Never Fully Tressed: The Long-Hair Icons We Just Can't Get Over

There’s something a bit embarrassing about being a grown woman of 28 who still wants to be able to sit on her own hair.

Like still collecting scented gel pens or Beanie Babies with tag protectors on, it feels as though waist-length tresses are something I should have given up as soon as I was too old to have my mother comb through them every Sunday with Johnson’s No More Tears.

But while the rest of the world happily chops and changes with fashion, mood, age, and the weather, there are some of us who just can't give up the dream of lush, arse-grazing mermaid locks. Long hair, do care. Okay, it's not making a radical statement for womankind, but every time we see Jessa on Girls looking like a latter-day Pre-Raphaelite painting, all thoughts of those sensible Alexa-length layers go out the window.

For the past four years, I’ve used Mane and Tail horse shampoo (a cult U.S. brand remarketed for humans – you can buy it in Liberty and Urban Outfitters, but don’t because it’s half the price online from Pak Cosmetics) to coax mine to lengths worthy of a gymkhana rosette. Guys, it works. I don’t know how, but it does; I’ve gone from stubbornly shoulder-length to complete boob-coverage.

“It’s SO LONG,” friends tell me as it whips them in face on dancefloors. “There’s just so MUCH OF IT,” my boyfriend sighs in his nightly fight for pillow space. But I am hair dysmorphic. I want it a foot longer, at least. Every few months, hairdressers will wrinkle their noses and brandish scissors while I shrink away in fear, the voice of Amy from Little Women in my head screaming, “Jo! Your one beauty!”

I know it might be liberating to cut it shorter. How nice it would be not to have to yank it painfully out from under my handbag strap once every 40 seconds, or constantly singe it on the gas hob. But stupid long hair has its uses too — it doubles up as a scarf, a bib, and a mask against bad smells on public transport. By wrapping myself in a blanket of my own dead protein, just think how much I’ve saved on wedding pashminas!

Besides, I’m not talking about mimsy Disney Princess hair. This is not the bleach-battered barnet of a Real Housewife, or the ceramically straightened curtain of Paris Hilton circa 2003. No, the long hair hall of fame is reserved for hair with a whole lot more life in its lengths and oomph in its roots. It's for hair of all shades and shapes that isn’t ashamed to take up space.

And it might be more traditional than a pixie crop or a pageboy, but when society tells us our hair should be mid-length and manageable like the Duchess of Cambridge and then chopped off into a sensible Mum cut the moment we hit 40, there’s something about wild, wandering locks that can still feel rebellious.

So here are the long-locked idols keeping our Lady Godiva dreams alive. Let’s hear it for hair! Hip hippie, hooray.

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Photo: Getty
Marcia Brady

We first came to Marcia’s hair through the mid-90s Brady Bunch movie remakes (no shame), and like all good nerds, soon sought out the original for comparison. The perfect example of how ‘lank’ can sometimes be the highest compliment, Maureen McCormick was a proto-Jessa for more innocent times. Those ‘70s front kinks are everything.
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Joni Mitchell

With hair this lovely, you could turn up at house parties with a guitar and start playing it and nobody would even mind.
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They say we’re young and we don’t know, won’t find out until we grow… and grow. The ‘80s perm; the mermaid bouffant; that time in the “Believe” video when it turned actually fibre optic – Cher has never brought less than her very best hair game.

But if I could turn back time (sorry), I’d want the full rundown on her shampoo and brushing technique circa 1966. How so shiny? How such perfect bangs? Did she ever get it caught in her tambourine? Cher, do share.
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Lisa Bonet

Having rocked her waist-length dreads on red carpets far and wide since the ‘90s, Bonet gets bonus points for bringing braided babe, Zoe Kravitz, into the world.
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Diana Ross

The original Lady Di has spent decades flying the flag for a mane that fizzles with texture and energy. Never not magnificent.
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The Birth of Venus

A hero in a half shell. Tendril power.
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Daryl Hannah

Sorry Ariel. We love what you did with that fork and all, but when looking for mermaid hairspiration it’s going to be Hannah every time. For one thing, hers looks as though it might actually have encountered saltwater.
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Phoebe Buffay

Oh, you thought it was going to be Rachel? Well you thought wrong. Because with thickness the like of which Jennifer Aniston’s locks have never seen, it’s Phoebe that really brings the hair game in Friends season one — 1994, the innocent days before ceramic straighteners came along to ruin the fun.

Let’s not talk about what happened to Phoebe’s hair later, though. It’s too painful.
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The Lady of Shalott

Pre-Raphaelite perfection from the brush of John William Waterhouse, providing not only a reason to skip your next trim but also a helpful lesson in how to wear peasant sleeves, and some serious appliqué quilt goals.
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Lorde’s hair is so big because it’s full of secrets. Secrets like what diffusers are actually for, and how nice it is to be able to use your own hair as a travel pillow.
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Priscilla Presley

When you’re marrying the world’s most famous quiff, you have to raise your game. Or rather, your roots. Priscilla’s here to teach us that we can have it all — hair that is a foot high AND down past your boobs. Never quit dreaming, guys!
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Jillian Hervey from Lion Babe

Fact: The collective noun for each of Jillian Hervey’s curls is ‘a pride’.
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Obviously. Bow down. Queen Bey knows the power of a mighty mane, as a statement and a lyric as well as a lewk.

Better find a pen and start taking notes, Becky, because Good Hair? You’re looking at it.
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Sarah Harris

British Vogue’s fashion features director and high-end silver fox is proof that hair doesn’t deserve the chop as soon as it turns grey. Snowy, silky, sublime. See also: Yasmina Rossi and Mary Beard.
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Neelam Gill

Let’s take a short break from brow envy to admire Neelam’s other big hair victory, shall we? All 12 glossy metres of it.
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Crystal Gayle

Famed more for her calf-length tresses than her music, the country star is living proof that if you dream hard enough and get enough good clean midwestern air, miracles really can happen. At least to your follicles.
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Jemima Kirke

While we can all applaud Shosh’s courageous efforts in the world of doughnut fascinators and reverse ombre, Jessa takes the Girls hair crown every single time. Hers is the rippling mane of a Narnian wood nymph. An embarrassment of dirty blonde riches. The perfectly mussed curtain of ever-so-slight waves that no curling wand from here to Brooklyn will ever be able to recreate.

In fact, I strongly suspect the only way to achieve Jessa hair is to live in a sealed chamber for 50 years, then have energetic but non-sweaty sex in the toilets of a dive bar. If I ever find out, I’ll let you know.
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Photo: Getty
Yoko Ono

BRB, just off the write a new version of “Jealous Guy” entirely about Yoko’s luscious, untamed mane. True art gives no shits about serum.
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Naomi Campbell

Although the damage done to Naomi’s hairline by decades of weaves and wigs has been well documented by less sympathetic quarters of the media, it’s hard not to be seduced by those gleaming ‘90s extensions. The original super swooper.
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Meryl Streep

Our lady Meryl here, pulling off a phenomenal performance as ‘woman with incredible hair trying very hard not to deck Woody Allen.’ Give each strand an Oscar.

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