Maybe I’m lazy; maybe I’m cheap, but I only get my hair cut once a year. I never intended to make this a steadfast pattern — it just happened. And it’s not that my hair resembles an untamed squirrel’s nest after said year – usually it grows out long and thick, naturally highlighted by the sun with a few covert strands of white and gray but unmanageable. When I start using a scrunchie (oh, no! fashion faux pas!) in order to pull up my hair into a ballerina bun or ponytail; or when I go bohemian and pluck a once bright, now faded, bandanna to hold back my chestnut waves, I know I’ve reached my breaking point.
Usually, my once-a-year haircut falls around October, after a summer of stretching out scrunchies, breaking headbands, saturating my hair with sun, surf and chlorine and enduring split ends and sweaty strands glued to my cheeks. After many personal consultations about my hair’s future, I’ll decide to wear it up all summer and chop it off come fall.
Without question or complaint, my husband B generously forks over the dough. After a year, he probably enjoys the idea of greeting a “new” wife. Even my mom will send an unsolicited check for hair rejuvenation. I make an appointment at a nice salon and relish getting my hair washed with lush products I’d never purchase and pull off my glasses, awaiting my transformation. Usually, I request a chin-length bob, and the hairdresser will grill me several times to make sure I won’t leap out of my chair in a panic over my lost locks.
Two months before I gave birth to my son J, who undoubtedly would pull hair and did, I voluntarily allowed a hairdresser to chop off 13 inches of hair. Never before had I taken such extreme measures with my hair except when I streaked it with purple mascara. The salon participated in the Locks for Love program which uses about three ponytails worth in each wig, and I loved the idea of my hair helping out a child with cancer or another detrimental disease.
The next year I visited a stylist who interrogated me several times before ascertaining that I definitely wanted a drastic haircut. An extreme cut awarded me freedom and possibilities to be a new me again. Liberated from excessive hair, I felt as daring as Madonna!
I also looked forward to another person scrubbing my hair and savored the unintentional head massage with sweet-smelling, luscious potions. Since all the split and ragged ends were snipped, my hair appeared silkier and bouncier. It alluringly swept across my neck, and a few salon staffers requested to touch my hair which seemed strangely flattering.
Managing my hair has always been difficult. When I was a child, I hated when my mom would try to comb out my hair after washing it. Pulling out the tangles tortured me, so she kept my hair short which looked ugly and boyish. In the sixth grade, all my friends started using a curling iron, but I feared burning myself and managed the iron like I manage sports equipment – like I’m going to throttle someone rather than win the game.
Due to my thick hair, I’ve broken more than one plastic headband as well as snapping apart and stretching out elastic bands. Forget the 1980s neon-colored, paint-spattered banana clips — my hair required heavier artillery like metal headbands that pinch and create headaches mistaken for migraines. My hair took too long to curl, so my curling iron endured no damage from grasping still wet strands or bubbling over from sticky hair spray. I was late to my own wedding because I insisted on growing out my hair and having the hairdresser twirl my hair into flowing Renaissance ringlets. You wouldn’t believe how many stop signs my sister ran that morning…
I wish I could French braid my hair – failsafe, elegant, sloppy tresses in order. When you release your hair, it looks wavy and romantic. For years, I bribed, pleaded and whined to my sister and college friends to braid my hair for me.
With all the strife my hair causes, it’s a wonder I don’t visit the salon more often. My friend L imparted this wisdom to me that people see you and your hair every day, and it defines who you are, so you should splurge on a quality haircut. Maybe it’s time to change my hair pattern and treat my hair and myself like we deserve.
This is an original post for JerseyMomsBlog.