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wilma's avatar

What do you think of when you hear the description "wise woman hair"?

Asked by wilma (15830 points ) April 25th, 2011

I have had people (strangers) come up to me and say “Oh! you have wise woman hair, I love it”. This has happened to me more than once, by both men and women, but more often women will say it. They seem to think that they are complimenting me, and I take it that way, but I wonder if it really is a complement?
What does that mean, “Wise woman hair”? what would you guess it looks like?

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36 Answers

syz's avatar

I have never heard that, and have no idea what it would mean.

seazen_'s avatar

New one for me.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve never heard the expression but the people who say it seem to think it is a compliment. Is your hair long, worn in a ponytail with a fair amount of gray in it? That’s what comes to my mind hearing that. Or slightly wild gray hair? I’ll be curious to follow the thread because as I said I’ve never heard it and would love to know what it means and where it comes from. Maybe it’s a regional expression.

Cruiser's avatar

I have heard it used when referring to a salt and pepper scattering of gray and usually on woman who have never or have abandoned coloring their hair.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I’ve never heard of it before.

seazen_'s avatar

I had to descibe someone once, for a show, and she looked oldish – I hesitate here – women and all that – but she must have been in her 60’s – not old – I said oldish so leave me be women – anyway – she was adorable looking – with long grey hair in a ponytail and spectacles – not glasses, you know – like a librarian’s of the day – and she had this twinkle in her eye and was really nice and friendly: I described her, for lack of a better expression – as looking like – everybody’s favourite aunt.

picante's avatar

I’ve never heard the expression, but I’m strangely charmed by it. Just a bit of Googling has led me to believe it is used to describe long, gray hair. And that’s what my mind’s eye went to as I read your question.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Long and grey? Silver if you are extra lucky :)

peridot's avatar

Never heard of that term before, but I envision a long, thick mane of wavy silver or white hair. This typically looks best on beautiful women of a mature age (not necessarily “old”, whatever that really is); I have a picture (but no scanner) of such an image. I’m a little envious of the woman portrayed therein, frankly; for myself, I figure I’ve got about ten years to cultivate said hair and the wisdom to back it up (I hate posers! LOL). All I have to do is take good physical care of myself, go completely grey or white, and gain a boatload of wisdom…......

wundayatta's avatar

Wiry gray hair, that kind of flows in a jagged and wavy way. Like this.

stardust's avatar

I’ve never heard of it before. I find it amusing – not you or your hair, just that there’s a category such as wise woman hair.

ucme's avatar

Well, my first thought is of a stygian witch. I’m sure however that your hair is in far better shape :¬)

wilma's avatar

@ucme my skin is in better shape that that as well. ;)

ucme's avatar

@wilma Of that I have no doubt…..baby XD

wilma's avatar

My hair looks very much like my avatar looks right now.
That isn’t me, but my husband just walked in and asked when I had that picture taken, he thought it was me.

Edit, actually I think my hair is a bit more “white” than that woman’s.

WasCy's avatar

Well, darn it, I guess I have wise woman hair, too, only crose clopped… or something like that.

This might explain some of my difficulty getting dates with heterosexual women.

PS: It looks to me like “hot woman’s hair”. But maybe that’s just because it’s so complementary to mine.

wilma's avatar

I would give you much more lurve if I could @WasCy

Jeruba's avatar

The image that pops first to mind is gray frizz, something like this. Probably it’s just meant as a euphemism for gray or white hair generally.

The stereotypical witch’s hair is another likely image. “Wise woman” could, of course, be another name for a witch—even though, contrary to what I thought, the two words do not come from the same root.

My hair stylist refers to my patch of white hair as “wisdom hairs.”

AmWiser's avatar

Sheese! I just asked Mom, she’s 90, and she never heard the expression either. But she does have beautiful grayish/white hair and she is very wise, so I’m wondering…..

linguaphile's avatar

I agree with almost everyone who replied- it brings to mind long, wavy silver/gray or salt/pepper hair that’s pulled back into a low ponytail.
Not many women who have gray hair let their hair grow long, or leave it gray. It takes a certain personality to have long, gray hair like your avatar and for me, it brings to mind someone who’s spiritual, earth-mothery, down to earth, naturalistic, tolerant and understanding, has a small knowing smile and a twinkle in her eye… a “wise woman.” I don’t know you well, but does that sound like you?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I thought of Dumbledore.

Jeruba's avatar

My hair was dark blonde and grew in silver-white in a small streak right in front when I was about 22. Over the years the streak widened little by little. Around the time that it started to get seriously gray, I began coloring it to match my then medium golden brown hue, but kept the white streak separate, untouched by dye. For some reason, people tended to think that was the part I colored!

When I retired a year and a half ago, I decided that that was it for short professional hairdos and lots of fussing and product. I started letting my jaw-length hair grow out—and letting the white streak widen as if by nature. By now the whole front is white from ear to ear, and it sort of blends and makes streaks with the rest when I comb it back. It’s also past shoulder length.

By December of this year, I am going to go the rest of the way: take everything that now remains light brown and dye it white to match all the natural silver-white in the front. From then on, no more hiding my own color. By then it will also be pretty long.

I may never cut it again, just trim it for neatness.

I know women past a certain age are supposed to wear short hair, but I don’t care.

I’m also thinking seriously of painting one little patch blue. Or purple. Or both.

Jeruba's avatar

P.S. Hair is comical, so I think we ought to have fun with it.

Facade's avatar

Long, gray, in a fancy bun.

wilma's avatar

@linguaphile I’d like to think so. ;)
@Simone_De_Beauvoir, I do kind of look like Dumbledore from behind. :)
@Jeruba I had lots of white hair when I graduated from high school. It really went crazy after that, and by thirty I was where you are now. I hope you are enjoying your new-found hair freedom. I am thinking of getting one of those little pin in streaks in bright pink.
I have never colored my hair, and I’m not much for doing a lot of fussing with it. I tie it up in a messy bun, or pull it back in a ponytail. I sometimes have it down in soft curls or natural waves.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t suppose anyone decided to check out the picture I posted a link to above. A little more bedraggled in front, but maybe pretty similar in back.

wilma's avatar

Yes @wundayatta I checked it. What you linked to is what I think of too. Also this.
I was wearing my hair pulled back something like that the last time (just last week) that someone gave me the “wise woman” description.

The man that said that to me was a Native American artist that I met at a Native American museum. His hair was also long and streaked with white.

wundayatta's avatar

@wilma How did you feel about the compliment? Did you believe it? Did you think you actually fit the part, or just look the part? Does confirmation of the look feel like confirmation of the assessment—rather, did you think the person who said it also believe you were wise because you looked wise?

Should I ask a separate question?

linguaphile's avatar

From the Native American spiritual perspective, that is the highest form of a compliment!

wilma's avatar

@wundayatta I was a little bit confused about the “compliment”.
There have been different settings and different people doing the complimenting.
When it was the man, I did feel complimented and somewhat validated. He had talked with me for a few minutes before he said it, and I felt like he was trying to determine just who I was and if my hair fit his idea of “wise woman”.
The last woman who said it, (just last week, actually it happened twice in one day) approached me at a college function. She was a bit excited when she said it, and I just replied with a “do I?” and she said “Oh yes, “wise woman hair’ I love it, I wish I had it.” She also in her excited conversation said the word “crone” . I have differing versions in my mind of what I think “crone” means. Some I think are complimentary, and some, maybe not. I wasn’t as apt to take her description as a true compliment as it was based completely on her perception of what my hair stood for.

Do I feel like a wise woman? Some days I do. I am over 50, but not much, and I have common sense and have learned a few things along the way. Some days, not so much, but usually I have a fair amount of confidence in my decisions. If that is what wisdom is?

wilma's avatar

@linguaphile , I was kind of hoping that, but I don’t suppose the guy really knew me very well after a short conversation.
When I was thirty five and had white hair people thought that I colored (uncolored?) it that way. In my late forties, they would think I was older than I was, until they looked at my face and some would say “oh at first I thought you might be older, but now that I see your face, I can tell that your hair is prematurely white.”
Now I don’t know what to think. I do know that some people have their own ideas about who you are just by how you look, and some reserve their opinion until they get to know you.
As I get older, and “grow into my hair” I think that I will get less comments about it, at least to my face.
They will probably still say behind my back, “look at that freaky old lady.”

wundayatta's avatar

@wilma I’m sure there have been a few questions here about what wisdom is.

You probably know this, but in case you don’t, “crone” is a term of respect amongst a certain group of feminists. Crone = wise woman. It is the idea of taking back the power of women who have been around a while and have gained wisdom over the course of their life.

In our youth oriented culture, there is often a lack of respect for the wisdom of elders. I hope that is changing. But it is particularly horrendous with women, because of the perception that age in women is ugly, and once a woman is ugly, there is no longer any need for her.

Personally, I find age to be very attractive, perhaps in large part because the grey hair symbolizes having a lot of experience, and knowing that experience is a major source of wisdom. Also, and I’m sure most people think this is weird, I find long gray hair to be sexy. I think that is because I associate it with intelligence, which is always a turn-on.

Some women are wise in disguise, though. They may have kept their natural coloring for a long time, or they may color their hair. I think one must always verify wisdom in a person by getting to know them. By talking to them a lot. In real life, you can use gray hair as a sign. On the internet, you only have words to go by anyway.

I recently discovered a woman who sported a very young avatar. But her words were wise. I had a difficult time reconciling this. It really bothered me that someone as young as her avatar looked could know the things she knew. Of course, it turned out she was over 50. When I found that out, I was pretty relieved. My world was back in its place.

wilma's avatar

@peridot I hope your wish comes true!

Jeruba's avatar

@wilma, my grandmother’s hair grew out all white when she was in her early twenties. (I think I got her genes just for part of my head.) Although for a while it probably make her look older than her years, over the long term it made her seem ageless. Decade after decade, she seemed not to change. When I was in my forties, she looked the same to me as when I was a little girl.

wilma's avatar

@wundayatta yes, I do know that crone does not necessarily mean ugly old hag with a malevolent disposition. But to some folks it does, so I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to embrace the term just yet.
The fact that you find long gray hair to be sexy is encouraging, and I do know that you are not alone in those feelings.
I also love your “wise in disguise” description.

wilma's avatar

@Jeruba I have hope then, that my grandchildren (and others) will see me that way as well.

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