One good way to show how sweet and caring a mother is is to depict her with her hair tied in a loose braid or ponytail and put on her shoulder. For some reason, this detail immediately tells the audience, "Hey, this mom has to be nice and gentle!"
This can be explained by the fact that mothers usually have less time to spend on their appearance than other women. Since the makers of a show probably don't want to make their characters ugly, one way to demonstrate motherhood 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. This may or may not come with an apron to further emphasize their motherhood. Since the hair is only tied up loosely, it creates a soft, relaxed, gentle appearance. Putting the hair over the shoulder allows you to see her hairstyle from the front, while also providing a slight element of Fashionable Asymmetry. Braiding the hair that way is also faster and easier than braiding it behind one's head, contributing to the low maintenance angle.
Since mothers are often the object of a Dark and Troubled Past, this is also infamously known as the "Dead Anime Mom Hairstyle". note
- Carla Yeager from Attack on Titan wore a loose ponytail over her right shoulder, fitting her role as a good mother to Eren and Mikasa. This, combined with Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, have led the fandom to nickname the hairstyle the "Dead Mom Side Pony."
- In Bakugan, Shiori Kazami wears a loose ponytail over her left shoulder while sick in bed. She is the mother of Shun and ends up dying (changed to comatose in the English dub).
- Handa Emi from Barakamon wears her black hair in a loose ponytail over her right shoulder. She is the overprotective mother of Seishu and happens to share her voice actress, Yoshino Takamori, with Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist and Carla Yeager from Attack on Titan.
- In Bleach, Ikumi Unagiya normally wears a loose ponytail for business purposes. However, as soon as he young son, Kaoru, comes looking for her, she puts her loose ponytail over her right shoulder, throws on a frilly apron and transforms from Ichigo's scary boss to affectionate, doting mother.
- As a part of her post-Time Skip Adrenaline Makeover, Anna Stephanie from Blue Comet SPT Layzner lets her dark brown hair down from its initial Tomboyish Ponytail and wears it over her right shoulder. She's not exactly a mother, but at this point of the series, she's shouldering lots of responsibilities as The Heart of La Résistance.
- In Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA, Sella wears her white hair in a loose ponytail over her left shoulder, complete with apron and fluffy slippers. She's Ilya's caretaker in Fate/stay night as well, but since the manga starts off in a much more normal domestic setting, she's ditched the hair-concealing uniform and looks like a standard anime mom, aside from the pseudo-albinism.
- Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist wore a loose ponytail over her right shoulder. She's the late mother of Edward and Alphonse.
- Kuramori from Haibane Renmei wore her dark brown hair in a loose ponytail over her left shoulder, fitting for her role as Nemu and Reki's Parental Substitute. She's also a Posthumous Character as she took her Day of Flight years ago.
- The bedridden mother of Amiko Itari from Jinzō Konchū Kabuto Borg VxV wears a loose braid over her right shoulder.
- Ursula from Little Witch Academia wears a loose ponytail over her right shoulder. It makes her look kind and approachable, suitable for her mentor role towards Akko.
- Chiemi Takakura from Mawaru-Penguindrum, wears a loose ponytail over her right shoulder. She's the mother of the Kanba, Shōma, and Himari.
- Ranma ½: Kasumi Tendo often wears a loose ponytail over her right shoulder, along with an apron. While she may only be the eldest daughter of the family, she handles the domestic duties of the Tendo household as the Team Mom. It becomes even more significant when it's revealed that she's filling in for their deceased mother.
- Akane Hyakuya in Seraph of the End wears a braid over her left shoulder, fitting her role as the Team Mom to the group of orphans. She's killed near the end of the first chapter.
- Ryouko Fueguchi from Tokyo Ghoul wore a loose ponytail over her left shoulder. Though a gentle pacifist, she proves to be a Mama Bear that sacrifices her life to give her daughter, Hinami, a chance at survival.
- In Tweeny Witches, Yoko wears a loose armpit-length ponytail over her right shoulder, fitting her role as the mother of Arusu.
- Lorrie Berlinetta from ViVid Strike! wears a loose ponytail over her right shoulder, though she did so even before she adopted Rinne. She also lacks the stay-at-home mom aspect associated with the hairstyle, being a rich fashion designer with a house full of maids.
- Jibanyan's former owner, Amy, wears a loose ponytail over her left shoulder as an adult in Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside. In the thirty years since Yo-Kai Watch, she's grown up and had kids.
- Sina wears a loose waist-length ponytail over her left shoulder, fitting her role as the good mother of Moana.
- Lisa from Castlevania wore a loose ponytail over her right shoulder and was the late mother of Alucard.
- Fire Emblem:
- Louise from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade wears a braid over her left shoulder. She took care of her husband's apprentice, Erk, from childhood and reminded them both that they had to do things other than study.
- Gender Inverted with Sanjay from Harvest Moon: A New Beginning. He wears a braid over his right shoulder, is fittingly Amir's sweet butler, and a potential bachelor if you play as a female.
- Natsuhi Ebata from School Days wears loose twin braids over her shoulders. She's very kind to her adoptive daughter (or rather, her own biological daughter whom she abandoned many years ago to Hayato Ashikaga before she married him), Inori, which further emphasizes this.
- Rielith in Steam Prison is the single mother of Merlot and wears her hair in a loose braid over her shoulder. One of the first things Cyrus notices is about her is her warm and gentle demeanor. She provides Cyrus with badly-needed shelter and support after Cyrus is exiled to the sanctuary district. In keeping with the trend in anime, she's also doomed.
- The "Dead Mom Hair" part is Played for Laughs in Anime America in their gateway anime episode when Hannah's avatar redesign comes with a Motherly Side Plait. Robyn and Tara immediately assume she's dying, with Tara pointing out several anime examples of mothers who wore the hairstyle and died, including Carla Yeager from Attack on Titan and Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Hannah counters that she doesn't even have children. Defied since Hannah is, of course, fine, but that doesn't stop Robyn from doing a memorial end-slate anyway to Hannah's annoyance.
- Lisa from Castlevania (2017) wears a thick braid over her left shoulder during her first scenes, which also establish her as a caring and pragmatic person who has enough warmth and courage to win over Dracula himself. In keeping with the trend in anime, she's also the late mother of Alucard, though her hair appears to have been cut short prior to her execution, possibly by her captors.