We all know the famous new-mom haircut. When I had a newborn, I got one myself: a short, low-maintenance pixie cut that allowed me to reduce my preening time and increase my diaper-changing time. I even went one step further than a simple cut and sacrificed my blonde locks for my natural brunette base, thus saving money and time in a colorist's chair.
There are other forms of "mom hair." Consider the perma-ponytail, a look that keeps tiny hands from pulling mommy's hair and keeps mommy's hands away from a blow-dryer. Then there's the all-telling baseball cap with the "McDonald's Employee" ponytail sticking out the back. We all know that signals a long night with a screaming teether.
But there is more than convenience and efficiency in our mom hairdos. Hair is our most obvious signal to the world of our internal state of mind. Hair can be linked to our moods and even our sexuality. When I look back at pictures of me in my short, dark crop, I shudder with memories of postpartum depression that went undiagnosed. After baby number two, with a little help from Zoloft, I stayed with long, blonde hair. Coincidence? I think not.
Hair is linked to a woman's sexual attractiveness, and lack of attention to hair can also signal that sexual energy is being temporarily diverted to put the baby's needs first. The onset of motherhood can bring a shift in identity as women move from being Barbie dolls to Betty Crockers, all on the way to becoming fully empowered women. (Women without children encounter a similar phenomenon as they age and sexual attractiveness becomes less important than their ability to be creative, productive and nurture the world.)
It's perfectly natural for women to care less about their looks while they do the rigorous work of caring for an infant. I'm less concerned about the new mom with her hair in a frayed knot than I am about the "hot mom" who's wearing her baby as an accessory -- and ignoring the fact that the babe's sunhat has been covering her eyes for 20 minutes. Putting baby first is nature's way.
"Mom hair" could signal depression if it also includes a lack of hygiene and a lack of desire to primp, ever -- even once in a while -- for the man of the house. So look closely in the mirror today. What is your hair is saying about you?