Until last week, the ChickieNob had exactly one haircut in her eight years on earth. It took place in May 2010. She has now had two.
We talked about it for a while before it happened. I would bring up the idea of a haircut, and she would wholeheartedly agree to it. And then an hour would pass, and she’d come back into the room crying about it. Or she’d come downstairs after bed to tell me that she couldn’t stop thinking about it. So we kept putting it off. Until I hit a wall and decided that it had to happen. That day.
So I picked her up after school and she told me that she hadn’t any homework, which I replied was lucky because then we had our afternoon free. And I wanted to fill it with a haircut. She started to suck in her breath so she could howl out all of her arguments against the haircut, but I gently told her that we were going for a trim; something small, barely a change. She agreed.
She was so scared that she held both my hands in her two hands while the woman washed her hair. She couldn’t keep her head tucked down because she had to watch the woman at all times in the mirror. But she got a lovely cut, an evening out of her tresses, and it now looks healthy. Snappy. Fun. Her hair bounces again like a puppy.
The next morning, when the salon opened, I went by myself to get my own trim. I too haven’t cut my hair since that day in May 2010. I’m not a huge fan of change, but I realized that I usually have a drastic cut. I go from hair at my waist to hair above my shoulders, and perhaps if I just had a trim to even things out, I would roll with it better. So I told her I also wanted a trim; something to take off the split ends so it looked healthier.
As I sat down to have my hair washed, she asked me if I wanted to also cover up the grey. This is a sensitive topic for me. On one hand, I am older now, and I believe in looking my age. I’m not ashamed to be in my late thirties and not in my early twenties. It’s just a fact; time has passed. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily love the grey in my hair. I don’t love looking at it when I look in the mirror. It is very different from the strange blond streak I have in my hair, mismatching all the brown around it. Back on the first hand, I don’t like the idea of putting dye in my hair. I don’t like the smell, don’t like the way it changes the texture of hair, would not be able to change shampoos in order to protect the colour. (I am really really particular about smells and at this point, I can’t switch shampoo or conditioner because having a different scent in my hair throws me off.) Back on the second hand, I wonder if I look like I don’t try (I mean, I don’t try, but do I also look as if I don’t try?). If I look dowdy. If everyone else is wondering why I walk around with that much grey in my hair.
And somewhere in the middle, Josh has told me that he finds my grey streak sexy.
So I shrugged and said that I’m thinking about it, but that I hadn’t decided what to do yet so I wasn’t going to colour it that day. I added that my husband liked it.
As she washed my hair, she proceeded to tell me that he’s lying. That no man actually likes grey hair. That it’s just something men say because they are too polite to tell their wives that they now look old and it’s unattractive. She told me stories about other women who heard the same thing from their husbands but chose to cover their grey anyway, and then their marriages heated up because now they really looked attractive and their husband’s were happy. As she talked, I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t start crying.
I had to sit there for the rest of the hair washing and then the haircut, which I asked her not to style so I could get going quickly. It was a decent cut. An inexpensive and easy one in the sense that it was not time consuming; close to home. I went home and called Josh to tell him what the hairdresser said, and he sighed, especially when I started crying.
“Melissa, who are you going to believe? A random stranger cutting your hair who has never met me, or your husband?”
It reminds me of how sweeping statements on the Internet can get under my skin. When someone loftily tells people they know better. They know the truth. They know what people are thinking, and they know what words really mean, and they know how they or you are perceived. And you read their statements and think, “well, that’s not true at all.” But it gets under your skin anyway and you start to wonder if maybe you have it all wrong. That is, until someone reminds you that no, they don’t know you. They only know themselves. And they either have a swollen ego to think they know what an entire group of people think, or no self-esteem unless they can convince you that they are correct.
I went upstairs and took a shower, washing her touch off my hair. I used my shampoo to cover up the smell of her shampoo, and then styled it so it looked the same as always, just a little bit shorter and a lot neater. It really was a good haircut.
It is odd that across cultures, we’ve chosen this one feature on our body to place so much emotional emphasis. I don’t worry about the wrinkles around my eyes or my posture, but I worry about what my hair conveys about me. Is it telling the story I want to tell? I worry about cutting it too short and not feeling like myself, or one day losing it all together. I worry about the colour and the texture and the length and the smell. I worry about the curl and the smoothness and the way it catches the light.
But mostly I just worry that it is the first place that people look at to judge a person.
And how will people judge me with this haircut? With this length? With this curl? With this grey?