.

  12. I don’t like change either, but decided to grow out my bangs…so glad I did. My hair is one length now and I have embraced my wavy hair instead of fighting against it. Doing that made life simple. I dye my hair…I tried not to and I looked a million years older then my sibs…more like my mom’s sister, so the dye job came back.

    I don’t wear much makeup anymore. I stopped because I lived in a hospital for the first 8 years of my son’s life…not sense in wearing it when I was stuck in a tiny room 24/7.

    Love skinny jeans and will wear them forever. I Dislike the wide leg jeans. Heels are an out. Always have been. jeans and tennis shoes all the way!

  13. I went to a very super short pixie about 10 years ago and it suits my long face so nicely that I’ll probably just keep it forever. At some point, I think I’m too old and uninterested in following all the whims and fancies of the day. I have a pair of True Religion jeans that are all ‘blinged’ up on the back pockets and such. I’ve worn them exactly once because I felt so ridiculous in them. Does it mean I’m getting to old for that stuff? I just don’t want to look like I’m trying to still pretend to be 20. So yeah, maybe I’m getting old and crusty.

    Be happy with yourself and let the rest go. If you want bangs, I say go for it. But you’ll be beautiful either way! (Unless you wear green mascara; all bets are off if you do that…)

  14. Maybe it’s not that you are afraid of change, maybe it’s that you’ve found something that works for you. And if it works, why treat it like it’s broken?

  15. I have gone from two extremes, back and forth really. VERY short in high school (chopped 14″ in 9th grade) to very long (lower back) and I’ve done that a few times. Have also done the blonde look when my hair started to go darker. Right now it’s around waist length and light brown. Do what you are comfortable with. I need a wash and go look and that what I have. I love the options and that’s my life. When my kids are grown and I have the time/money/energy to get to a salon I may go short and color it again. But I’ve always wanted to be the old lady with silver long hair, so we’ll see when I get there what feels right. Be true to your self and only change if you REALLY want to. And don’t forget- humidity and bangs don’t generally mix, unless you used SUPER Hair spray. when I lived out west, bangs worked well. On the East coast, not so much! Good luck with it all!

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