Created By: Lyendith on May 1, 2012 Last Edited By: Lyendith on October 7, 2012
Troped

Motherly Side Plait

Gentle mothers wear their plait over their shoulder

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Mostly an anime trope: one good way to show how sweet and caring a mother is, is to depict her with her hair tied in a loose plait and put on her shoulder. For some reason, this detail immediately tells the audience "hey, this mom has to be a nice and gentle person!".

This can be explained by the fact moms have less time to spend on their appearance. Since the makers of a show probably don't want to make their characters ugly, one way to demonstrate mom-hood is to give her a low-maintenance hairstyle. Housewives (most likely to be the mothers of young children) also need a hairstyle that's going to stay out of the way when they're doing housework and cleaning up. May or may not come with an apron to further emphasize.

A subtrope of Long Hair Is Feminine, and more generally Expository Hairstyle.

Contrast Braids of Action, Tomboyish Ponytail and Tomboyish Sidetails.

Examples:

Anime and Manga:

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • May 1, 2012
    katiek
    I am really wanting to say that both Caroline Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie and Olivia Walton on The Waltons did this when they wore their nightgowns, but my mind may be playing tricks on me.
  • May 1, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime and Manga

    edit: we don't have that one? I could've sworn I'd seen it before.
  • May 1, 2012
    Lyendith
    I saw nothing of the kind in the hair tropes at least...
  • May 1, 2012
    MiinU
    ^I was referring to Matron Apron. I could've sworn I'd seen it before.
  • May 1, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ It's the other way around: Apron Matron.
  • May 2, 2012
    MiinU
    ^Hn. Not only did I have it backwards, I was completely mistaken about the trope. I assumed it was about the use of an apron as a way to portray a female character as motherly (i.e. Team Mom, parental sibling, etc.)
  • May 7, 2012
    Lyendith
    Could anyone confirm the LHOTP example? I'm not exactly a huge fan >__<
  • May 8, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ I looked up "Karen Grassle" (the actress who played Caroline Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie) on Google Images. None of her pictures show her with a side plait. All of them show her with her hair in a bun behind her head.

    The Google Images link

  • May 8, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the Little House books a proper young girl wears her hair in pigtails and a proper married adult woman wears hers in a bun, which she lets down into a plait (side or otherwise) when in bed at night.
  • May 14, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • I believe Pema, the mother of all the airbenders in Legend Of Korra wears her hair this way.
  • May 15, 2012
    Lyendith
    After a little research, it doesn't seem so... maybe in a specific scene?
  • June 13, 2012
    surgoshan
    This is probably too specific and wouldn't include enough moms. Perhaps a more general "Matron Hair Style"? I think it could be argued that young women tend to wear their hair long and flowing, both as a sign of health and wealth, and also because men just love to smell that hair.

    Moms tend to be a little more practical and wear their hair bound in some way, if they don't cut it shorter altogether, because that keeps it from getting in the way or getting grabbed by inquisitive pudgy fingers.

    At least, that's my experience.

    The trope as it stands, I think, would indicate someone who's more motherly (hence the bound, practical hair), but for whom the creators want to indicate more youth (hence the long, flowing hair).
  • June 22, 2012
    Lyendith
    That's interesting... although I don't think this necessarily indicates ore youth (I found one middle-aged example just recently). But admittedly, they are mostly Hot Moms...

    Then again, I wonder what would be a more general trope... by making the "on the shoulder" part optional?
  • June 22, 2012
    surgoshan
    What counts as a motherly hairstyle is going to be pretty cultural, I think. That said, if you're looking for a general "This person has mom hair" trope, I'd discard some of the specific requirements (like the side plait) and give some examples of times and places that had a specific style of hair generally associated with moms (like the side plait).

    This article makes a good point: moms have less time to spend on their appearance. Since the makers of a show probably don't want to make their characters ugly, one way to demonstrate mom-hood is to give her a low-maintenance hairstyle. I think the side-plait probably fills the bill there.

    It also gives another example. The American Mom Bob. Chin-length, minimum styling.
  • July 2, 2012
    Lyendith
    The article is interesting... now that I think about it, the side-plait as a mom hair seems specific to Japanese works, but I may be wrong. I also never saw it associated with a mean mom yet.

    I borrowed some of your explanation for the description, we can widen it if needed.
  • August 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • August 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • August 18, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Kanon's Akiko Minase also wears her hair in such a fashion.
  • August 18, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    It might do to mention that part of this association is that housewives (most likely to be the mothers of young children) need a hairstyle that's going to stay out of the way when they're doing housework and cleaning up after messy children. Just another good reason for the character to have a low-maintenance hairdo.
  • August 31, 2012
    Lyendith
    ^^^^ I don't really see how this is a sister trope to Prim And Proper Bun? It rather contrasts it if anything...
  • August 31, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Because both are a case of specific hairstyles telegraphing specific personalities.

    I hadn't actually noticed this trend. In fact the only character I can think of that I've come across lately who wears a side braid regularly is Sea Patrol's Lieutenant Kate McGregor who is a strong and capable career military officer and is not a mother.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ls7dbwd9ofn9f7ses3fw3wyw