Pink Hair: A Sign of Mid-Life Confidence

Photo: Ondrea Barbe/Trunk Archive

Recently a girl in my 9-year-old son’s class said to me, “I really like your nail polish!” It was hot pink with an accent nail covered in silver glitter, and would easily have been at home on Barbie’s tiny, perfect fingernails. But I am not Barbie, nor am I a third grader. I’m a 43-year-old mom of two with a mortgage. It was the first time I thought, “Am I not age appropriate?”

All evidence points to “yes.” In addition to my penchant for nail art—I commemorate every holiday on my digits—I’ve done some questionable things to my hair over the last five years. There was the time I shaved one side of my head. A few weeks later, 21-year-old Miley Cyrus did the same thing. (To my delight, 40-year-old supermodel Amber Valletta just shaved the sides of her head before walking Lanvin’s runway in Paris this week.)

Related: Love is in the Hair

Then there was the time I decided the best way to counteract what I considered to be a "mom" cut was to dye my hair pink four years ago. I’d wanted to do it since Gwen Stefani took the pink plunge a few years prior, (she’s 44), so one jar of Manic Panic (and a few minutes of REAL panic) later—I had unicorn hair. At the time, I was working as a nurse practitioner at an outpatient pediatric oncology clinic. My bosses were supportive of my cotton candy hair, because anything that brings a bit of lightness and fun into that environment is generally welcome. The second day I had pink hair, I attended an evening parent function at my sons’ school and everyone wanted to touch it. I ended up in a disproportionate amount of photos that night. My kids, for the record, did not think it was cool. After the pink faded, my younger son said, “Mom, you’re just leaving your hair blonde, right?”  Sigh, yes. For now.

It’s probably easy to scream, “Mid-life crisis!” at me while reading this. Or I suppose you could accuse me of being tacky. But you’d be mistaken—it’s more like mid-life confidence, though. In my twenties, I was trying too hard to be taken seriously, to build a career, to date; I wasn’t interested in making a statement. Now I am, and beauty is my medium. (My wardrobe is sophisticated; no butt-baring bodysuits in my closet, no offense to Jennifer Lopez (45).) Not caring what people think is so liberating. If purple glitter eye shadow comes into my life hell yes, I’m going to try it out. Life’s too short not to.

Related: How I Got to be a Magazine Cover Girl (Without Any Makeup)