by by Alex Ronan

illustration by by Annie Macdonald


The newspapers say

a slender girl with a long, blond ponytail
blonde ponytail held by a ribbon of pink yarn
and a ponytail hairdo tied with a pink ribbon
her light brown hair is pulled back in a simple ponytail and she is wearing a pink cotton dress

they are different girls, but are they different girls?



He says, “I call ponies the athletic counterpoint to the horse. The predominant hairstyle in females happens to be a ponytail. If I were a girl I would wear a ponytail pretty frequently. But that’s mostly for safety reasons.”




The newspapers say

she laughed so hard her ponytail shook
her dirty-blond ponytail swishing back and forth
she flipped her blond ponytail out of the way

but where is she going?



Sarah says, “I like wearing a ponytail cause it makes me feel bossy.”

Ellora says, “wearing a ponytail makes me feel girlish.”

Christina says, “how are you going to quote me about this?”



Science says long hair is attractive to men because it is a symbol of fertility. I have seen men watch me play with children in that mindless yet calculated way. I have seen desire written clear across their faces as I swing a toddler onto my hip or as they catch a smile meant for a five year old who just jumped from the swing for the first time. When I am feeling generous I can understand it, maybe. They see what I can give them. From peach pit to plum to mango to melon to baby. These hips are narrow, but they will bear just fine.




Call and Response

He said, “I have a ponytail fetish” and another he said, “that’s so obvious it’s not really even a fetish.”



Erica says you can’t wear a ponytail to work. I am confused. I have just come from a fluorescent-lit space. I wear a sweater though it is sticky and summer outside. This is called an office. Buns are okay, but ponytails, unless they are slicked back, can’t be worn. This is called unprofessional. Girls are supposed to know this.



Question and Answer

1. “I’ve never heard that”
2. “That’s weird, I don’t like that”
3. “I don’t like that either”
4. “Ponytails are hair so there’s this weird I can touch the back of your head thing going on”
5. “If they make you think of blowjobs you’re probably doing it wrong”



The young woman on his matchbook wore no ponytail, no collar, no clothes, and said, “Call Me.”






Back and Forth

“Someone once told me they were excited by the appearance of a hair tie on my arm because it made them think of blow jobs.”
“So should you wear ponytails?”
“Yeah I’m completely pro ponytail.”
“In what sense of the word pro?”
“Ponytails are good for both blowjob and non-blowjob circumstances.”



The Internet says that ponytails have been around as long as humans have. The blowjob wasn’t invented till 1948. Ten years later, the elastic loop fastener was patented. That’s a hair tie, a hair thing (“do you have one?”), and it’s actually true.



The Internet says “ponytail headaches” result when tightly pulled hair irritates the muscle system.

The Internet says it probably didn’t take a study in the journal Headache to tell you that loosening your ponytail relieves a ponytail ache. Researchers have found that this simple action decreased headache pain within 30 minutes, and, in some cases, instantly. Kinney makes a conscious effort to reposition her ponytail throughout the day.



Thirteen-year-old Kaytlen Lopan was charged with assault. Assisted by an eleven-year-old friend, Lopan used scissors to cut off several inches of hair from the head of a three-year-old girl. At the hearing Judge Scott Johansen offered to lighten the sentence.
“I will cut that [community service sentence] by 150 hours if you want to cut her hair right now.”
“Me, cut her hair?” the defendant’s mother asked.
“Right now. I’ll go get a pair of scissors and we’ll whack that ponytail off.”
The victim’s mother was in the courtroom and supported the penalty.
“Satisfied?” Judge Johansen asked her, after the defendant’s hair had been cut.
“No” she replied. Judge Johansen then directed the defendant’s mother to “take it clear up to the rubberband.”
Judge Johansen ordered the other girl involved to have her hair cut, but he allowed it to be done by a salon.



One day recently, as I watched my daughter and her friends at play with their Barbies…I noticed them trying each other’s doll wardrobes on the different Barbies. [Barbie’s ponytail comes in a variety of colors. –Ed.]
And the frightening thing was that instead of dressing and undressing the dolls, they simply switched heads! What does it all mean?
Mrs. Marjorie Lewis
Shaker Heights, Ohio

as published in The New York Times.



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