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The Haircut

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?

29 comments

1 A.M.S. { 02.11.13 at 9:10 am }

I actually kind of like my grey. I started getting these really bright, shiny strands of silver hair in my early twenties, all in the same spot just above my left eye. Events of the past seven years have increased the number and spread them a little more randomly, but most of them are still concentrated just above my left eye. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping to have a silver streak like Polgara in the David Eddings novels. :) Plus, when I get the itch to henna my hair, they shine like copper pennies through the darker brown…free highlights!

I joke about hating to get older and hating my grey hair, but I sort of take pride in it. I know how I got those grey hairs and they are badges of my survival. The wrinkles that are starting to form around my eyes? They just show how much I’ve laughed and smiled and spent so much time having fun in the sun. As for getting older…well, I figure as long as I don’t ACT my age I’m still ok.

And, that said, now I’m gonna take Olivia Moonpie to the children’s museum so we can dress up in costumes and play bongo drums on the stage together. And, if she’ll let me, I might drive the fire truck. :P

(How funny. My last haircut was back in 2009…until last Monday when I got almost 24″ chopped off! Must have been something in the air to trigger the haircut bug amongst us salonophobes. Why do they never believe me when I tell them I don’t own a hair dryer and I have no idea how to “round brush” my hair)

2 Heather { 02.11.13 at 9:28 am }

Now that I have MORE grey hair, not just a few strands here and there, I like it more. My husband has never weighed in on the matter. It’s just not something we typically talk about.
However, I find myself taking things personally from…well… a lot of people. Strangers, friends, etc. However, my husband always points out when it comes from a store clerk: They are there to get you to spend as much money as possible.
So, I’ll just say, shame on her. What a crappy way to try and get you to upgrade your trim to a full on coloring. Also? Who has time to keep up with a dye job? Not this gal for one.

3 Mary { 02.11.13 at 10:18 am }

Mel, I LOVE your hair!! And I hate that she said
that to you because you are so beautiful, without even trying. I’ll admit,
I’m really weepy and hormonal today, but this post has me in tears. I used to be terrified of getting my hair cut, just like the ChickieNob and I still only cut it when I absolutely have to. Josh is right. You shouldn’t believe her over him. (((Hugs))))

4 Chickenpig { 02.11.13 at 10:19 am }

It must be something in the air. I just got my hair cut for the first time since sometime in 2008. :) I also said no to the hair dye.

5 Sharon { 02.11.13 at 10:36 am }

Your husband is a peach. I hate my grays, and my husband doesn’t like them either. I refused to color at all during my pregnancy–yes, I know there are safe ways to do so, but I was paranoid and over-careful–and he was very glad when I made my first post-delivery trip to the salon for color. :-)

6 Ana { 02.11.13 at 10:45 am }

Wow. What a horrible thing to say to someone, all in the name of getting a few extra bucks out of you! Doesn’t she know that the way to a woman’s pocketbook is actually flattery? I would never go there again. I’m glad you had the sense to actually ask Josh about it, rather than keeping that inside (like I would do). I haven’t colored my greys yet, they are a smattering…but my hair is jet black & people have definitely commented. My husband hasn’t said a word either way about it. I would never want him to color HID already-greying hair. I like the idea of henna-ing it for coppery highlights, though!

7 loribeth { 02.11.13 at 11:12 am }

I held out for a long time on colouring my hair… I started highlighting about 10 years ago & colouring with highlights maybe 3-4 years ago? Both times at the prompting/nagging of my hairdresser. :p My hairdresser actually sat there pouting/glaring at me until I agreed to let her colour my hair — she’s married to one of dh’s childhood friends so I let her talk me into it — and I probably would have eventually asked her myself — but I still kind of resent the pressure. Of course, it’s more money and more tip money for them. I only get it done 2-3 times a year (just before I go home to see my mom, lol). Aesthetic factors totally aside — it’s damned expensive — how do women who get it done every few weeks afford it?? I have a fairly short cut & need it trimmed every six weeks or so or else it drives me nuts, & that’s expensive enough, lol.

I don’t MIND the grey (much). I just think my hair looks nicer with some colour & (especially) some highlighting (of the golden vs the silver sort). ; ) My aunt (whom I resemble more & more as I get older) has gorgeous silver hair. If my hair could be like that, I might not mind… it’s the getting there, the in-between, that’s hard to deal with.

My sister has not coloured her hair in several years (much to my mother’s dismay, lol). She’s actually much greyer than I am (& she’s my younger sister — consolation?? lol). She also doesn’t cut it very often. I think if she cut it and kept it neater, the grey wouldn’t be quite so noticeable.

8 nonsequiturchica { 02.11.13 at 11:18 am }

I’ll admit….I dye my hair every 5-6 weeks. Otherwise I have skunk patches and they look awful. I started getting gray hair when I was 6 (yes, 6) and I remember being bored in high school and pulling grays out in class (ewww).

Now I have my stylist use an ammonia-free dye which makes me feel a little better about the chemicals I’m putting on my hair. But I think that at age 34, I’m too young to have as much gray as I have in my hair.

9 Shelby { 02.11.13 at 1:23 pm }

What. A. Bee-yotch. Wow! No one needs a buck so badly as to be that snarky! (OK, maybe some people do, but they can’t possibly feel good about it unless they’re a…bee-yotch!) I can’t believe she said that to you!

When it comes to grey hair, I am the girl who makes everyone feel better about themselves. So, allow me to make everyone here feel better about themselves! I started going grey at 15. Yup. I was a sophomore in high school and my English teacher pointed it out to me. I have always been precocious in that way, but it’s never been an admirable precociousness (high FSH comes to mind). Anyhow, I really think that if I had started going grey right now, I might not have been so pro-dying, but being grey as a teenager always seemed unnatural. So, there’s not been a moment since the discovery of my first grey when I haven’t dyed my hair. Now everyone assumes I am a natural redhead (I have the coloring), when in fact, I am a brunette. Actually, I really am mostly grey now.

I hate that I feel I must dye my hair (and the chemicals and the hiding the grey during pregnancy as I stop dying my hair then), but I love the transformation it always promises. Perhaps in a few years I will let is go free and natural! (but…probably not)

10 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 02.11.13 at 1:27 pm }

I had the same hairstylist from the age of 8 until I was in my 20s. She became something of a second mother/older sister type to me, and she comes to holiday functions at my parents house, and we still keep in close contact. So naturally, it’s really hard for me to find a new stylist. It’s been a decade or more since she was my regular stylist (she lives in my hometown, so I still occasionally get a cut from her when I’m there), and I can’t say I’ve found someone to even come close to filling her shoes. It’s hard, because, like you, I see hair as more than just this thing on my head– it says a lot about you, how you see yourself, how you want the world to see you. And in spite of this fact, that I think my hair should “say something” to the world, I don’t want it to *look* as though I want my hair to say something. I want it to look nice without looking fussy, sort of like the hair equivalent of someone who puts on makeup in order to look like she doesn’t wear makeup (if that makes sense).

Anyhow, that stylist was totally out of line. You say no once, and that should be enough. Hair is a really personal thing. I’ve had a spot on the tip-top of my head with several grey hairs, and I have since I was 19. I never really bothered thinking about what to do with the grey, because I colored my hair all the time, just for the fun of it. When I finally stopped a few years back, I got comments all the time about how “natural” my new, darker dye-job was… um, that’s because it’s NOT a dye job. I was totally surprised that my hair had become as dark as it is, and along with that, I was surprised at how many more greys I have and how much they stand out now to me. I don’t want to go back to coloring my hair, because it’s a pain to keep up with, and I like my natural so-brown-it’s-almost-black hair color. I don’t know if I’ll change my mind if they start seriously multiplying, but for now, allowing the bits of grey to peek through suits my personal aesthetic sense of looking tidy without looking overdone. It’ll do for now.

11 Tiara { 02.11.13 at 1:39 pm }

How awful & presumptuous of that woman to make such assumptions…& hurtful. We do place so much emotional emphasis on our hair.

2 days before I miscarried, I had my hair cut. A part of me believed I lost my baby because I cut my hair. When I got pregnant again, even tho I needed one, I refused to cut my hair. Even after she was born, I was so scared that if I did, something awful would happen. I eventually did get my hair cut & now regularly go to the salon but there’s still a part of me that fears I’m tempting fate by having my hair even trimmed.

12 Pepper { 02.11.13 at 2:01 pm }

I love to get my hair done and I recently colored the gray out, but only because my friend did it as a trade for babysitting. :)

I do get what you mean about random statements that should be meaningless getting under your skin. 3 years ago I was at a wedding rehearsal sitting with a woman I did not know. She asked if I had children. I said I didn’t and didn’t really want them, entirely because I wanted to end that line of conversation. I was, at that moment, waiting for the miscarriage that was coming to end the ectopic pregnancy that was the result of my first round of IVF. She did not know this and I did not want to tell her. In an attempt to bond with me, I’m sure, she said she understood, not everyone wants kids, and then launched into a story about a friend who was in the midst of divorce proceedings because she couldn’t get pregnant. And then she said, flippantly, “I guess I just believe that if you can’t get pregnant on your own, you’re not meant to have kids.”

She had NO IDEA the state I was in and was making conversation with a woman who she thought was childless by choice. And yet…

This woman since married a friend of my husband and we see her occasionally. I want to like her because she seems like a cool person. But I can never forget that statement. Ever.

13 May { 02.11.13 at 4:21 pm }

When I got my first few silver hairs, my husband was all excited, because he thought a silver streak would look SO COOL and TOTALLY HOT. So there.

I have wildly curly hair, and I spent my entire teens and early twenties fighting with hairdressers who wanted to straighten it/smooth it/thin it/streak it/bleach it. After spending my childhood fighting with family and teachers who thought it was a mess and I hadn’t brushed it properly and never understood that it FOUGHT BACK and pinged hairclips across the room. And then I decided, the only person who may approach with scissors is said husband, who trims the bottom inch off whenever it gets ragged and starts eating combs. Because as silly as it is to give a damn what some hairdresser who’s trying to get me to spend more money thinks, I don’t want to fight about it any more, ever again, with anyone, because my hair is, well, it’s the only visible sign of my cultural and ethnic identity, my Jewish heritage, and my African American heritage. And I ain’t straightening THAT.

14 GeekChic { 02.11.13 at 4:32 pm }

I started going grey at 18 and don’t pay much attention to it. I cut my hair every 2 weeks because I wear it in a buzz cut and have since I served in the military – my husband cuts it for me now and has for most of our marriage. He likes cutting my hair (or so he says… ;) ).

I haven’t been to a women’s salon in ages… since before I entered the service. Before my husband started cutting my hair I went to barber shops because they didn’t give me crap about how short I liked my hair.

15 a { 02.11.13 at 5:27 pm }

This is why it’s important to find a good stylist…even if you only visit every few years. So, when they say something stupid, you can, as someone who has built a relationship, put them straight.

My husband says I should dye my hair, but I tell him I’m not willing to make the lifelong financial commitment. He thinks it’s just a whim thing – something to change things up and give him a thrill. I say if I start, I can’t stop without getting a drastic haircut or looking like a fool, so I’m not starting. It’s not that he minds my gray (he’d better not, because he has about 100 brown hairs left on his mostly white and gray head), he’d just like to be sleeping with a different woman once in a while. :) However, I recently switched the part to the other side of my head, which really exposes my giant gray streak…and I kind of like it.

If your husband says he likes your gray, then you should probably believe him. He’s the one that looks at you every day, so I would guess if he has a complaint, he’d probably find a way to let you know.

16 Rob { 02.11.13 at 8:42 pm }

There is a myth that does the rounds of hairdresser’s circles. It’s similar to the same myth about bartenders.

It goes something like this….

“Hairdressers are really good psychologists because they listen to people all day.”

Trust me, it’s not true. I went to hairschool, and the most common trait shared by hairdressers is an overwhelming emphasis on appearance when judging people. I’m not saying all hairdressers are like that, but so many are.

Trust your husband, but most of all, get in touch with, and learn to trust your own instincts the most.

17 Sara { 02.11.13 at 8:52 pm }

Sounds like a horrible trip to the salon, despite the good haircut. I’m glad that Josh was there with the right things to say, anyway.

My mom was completely gray by age 45, and my dad was almost completely bald by age 45. I figure I have to welcome the gray, given the alternative.

18 Mali { 02.11.13 at 8:55 pm }

If the greys don’t bother you, or your husband, then that’s fantastic. I wish I could be like you. Like some of the others commenting here, I come from a family that greys young, and my first grey hairs appeared in my 20s. (Funny how we always remember who pointed them out to us too.) Wasn’t till my mid-30s that I started dyeing my hair, when I felt it was unavoidable. I decided I was too young to be grey. I still feel that way now. I wonder if I will still feel that way when I’m 60!

And yet at the same time I hate the culture of beauty, of youth, that puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way. I hate it even as I touch up my roots, and plan another visit to my hairdresser.

It is just like the internet remarks. I know that I find simple statements from people upset me, even when I know they don’t mean to. I’m sure it’s reciprocal in some way. I wish I could let them fly by. Maybe one day I’ll be able – probably the same day I feel I’m ready to go grey!

19 Justine { 02.11.13 at 9:14 pm }

I love your grey. And I have a very hard time getting my hair cut, too. I suspect that people judge me all the time now because my hair won’t do anything normal any more, but well … I’m not really normal, either.

20 panamahat { 02.11.13 at 9:14 pm }

I’m 42 and completely grey. Have started going grey since 18, started colouring my hair at 20, stopped colouring my hair at 34 and never looked back. My husband loves it, I love it, I get compliments everywhere I go, all over the world. Once in Hong Kong an old male shopkeeper asked me if I was DH’s mother. Over there you don’t show your grey hair unless you are ancient. We laughed and laughed, I thought it was hysterical. I clearly do not look as though I am twenty years older than my husband, the dude just wasn’t looking past my hair colour because of his culture. Whatever. Easier said than done, I know, but if you are happy with your choices then you won’t be so much affected by how other people judge them- that’s their stuff. I’m sure you look gorgeous, and hair isn’t the be all and end all of a person anyway, it’s just hair! Please don’t let the turkeys get you down!!

21 Lori Lavender Luz { 02.11.13 at 10:22 pm }

I secretly covet your hair, the curl of it.

And I’m a fan of your gray streak. It goes with you. A woman prematurely wise (I hope that sounds the way I mean it.)

You should believe Josh.

22 Amy { 02.11.13 at 10:46 pm }

I don’t like the gray in my hair, so I cover it up. It’s a sad reminder to me that six years have passed between the young, vibrant, brunette 33-year old me (the one who, one year into marriage, totally believed we’d have a baby right away) and the now nearly 39-year old me (the one with a long battle infertility battle, dead twins and a now scary and weary-making rainbow pregnancy my reality). I thought I wouldn’t turn gray until I was a mother. That didn’t turn out to be true. I even have a couple of gray pubes, which is horrifying and elder-making (to me), and shameful. I don’t/can’t cover those up, but I doubt my RE and OB and MFM have minded. Still…

23 TasIVFer { 02.11.13 at 11:09 pm }

Why do we let these things, these random comments we know aren’t true, get under out skin?

There have been comments from people on my blog who don’t understand about ovum donation that really have gotten under my skin. I let them eat at me and give them more presence in my brain than comments from people who are intelligent, supportive, or funny. It’s wrong.

And just to weigh in the grey hair debate, I think it is a much underrated hair colour. I think it’s lovely and sparkly.

24 Anna { 02.12.13 at 5:49 am }

Please do not let that woman near your hair again, regardless of the cut. Being near a person with so little empathy is never going to make anybody feel good. You have lovely hair, you are also a lovely person with a lovely husband – there has to be a nicer hairdresser to match.

Having said that, I feel like a sort of outcast every time I step inside a hairdressers. I don’t wear makeup or heels, I don’t enjoy the music, I don’t want to buy products or have my hair dyed, I say ‘no’ a lot. And most of all, I don’t want my hair straightened! Yet they will start doing it literally behind my back.

My husband is 50% grey and feels very sensitive about it. I love it. It looks sexy because it is him, it also looks kind of tousled, natural and textured, which the dyed version never does. I encourage him to leave it, hopefully one day he will believe me. x

25 Amy { 02.12.13 at 1:18 pm }

I’m in the process of letting my hair go grey. my friends think its great, and I think it will look good when it all grows out. David isn’t thrilled with the idea, but he’s going along with it because he knows how much I dislike getting it colored every month.
if for no other reason….don’t get it colored because when you want to stop its a big project. I think its great that Josh likes your grey hair! I hope david will like mine when its all grown out.

26 Elizabeth { 02.12.13 at 1:20 pm }

Your Josh rocks.

Also: a friend of mine who spent some time in Uganda told me the teens there sang a song that included the line, “I’m putting safety pins in my hair for you!”

So yes, this spans many cultural worlds :-)

27 Kelley { 02.12.13 at 5:31 pm }

I like my grey hairs. They’re concentrated in a streak in my bangs on the right side. Reminds me of the X-Men character Rogue. Rogue was always one of my favourites :).

28 Battynurse { 02.13.13 at 10:21 am }

I understand trying to up sell, create bigger sales but to me what she was saying to you was rude and out of line. Good customer service doesn’t make your customers want to cry.
We all have our own feelings about aging and its not fair to project those feelings on others.

29 Meim { 02.21.13 at 12:30 pm }

I agree whole-heartedly with Battynurse. What awful customer service!

Two things about coloring your hair. First, it is nearly impossible to actually color your hair the exact same color that grows naturally. This is why the goal is always to “blend” the grey. Secondly, grey hair is very porous and hard to cover. Color fades quickly (no matter what products you use) and just subjects you to more time in the stylist chair. It costs a small fortune to keep it up, and can really damage your hair. It takes a higher level of developer to cover grey, which drys out the healthy hair. Bottom line, it’s not really worth it if you are on the fence about it to begin with.

When I was in cosmetology school all of my instructors always taught that our first priority was to make your clients FEEL good. You are much more likely to build a clientele when your clients leave feeling like a million bucks!

I also feel that I need to add that your natural hair is beautiful! I am not kidding when I tell you that I took a picture of your FB profile pic to my stylist once to get the same cut. I love how you manage your curl so well, and I love what I interpret from your style. To me, your hair says that you are happy with yourself – it is soft and feminine and not overly processed. I love that it looks like you spend just the right amount of time styling it. Obviously concerned that it looks clean and “taken care of”, but that you value your natural beauty enough not to mess with it too much. (which just enhances that natural beauty) I really really like it.

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