Thursday, February 14, 2008

Not Without My Hair

In the natural habitat of women, there are certain ideals. A single-digit clothing size, stylish purses, big diamond rings...let's face it ladies: these are some of the things we use as a basis of comparison out in the wild. We all know its true. And as makeover shows and reality modeling competitions will attest, the holy grail of femininity is long hair.

At some point in a woman's life, she sees a shampoo commercial and instantly aches for long, glorious locks of hair that swoosh when she walks and sends a message to the universe that says, "I am woman, see me flat-iron." Long hair is sexuality, long hair is glamorous, long hair is...never going to happen for me.

I have always been a member of the short hair club. As a child, my mother would cut my hair into styles that she insists now were "very becoming." I suspect now that she was getting her style advice from a pet grooming magazine. My elementary school pictures are a slide show of pity: curly in some spots, wavy in others, and always a big cowlick in the front. My solution was to grow it long, and I tried so many times. I brushed it 100 times a night, used the special shampoo, and patiently persevered through the awkward stages when I tried to act like I meant for it to look that way. But it never looked good, and eventually I had to accept that I just look better with short hair, so I tried to make the most of it.

But oh how I envied those girls with long hair. People always think that short hair is so easy, but I wanted the simplicity of putting my hair in a ponytail instead of having to invest in various types of goop and sprays to keep my hair under control. What you save in drying time with short hair, you lose in logistics.

So you can imagine that I held a little resentment towards those long-locked girls who identified themselves by their hair. Inevitably every week I would see some television show about makeovers, when girls would cry and moan about having their hair cut, and I would think, "get over it, you whiner." But inside I thought, "one down, 50 million to go. If I can't have long hair, NO ONE CAN."

Then one day I realized I was slowing making the transition to the dark side. I was home with my baby and didn't have many opportunities for haircuts anyway, so it kind of started to happen on its own.

Over time, I started to really enjoy having "long hair" (which for me, means shoulder-length). I could get it into a ponytail if I really tried, and a collection of barrettes and headbands had started to appear in the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was nodding in understanding at the crying girls on TV, brushing my lucious locks and vowing never to cut my hair.

And then I innocently went in for a trim. I wanted bangs, nothing major. I sat confidently with my stylist and chatted about nothing in particular. Then my neck started to feel very naked. I reached back to feel my hair and was gone. There had been a gross miscommunication. I panicked, and tried to calm down. As she excitedly gave me the mirror to check out the back, my heart sank. All of my work had gone down the drain, and I hadn't even gotten to say goodbye. I couldn't fault her; she was so pleased with her work and I knew this was my old haircut I had always had. It looked okay, it just wasn't what I expected.

I was numb. I played it off like it was fine and went to my car to cry. I returned to my office and received comfort from my friends who assured me it looked cute. I cried to my husband as he stood there helplessly and tried to tell me it wasn't that bad. I appreciated my one honest friend who told me, "it kind of looks cute."

And that's when I realized that I turned into That Girl. I had mocked them, I had scorned them, and then I had joined them. I spent two days of my life mourning my hair, never seeing the irony because when it happens to you, its never ironic.

To be honest, now I am glad its gone. Having long hair was fun, but having short hair is me. While it takes longer in the mornings and I still miss having a ponytail on the weekends, I like not blending in with the crowd. I don't think I will try to grow my hair out again, but I can confide to the long-haired girls: I get it.


EDP said...

I can so relate to this! We've all had that moment when we realize that there is way too much hair on the salon floor, and that our stylist is STILL CUTTING. On the other hand, less hair puts more focus on your lovely face and ripped arms.

Sghoul said...

HF, I am so glad to hear you say that about your hair. I use you as an example often of the kind of person who has their look figured out.

Some people change and try to be trendy, and to me they simply look out of place. They get some fancy trendy belt or dye their hair...and it doesn't look right.

You do. Even when you change something, it still fits. I actually envy that you are able to do that.

So if you are finally getting as comfortable on the inside are you look on the outside, I can only say: BULLY!