Thursday, September 26, 2013

Keep it short

"You're only as good as your last haircut."

-- Fran Lebowitz

Self portrait 9-26-13

"A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life."

-- Coco Chanel

"Long hair tells men that you are all woman, or a real woman, or at the very least a girl. Short hair always makes them wonder. Short hair makes children ask each other -- usually at the school-yard gate, when parents are late -- 'Are you a boy or a girl?'

Short hair removes obvious femininity and replaces it with style ... Short hair makes you aware of subtraction as style ... the neat is suddenly preferable to the fussy. You eye the tweezers instead of the blusher. What else can you take away? You can't hide behind short hair ... you may look a little androgynous, a little unfinished, a little bare. You will look elegant, as short hair requires you to keep your weight slightly below acceptable levels.

Short hair makes others think you have good bones, determination, and an agenda. The shape of your skull is commented on, so are its contents. They can pick you out in a crowd, and you can be recognized from behind, which can be good or bad. But your face is no longer a flat screen surrounded by a curtain: the world sees you in three dimensions."

-- Joan Juliet Buck, Vogue, 1988

I got my hair cut.
It was getting a little shaggy, so I visited my awesome stylist Heather for some overdue maintenance.

I have worn my hair a dozen different ways, some more successful than others. Some, flat out hideous.

The worst, I think, was when my mother gave me a home perm. A very smelly, really curly home perm that turned my hair a brassy reddish color, and made me look a lot like child star Johnny Whitaker, who rocked his red afro as Tom Sawyer and in "Sigmund and the Seamonsters." (see photo, below, but imagine Johnny in a red gingham check blouse and you'll have a pretty accurate idea of what my sixth grade school picture looked like).

Johnny Whitaker as Tom Sawyer

For some reason, my mother thought curls were preferable to the poker-straight hair my three sisters and I were all born with. I always felt a little bit deficient whenever Mom or Grandma bemoaned my straight hair and dragged me to salon for a scalp-eye-nose-and-skin-burning, ammonia-scented permanent. There was always some vague promise that it'd just be a "body wave." But the end result was almost always a kinky, frizzy, embarrassing mess. I'd go home and condition the shit out of it all weekend long, hoping that it would "relax" (they also always promised me it would "relax") before walking the gauntlet into the viper pit called middle school Monday morning. 

Mom also cut our bangs when we were too little to know better and hide her scissors. She always cut them in a sort of curve to "frame our faces." Ugh. I know now that she did it to save time and money. Taking four girls to the hair salon is an expensive pain in the ass.

I've worn my hair long (briefly as a child, and then when I married my husband, because I thought it was what he wanted). I've gone with bangs and without. Permed and straight. Feathered. Colored. Pinned up and complicated in a chignon for my wedding, complete with little sausage curl tendrils (Ugh, again). Highlighted, for a day, but my husband said it made me look older, so I raced straight to Drug Mart for a box of Nice 'N Easy medium brown to undo the damage. I've grown it out for roles in plays. I've abused my hair with curling irons, flat irons and blow dryers and caustic chemicals.

But I feel like I look like my truest self when my hair is short. Really short. Too short to curl. Short enough to air dry. And straight. I am proud to wear my hair in its natural state, the way I was born, as nature intended.

After a haircut, I always feel better. Fresher. Life seems full of possibility and hope. 

I feel like me again.

Plus, it makes the shower drain and bathroom floor a lot easier to keep clean. 

Yeah, I have been mistaken for a boy. It happened a lot when I was a kid (it didn't help that I was Johnny Whitaker's doppelganger). It happened as recently as this summer. At Best Buy. My son and I walked in and the clerk was like, "Hi gentlemen, can I help you find something?" I was totally fine with it. Sam and I simply grinned at each other and said "Just looking, thanks."

When I donate blood, they always say, "I have your gender down as female. Is that correct?" (I am soooo tempted to stand up, look down my pants, and say "Yep. Sure looks like it.")

None of that matters.

Somewhere along the continuum, I realized, finally, that my hair is my hair. I have to wear it on my head. Nobody else's opinion means jack shit.