Submitted on 2012/03/14 at 10:38 am
Jessie, I wish I had the nerve to go to a stylist and just let them do whatever they thought would look good on me. I have never, ever been able to do that and have largely been saddled with the same cut for more than a decade. I did make the radical move to change my hair color to red, but I don’t like it, and I don’t know what else to do, and my stylist likes it, so I just keep listening to her.
And I realized there’s some hairy backstory to my laissez faire attitude towards hair care. I used to have long hair. I mean REALLY long hair. From the time I was about 13 until the time I was 27, my hair was down to my waist. And I almost never got it cut. Why would I? I didn’t need even ends to do a good French Braid, and hair stylists terrified me.
They terrified me because they terrified my mother. When my sister was born, she got her hair cut, and it went from waist length to earlobe perm. Now, I should note – I LOVED her hair like that. But she loathed it. And it seemed like every trip to the stylist was another nightmare for her. Then, somewhere in there, I think I got a bad cut, and that sealed it for me. I did not get haircuts ever.
Fast forward fourteen years. I loved my pregnancy hair. My GOD, hair that had always been too thin to work with became lustrously thick. It radiated hair-beauty. I never wanted it to go away. Only it did. As anyone who has ever carried a pregnancy for long enough knows, once the pregnancy hormones go away, so too goes the pregnancy hair. It left me ratty and tangled, and for the first time in many years, I turned myself over to a hair stylist.
Because I am me, I chose somewhere cheap.
And I sat in her chair, and the woman said, “Wow! You have such long hair, you could donate to Locks of Love and still have plenty left over.”
“By plenty, do you mean it would still be long?”
“Yeah!” She patted the bottoms of my shoulders.
I blame my Math deficiency for what happened next, and also my complete exhaustion, since Caroline never slept. At three months old, she was always bug-eyed and awake. The haircut was being conducted with her in my lap, and the more people turned on hairdryers, the more agitated she became. Although she normally went to everybody, she rejected the eleven or twelve off duty stylists who offered to hold her for me. So I was really paying more attention to her than the stylist.
Because there is no way to cut waist length hair ten inches shorter, give that length to a charity, and still leave the hair’s original owner with hair below the shoulderblades. Huh uh.
I went from this:
faster than I could tuck Caroline under my smock to try and feed her. (She rejected that. She had latching issues, and she hated having anything over her head. Oh the autism signposts were all there.)
That’s actually a later photo. You notice the baby isn’t any three months old there. I can’t find my favorite picture of me at that stage right now. Anyway, traumatized doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Horrified approaches it, but I think the word I’m looking for is gobsmacked. She sheared me. My hair, formerly waist-length, suddenly came to my chin.
My husband, who fell in love with my long hair, and who hates changes, liked this even less than I did. But I was so completely stunned, and Caroline so totally melting down, that I paid and left without a word of complaint. I still remember going into work the next day. Everybody stopped me. “Oh my God, you got your hair cut!” they all said. And I tried not to cry.
But here’s the thing. My coworkers, even the real jerks whose company I abhorred, liked my hair. It wasn’t just false “oh gee, it’ll grow and it looks OK honey” compliments. They RAVED about my hair. I couldn’t fathom why. I was so used to seeing myself with long hair that it was days and days before I really started to see it.
And when I finally did, I realized two things. First, it had an adorable little flip at the end, like maybe some of that pregnancy luster held on. And second, I LOVED IT. I grew it out again.
I gave it to locks of love again. My hair grows fast, and within nine months, I had it down to donation level. For three years, I grew my hair out and gave it to Locks of Love. It was so cool.
And then Sam came along. (Are you seeing a trend here? Insert baby, change hair.) Sam was a grabber, a hair puller, and an earring snatcher. For him, I had to stop wearing jewelry (not a habit I missed, except the earrings). For him, I had to stop growing my hair. And that posed a problem. It was one thing to keep my bangs the same length as my hair if I was growing it out to ultimately give the whole head to someone else. There were maybe two weeks where my bangs couldn’t be pushed behind my ears.
But when the scenario was changed and I couldn’t grow my hair anymore, I also had to cut it so that Sam wouldn’t reach it. Which meant that keeping the bangs down with the rest of the hair would have been a godawful pain.
So I had the bangs shaped. And that first bang cut was horrible. Remember, my philosophy was ‘pay little, expect less’, and I was rarely disappointed. But even with that bad cut, I had one more glorious surprise. My hair wasn’t just flippy now. It was outright curly. I don’t have my husband’s frowse of curls by any stretch, but my curls are real, and they are full of body.
And then one more thing happened. My friend Jennifer, when we worked in hell together, explained to me the concept of fuck-and-go-hair. That is to say, it’s hair that doesn’t really get mussed so you could pretty well fuck and go. And she and I used to joke about wanting fuck and go hair. And after Sam was born, after the curls came in, and after a particularly awful haircut, I woke up one morning, forgot to brush my hair, and staggered out to the car. Halfway to work, I realized what I’d forgotten and ran my fingers through my hair. And it didn’t look fantastic. But it passed. Because somewhere in there, I grew fuck and go hair.
So, there you have it. The reasons I am so brave about my hair:
1) I’m not picky.
2) It grows fast.
3) For the present, it’s fuck-and-go. This will not last, but I’m enjoying the hell out of it while it does.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.