THE ART OF AGING – Part II: Old Women Wear Pigtails!

Sculptor Unknown

I love wearing pigtails. Some trend experts say mature women shouldn’t wear them, while others say we can and should.

One old aunt thinks that mature women wearing pigtails are trying to look younger. An even older aunt who’s approaching ninety, thinks pigtails are cool, that we’ve earned the right to wear them as we wish. So, what’s the big deal about mature women wearing or not wearing pigtails?

Before jumping in, let’s clarify. By old, I mean… let me put it this way—when I was taking piano lessons at age 8, I remember thinking my teacher was old. She might have been all of 40. I believe age is a perspective, differing from one point of view to another.

Therefore, for the sake of this discussion, we’ll go with Merriam Webster who says that old means advanced in years or age and showing the characteristics of age, which, according to Mayo Clinic, includes wrinkles and grey hair. ‘Nuf said.

Pigtails are associated with…

… childhood, schoolgirls, whimsical, frivolity… Are we older women not supposed to feel those things, or at least look like we feel them???

Pigtails are Practical

I pack a lot of living into a day, and pigtails are an easy solution for my longer, rather heavy hair. Pigtails are especially useful in keeping my head cool during hot summer days.

I position my pigtails where they’ll be most practical. Sometimes I braid them, often I don’t. For example, in tick season, my pigtails are worn higher and may be wound up as well. When gardening, pigtails placed a bit lower fit well under my ball cap or sunhat. My pigtails are workhorses… hmmm, interesting expression.

Picking up lice when traveling is not uncommon, especially when sitting on a tour bus in the tropics with your head against the same headrest that numerous others use. While visiting someone in hospital a while back, a public announcement warned that lice was found on a floor where we visitors were. Pigtails made it easier to hunt down any pesky nits that might have jumped on board.

Pigtails – Help for Headaches, Sore Scalp, and Thick Hair

And now, for the primo reason why I love my pigtails…

Sensitive scalp! Maybe it was sleeping in curlers way back when, or maybe it was my mother’s insistence from the time I was in preschool that my very straight hair be permed every four months.

Hair that is gathered at the top of my head hurts. It doesn’t matter if it’s in an elastic, clip, barrette, or piled loose and pinned. Pigtails don’t hurt. They don’t tug on those sensitive spots. My heavy, thick hair feels weightless in pigtails.

Comfortable in Your Own Skin

It takes courage to go against the grain, and mature women in pigtails have courage. I’ve found that the older women sporting pigtails are generally self-confident, fun-loving, and adventurous. They’re comfortable in their own skin, and that in itself I consider rare in this social media driven era where we are constantly subjected to limitless opinions about everything.

Mature pigtail wearers tend to be creatively independent, not tied to trends and peer pressure. They’re typically contented with how they look at their age. I’ve never asked these women if wearing pigtails gives them a surge of youthfulness. I hope it does!

Why aren’t pigtails worn more often?

A choir member once told me, and not so gently I might add, that mature women should not have long hair. I can only guess what she might have said had I shown up in pigtails.

Perhaps the criteria set by groups of women (and maybe men and gender neutrals as well???) for other women is completely dependent on how those criteria-setters view themselves. Is it not true that the ones stating what norms should be, do so based on their personal sets of values and interests?

We have choice when it comes to norms set by others. We can take their suggestions, ignore them, and/or create our own agenda. Those who do end up committing to trends and opinions obviously have a need to.

One meets all kinds of women in all kinds of places who set trends or who follow them. There seems to be a common denominator of both trendsetters and trend followers – the need to prove oneself. Being ‘with it’, in the group, part of the action, trendy, emerges out of the need to be one-up on others. Is it possible that older women wearing pigtails are criticized because we’re somehow perceived as a threat?

Marching to the beat of our own drum!

I’ve known women who can afford haute couture, and they embrace it most heartily. Their monthly hair salon bills would easily exceed that of a wage-earner’s annual salary.

Others I’ve encountered follow haute couture whether they can afford to or not. Some gals chat about haute couture as if they understand what it is, and then make a stab at following it. These women can be found reading magazines that promise amazing things, especially when it comes to fashion trends. I’ve had the misfortune to be in the company of such gals while they criticize and mock other women for their style or lack thereof.

It’s those who walk to the beat of their own drum, who express themselves freely and openly, that I’m most drawn to.

The beats of one’s drum can be the rhythm of poverty, where hairstyles are the least of concerns. That drum can beat the rhythm of the arts, where playing with creative hairstyles is fun. A beating drum can pull one into expressing deep-felt emotion, into making a statement via a hairstyle. That drum can beat the pulse of a despot such as cancer, where women lose their hair and are unequivocally forced to deal with it.

And, sometimes we’re drummed into following a code attached to our place of work or career. Having the confidence to give up personal choice for the sake of protocol, is respected.

Whatever the drum beat, mature women have a choice to wear pigtails or not.

Is there a WHEN or WHERE for old women to wear pigtails?

Do I wear pigtails all the time? No. I wear them when I feel like it, or when it’s the wisest thing to do with my hair. Do I wear them to make a statement? No. Would I wear pigtails in the workplace? Perhaps.

When I taught art, I wore them on hot days (my classroom didn’t have air conditioning). Surprisingly, they turned out to be an expression of fun and freedom to the upcoming artists in my classroom.

I wear pigtails when I want to, where I want to, and mostly because they’re a practical option in a given situation. One time, hours later after doing labour that required the ease of pigtails, I forgot they were in, and ran into the mall to make an equipment purchase for the job site I was on. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I realized I had gone shopping in dirty clothes and pigtails.

I believe the reason no one cringed or commented on my hairstyle, or on my appearance in general, was because no one really cared. Okay, well, maybe it’s because I motored through that store in such a rush to pick up the item needed for the project, that I was a blur… simply moving too fast for the average human eye :)!

Mature Expression

Whether to wear or not wear pigtails, do it thoughtfully.

  1. Consider the reason behind the choice. 
  2. Define your purpose. 
  3. Be prepared to ignore criticism. 
  4. Follow trends and guidelines judiciously.

Aging can be painful. If wearing pigtails eases that pain, ‘go hard’ and have fun! Be beautiful, be free!


Art Print by Alexei von Jawlensky

“Welcome to hell!” A visible shudder ripples through my aunt’s shoulders… The train of passengers, privileged and otherwise, trudges in the rain through a corridor of guards with machine guns… Finn leans back in his chair. The acrobatic cigarette once again flips through its moves in his left hand while his right hand thumb flicks the lighter on and off. “Knives are quick, noiseless, and convenient to carry. Those guys were in and out of there before anyone would have noticed that she was slain.”… Four footsteps. I sense a presence next to me… the smell of onions and garlic… the bureau drawer sliding open… a gentle touch on my shoulder slipping down my arm… cold fingers placing something soft into my hands… It’s when she mounts the rostrum that I see her four-inch stilettos, daggers to be sure, transporting her naked, unshaven legs…

Zita Anders spends her summer vacation visiting her father in one of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia where she experiences the poverty, corruption, and perversion that rake the newly independent nation her father has come to call home. ROSE IN A BROKEN BOTTLE is Zita’s account of the people, their land, and their hardships, of the fear and scourge, of the beauty and joy in a country that is so very broken. Her narrative is about the hope and loving relationships that emerge midst that brokenness. Inspired by a true story. | Analynn Riley is a Canadian author. BUY IT HERE

ROSE in a BROKEN BOTTLE – Adult novel based on a true story
NINE GIFTS- with Study Guide
THE CURSE – with Study Guide
RUSH of the RAVEN’S WINGS – Youth short story with Study Guide
NO PASSPORT FOR ÉTIENNE – Short story inspired by true events
THEFT OF BABY ILY – Short story inspired by true events
MYSTERY of the SINGING GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the TRACTOR GHOST – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the THREE SISTERS – with Study Guide
MYSTERY of the LOST CELL PHONE – with Study Guide
TEDDY MEETS KIBOKO – Children’s novel with Study Guide
KIDNAPPED SANTA – Children’s novel with Study Guide

UPDATE 13 May 2021: Readers wondering if this aging Canadian gal really does wear pigtails, here’s the proof in the pudding—photo taken today. I didn’t include a pic of myself in this blog written a few moons ago because I am camera shy! Negotiating with my family about my avoiding photos is even more trying, so here it is!

Analynn’s Music available at Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube
Arrow & the Song
May the Road Rise to Meet You
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Looking Back
Can’t help Lovin’ That Man
Young As The Spring
Danny Boy | Too-Ra-Loo | How Ireland Got Its Name

Links that might prove interesting or even helpful about pigtails and aging: