Monday, May 25, 2009

Bad Hair Days

Every woman has a bad hair story. Or two or three. My expectations for good hair days were squelched at a young age. I have very thin, fine hair. It was very blond when I was young. Nearly white in the summers. The difference between real blonds and summer blondes is that when they get older real blondes stay blonde, roots and everything. Summer blondes need help, like Sun In, in the winter. I am a summer blonde. And my hair is so fine, that if it were to grow out, I could put it all in a pony tail the diameter of a pencil, or less. I also have a couple of cowlicks (think about the origin of that word…like the reason your hair is so messy is because a cow came along and gave you two licks). They come together in a terrible tangle spot above the nape of my neck. When I was very young, with hair long enough to put in curlers before church, my mother would have the unpleasant task of detangling my hair. There was a lot of screaming involved. Her Avon orders always included extra combs because there were often comb teeth tragedies resulting from my detangling. I was young when my mother decided a pixie cut would eliminate the problem. Mostly my hair was pretty short through grade school, until I rebelled (and could take care of my own detangling) and wanted to grow it out to look more like the pretty girls in Seventeen Magazine.

My sister, on the other hand, had nice long hair with a little wave to it. I was envious. But the worst time was when we went to Hawaii. I think I was about in third grade. In preparation for the trip my mom had taken me to get the pixie cut cleaned up and when the hair dresser finished up and spun me around in the chair so I could see in the mirror tears flowed out of my eyes. I was raised to express gratitude no matter what so I nodded when the hairdresser asked if I liked it, but as soon as I got in the car I sobbed. It seemed like I sobbed for three days. I was embarrassed to go out in public and I was sure that people in Hawaii would mistake me for a brother instead of a sister. My mother assured me that there was no way I would be mistaken for a boy since my swimsuit had ruffles on it (I still remember the suits my sister and I got. They were two piece, blue and white, tie on top and a little bit of a skirt with the bottom piece. I thought they were stunning. Until I got my hair cut. I was sure that, with my flat chest and boy’s haircut that I would be mistaken for a cross dresser). But when in Hawaii, we were having so much fun and seeing such interesting things that I had forgotten about my questionable looks. Until Hanalei. We three kids were out in the surf, singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” (because he lived by the Sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Hanalei) when a big group of teenagers came bounding through. The leader of the group, a tan blond toothpaste model looking boy, said to me, in a voice so all the others could hear “How’s it going, young man?” And they all laughed. It took me about 35 years to get my hair cut really short again. And I think I’m still traumatized.

Then, when I was in high school, the popular look was curly, curly hair (if you didn’t have naturally beautiful long straight hair). I went in for a permanent that I paid for with my own hard earned savings. I had never had more than a home perm before but my mother knew from giving me those that my hair took the perm solution very rapidly because it was so fine. She told the beautician this when she dropped me off. The beautician got the perm in and then got on a long phone call. I could feel the solution burning my scalp but, other than trying to get the woman’s attention with pleading eyes, I didn’t say anything. When she finally came to take it out, as she was washing it out I could see a little bit of startle in her eyes. Still she didn’t say anything. She took a long time doing stuff with it before she spun me around. It was hideous. Fried. I looked like I had put my finger in a light socket. She asked me how I liked it and I said it was fine. Then when I got home Mom looked at me, put me in the car and drove me back down where she made them do their best to correct the problem. It was only partially successful. I had enough self esteem issues in High School without this complication. My expectations for my hair have been pretty low since.

When Andy was in elementary school and playing on a soccer team, I got what I thought was a pretty decent haircut, considering it was my hair. The next day, as I was cheering Andy along from the sidelines, the mother of one of his good friends, and a woman I considered to have quite a bit of natural class, said to me “Oh I love your hair. It’s got that wonderful messed up look that’s so in.” She was serious. I was devastated.

Being a woman means that you have bad hair stories. I don’t think there’s any way around it. The women whose wavy hair I admire say they always wanted straight hair. Those like me, with straight hair, always wish for curls. My friends who lost their hair through cancer treatment just wanted hair. Loosing a good hairdresser feels somewhat worse than fighting with a good friend. So, if you are suffering from a bad haircut (no names will be mentioned here) just remember, at least you were born a girl and you don’t have to worry about going bald. It will grow back, and as my Mom said, though all of the three events mentioned above “at least it will grow back.” I know. That didn’t help me either. At the time.

No comments: