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Motherly Side Plait

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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.

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Since mothers are often the object of a Death by Origin Story, this is also (infamously) known as the "Dead Anime Mom Hairstyle". note 

A Sub-Trope of Long Hair Is Feminine.

Compare Ojou Ringlets, Regal Ringlets, and Girlish Pigtails.

Contrast Braids of Action, Tomboyish Ponytail, and Prim and Proper Bun.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Anohana The Flower We Saw That Day, Jintan's mother Touko sports this hairstyle in numerous flashbacks. She was suffering from an unspecified illness and died prior to the events of the series, partially fueling Jintan's emotional issues since her death happened very soon after Menma's.
  • Mari "Monroe" Morino in Asteroid in Love ties most of her hair into a braid and lays it over her left shoulder. While she isn't a mother, she has a soft, gentle and nuturing personality such that Moe's report in Chapter 13.5 refers her as the "big sister" of the Earth Sciences Club.
  • 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. Her death was a major Cynicism Catalyst for her son Eren; since her role in the story draws similarities to Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, this has led anime fandom in general to nickname the hairstyle the "Dead Anime Mom Hairstyle".
  • 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 her 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 kaleid liner 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.
  • Food Wars!: By the second year Time Skip, Megumi Tadokoro has switched her twin braids for this hairstyle as a sign of her growth. Despite her still being a high-schooler, her specialty (focusing on being Comfort Food) is often compared to a mother's cooking, and other characters have said she'll make a good wife in the future.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Trisha Elric, the late mother of Edward and Alphonse, wore her hair this way. Since we only see her in flashbacks, her loose ponytail over her right shoulder plus apron combo helps to quickly and effectively establish her role in the story. She was a domestic and caring mother, and her death symbolizes the loss of all peace in her son's lives as they strove to bring her back.
  • 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.
  • 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 Penguindrum, wears a loose ponytail over her right shoulder. She's the Missing Mom of Kanba, Shōma, and Himari. Unsurprisingly, she turns out to be a Posthumous Character along with her husband, but she subverts the "nice and gentle" part since it turns out that she was a leader of a terrorist group.
  • 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.
  • A common fandom joke is to point out that pseudo-antagonistic Su-won from Yona of the Dawn has this hair style, despite being a martially-inclined conqueror king. Come to find out, he wears his hair just like his Ill Girl mother, Lady Yon-hi.

    Films — Animated 
  • Sina wears a loose waist-length ponytail over her left shoulder, fitting her role as the good mother of Moana.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Haunting of Bly Manor: Dani always wears her hair in a plait befitting her closeness with children and her role as a governess. Downplayed in that it usually stays behind her back, but it is often sideways.

    Video Games 
  • Lisa from Castlevania wore a loose ponytail over her right shoulder and was the late mother of Alucard.
  • Dragon Quest V: Bianca wears a braid over her right shoulder, and she is a compassionate, warm person (she went into a haunted mansion when she was a child to protect a kitten) and a nurturing mother to her children.
  • 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 in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Lewyn wears his hair this way in Generation 2. Fittingly, he's a stern Team Dad in that part of the game.
    • Mercedes from Fire Emblem: Three Houses sports this hairstyle, fitting with her personality as a kind, motherly girl who often tries to help her friends with their problems. She ditches it come the time-skip, however, having cut her hair much shorter.
  • Persephone from Hades wears her hair in a loosely bound ponytail over her shoulder, cementing her caring nature and her role as the main character Zagreus' birth mother.
  • 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.
  • The HMS Hood from Azur Lane styles her hair like this. Fittingly, she acts as the Team Mom of the Royal Navy, and dies in the prologue.
  • Annette is a subverted version of this in Resident Evil 2 (Remake). Her hair is in a ponytail over her shoulder, but she's quite cold and seemingly uncaring towards her daughter, Sherry, whom she scolds for not staying at home in the Zombie Apocalypse like she asked her to, even though Sherry states that it got too dangerous to stay home and she didn't pick up the phone when she tried calling her. Annette intinally writes Sherry off as a lost cause when she is infected with the G-Virus, but changes her mind after she pisses off Claire, who had been looking after Sherry in her place. When Annette is on her last breath after being heavily injured, she tells Sherry that she loves her and regrets not spending more time with her.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • Nayuki's mother Akiko from Kanon wears her hair in a braid that's draped over her shoulder. Naturally, she's very motherly, caring and kind, never questioning why Yuuichi keeps bringing strange girls home with him and treating them as though they're already part of the family.

    Webcomics 
  • Avela from Strays wore a braid over her right shoulder and was the late mother of Yuen.
  • Sleepless Domain reveals through a flashback that Heartful Punch's mom, Mitsuki, changed her hair from a ponytail to a side plait only after she was born.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • Weiss' mother Willow has this hairstyle in RWBY. It has an expository element in two ways: she switched from a Prim and Proper Bun to a messy sidetail after years of alcoholism and the hairstyle also signifies that she still has a maternal side despite her Parental Neglect. Weiss herself has the same hairstyle for a while, and Word of God is that her hairdo signifies that she's rebelling against her megalomaniacal father Jacques. She changes her hairstyle around the same time his corrupt and power-hungry behavior is exposed, no longer needing to show defiance to the man she finally defeated.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.

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