Asian woman with medium-length, wavy brown hair wearing a yellow shirt

Beauty standards befall even the best of us. No matter how old you get, you must always adhere to something. A new trend to chase. A body shape to strive for. Just when you think you've escaped, a new one comes along. Take hairstyles for older women, for example. What's behind these unfair (and sometimes unflattering) stereotypes? Hasn’t any woman over 40 been through enough?

Jokes aside, despite the strides we’ve made in inclusivity and diversity, these standards still prevail. . If they don’t, they’re given all sorts of names. Bagets. Losyang. Cougar. Nagmumurang kamatis – the worst of the lot. Hair has become a barometer not just of age but, sadly, also of virtue.

Hairstyles for Older Women: What’s Not on the Menu

Nothing is inherently wrong with any hairstyle. Long, short, up, down, , or straight – they’re all the same bundle of cell growths on your head. Society assigns meaning to these otherwise innocent looks, associating them with character traits or giving them usually unflattering personalities. 

For example, the hairstyle now known as the “Karen” was once a common denominator among women in their 40s or 50s. These are usually Caucasian women who have gone viral for their inflated sense of entitlement. Now, Karen is a hairstyle only associated with older women – and one that the same age demographic avoids like the plague.

In the Philippines, an older woman with waist-length would no doubt be rumored to be an aswang, thanks, in part, to Shake, Rattle & Roll and the late Queen of Horror Cinema, Lilia Cuntapay. Imagine being so , you scare women away from .

Cropped or Cop Out?

Meanwhile, many advise clients against wearing their hair long (“Nakakatanda!”) or curly (Bruha!”). On the other hand, women who ask for sexier cuts and colors, like a layered, , may get teased for “trying too hard.”

These assumptions leave older women with no choice but to go with variations of the or . The logic? These styles serve a practical purpose. They mask , are easier to color because of their length, and – everyone’s favorite – are wash-and-wear. While these are by no means unattractive styles, they do represent the beauty standards that prevail to this day, and how women may be unknowingly upholding them.

The question is: Why resign to cookie-cutter styles when we can be addressing said hair issues instead? By collectively agreeing that these are the hairstyles older women should wear, are we, in some way, giving up on them?

No Such Thing

The fact is, the category “hairstyles for older women” is baseless and should not exist. Sure, shorter haircuts can help curb hair fall, but don’t women in their 20s and 30s get falling hair, too? Hair color and most hairstyles at any age. To add insult to injury, no one makes lists of hairstyles for older men. What’s up with that?

It may not seem like a big deal, but ascribing these issues solely to older women – as a result, limiting their hairstyle options – is ageist and misogynist. Why does Dame Helen Mirren need to justify her long, white hair? Why does Anna Wintour have to explain why she’s kept her after all these years?

Apo Whang-Od wears her hair long and white, and the world celebrates her beauty (among other things, of course). Why can’t we do the same for the everyday woman who can’t afford a hair color treatment or those who chose to embrace their graying hair?

Caring for Aging Hair

A woman’s hairstyle should be her own choice, and everyone should be free to choose short or long hair without being labeled a tita or a witch. Instead of succumbing to hairstyles that are supposed to be better for older women, you can adjust your routine so it fits your hair’s changing needs.

It can be as simple as switching to a to prevent further hair fall or using products that address it. A shampoo like Dove Hairfall Rescue+ Keratin Tri-Silk Serum Shampoo fortifies hair fibers with DynaZinc while Dove Botanical Anti Hair Fall Shampoo Silicone Free Primrose uses botanical oils to .

Of course, if you need or prefer short or colored hair, don’t let the pressure not to follow beauty standards stop you. Try not to search “hairstyles for older women” for your next and go with what you like. You deserve a look that makes you feel confident and beautiful, not one arbitrarily assigned to your "age group."