The Case Against Mom Hair

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There are some things about motherhood that are impossible for me to comprehend. For instance, why would anyone refer to herself as a "MILF"? On purpose?

Or, what, exactly, are "mom jeans"?

But why so many of us fall for "mom hair"? That I understand ... because I fell for it too! But I am here to help you so that you don't make the same mistake I (and countless others) have. It may seem obvious, but here it is: Cutting your hair in a more "mom" style won't make your life easier.

In fact, it may do just the opposite.

Kristen Chase wrote an excellent post about the awful message moms that spend lots of effort on their children's appearance and none on their own are sending their kids (that mommy's not worth it), and she alludes to the curse of mom hair.

There's absolutely nowhere in any sort of parenting book that says you must lose your style, taste, and ability to use a hair dryer when you become a mother. Sure, you won't be walking out of the house wearing an evening gown and a full face of make-up, but who says you have to dress yourself in something that screams, "I've given up?"

It seems as though the instant that many women pop out their babies, they're instantly sucked into a capri-pant-and-ponytail-wearing vacuum. Or worse, they somehow rationalize the "cut it short because it's easier" hairdo.

They should castrate the hairstylists that willingly allow moms to do that to themselves.

Castrating hairstylists is a bit extreme, but I do agree with Kristen. Short hair isn't necessarily easier than long hair and vice versa. It all depends on your hair texture and what you consider to be a chore. If you hate walking around with wet hair, or hate the time you spend blow drying it? Then maybe long hair's not for you. But if you're like me and hate having to go the hair salon regularly, maintaining a short 'do is torture.

I emailed my friend Sarah of Hair Thursday (and who is expecting her second child any minute now!) for her thoughts on mom hair. Not surprisingly, she isn't a fan,

What's with the whole "I'm a new mom, therefore I must completely change my hair" mentality? Having a baby doesn't mean you need to sacrifice your current style. While I definitely understand the need to simplify your styling time after a new addition, the term “mom hair” makes me shudder. If you love long, flowing locks, keep ‘em long! If you want a shorter ‘do, chop it off! Just promise that whatever style you pick, you are choosing it because you love the style, not because it fits into the “mom hair” mold.

Yes! Not to be glib, but moms thinking about their hair would do well to heed Polonius' advice, "to thine own self be true."

(My apologies to Shakespeare.)

Speaking of glib, here's what the Today Show had to say about mom hair:

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I honestly don't know what the blonde psychologist was talking about (I swear I heard her say "you're a mom and you should be sitting under a tree breastfeeding?" Whaaat?) but I do agree that you should take a look at what message your hair is sending about how you feel about yourself and to pay attention to it.

So, how do you prevent "mom hair"? It's easy.

First, get your hair cut into your preferred style somewhere near the end of your eight month of pregnancy. Don't wait until too close to your due date in case the baby decides to make an early entrance, and definitely don't wait until after the baby arrives; you will not have the time, energy or desire to step into a hair salon for a while.

You will, however, be photographed holding your new baby and you will be visited by countless friends and family, and while you won't be spending hours on your hair, a fresh cut will help you feel and look presentable. This might seem frivolous, but there is very little you can control those first few weeks of your baby's life -- not hating your hair will be a huge relief.

Keep in mind that magical pregnancy hormones will keep your hair growing thick and growing at a furious pace well until after you give birth, so it's OK to go a little shorter than usual -- it'll grow back. However, now is not the time to try something new. REPEAT: do not drastically change your style right now. Ask your stylist to cut your hair in a way that will grow in nicely -- she'll understand.

A special note to long-haired mamas: when your baby is four or five months old, you will experience a drop in those magical pregnancy hormones we spoke of earlier. What this means is that you will be losing your hair at what seems like an alarming rate.

Don't panic, this is perfectly normal. But consider yourself warned: your hair will be falling in clumps every time you comb it, your baby will be pulling it and taking big handfuls of it with him, your shower drain will be clogged more than once.

Be careful, for this is the time where it is most tempting to go for a more "practical" cut, which is how so many of us wind up with "mom hair."

Around this time you may start thinking to yourself, "perhaps it is time to cut my hair short -- I'm so tired of the baby pulling it out" or "if my hair was shorter, it wouldn't fall out so much" or "I'm bored! I need to get out of the house! I know! I'll to go to the hair salon and do something drastic!"

No, no, no. A thousand times, NO!

Do NOT fall prey to the siren call of mom hair -- yes, having your hair falling out in clumps is no fun and babies have surprisingly strong grips -- but cutting your hair at this time out of desperation is a bad idea. Just don't do it!

Learn from me, for I know of what I speak.

After I had my first son, I went to the salon and told my stylist to cut my long hair to what I thought would be a respectable bob. Something that fell somewhere around the middle of my neck.

"Why?" he asked, as he luxuriantly brushed my hair. The hair I'd worn long the entire time he'd known me.

"Because it's falling out! I want to cut it so that it can get stronger."

He sighed. "Cutting your hair won't stop it from falling, you'll just have shorter hair strands on your comb."

(I'm sure this wasn't the first time he'd dealt with a woman on the verge of mom hair.)

I ignored him, of course, because I am stubborn.  He cut my hair into a cute bob. I was happy until I washed it and...there was hair all over my bathroom.

He was right. Cutting it short didn't stop it from falling out. And now my hair was too short to put into a ponytail. And it kept tickling my neck. And it would drive me crazy when it would get into my shirt collars. I ended up buying Goody barrettes out of desperation; they were the kind with glitter so I looked nothing like the sophisticated and respectable woman I hoped to look like with my bob. And the baby would STILL pull it, so I had accomplished nothing.

To add insult to injury, my hair took forever to grow back. In fact, it didn't fully grow back until I was pregnant with #2.

(Thank you, pregnancy vitamins!)

That time I didn't think to get a nice cut before the baby was born. So by the time it was falling out, I looked like a bad hippie impersonator, sans the peace signs and patchouli.

When my baby was around 6 months old, I wrote to Hair Thursday out of desperation -- my hair was long, but it was a drag, man. It was clogging up my shower drain again. Sarah gave me some fantastic hair advice, and here is the end result.

Much better, right? And very much like my hair looked like before I had kids, in all honesty. But why mess with what works?

What happened when baby #3 came along last fall? I followed my own advice and got my hair cut in the eight month of pregnancy and then didn't think much about my hair until the baby was six months old. By then my hair was falling out in clumps, yet again.

But this time I didn't panic. I simply went into the salon for a trim. And then I sent my husband to Costco, where he purchased an industrial-sized bottle of Drano.

Problem solved.

What do you think about mom hair? Did you cut it when you became and mom? If so, did you regret it? Or did you get a mom cut and love it?

If I'm not here, I'm at my blog or on Twitter

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