Face it, one of the most distinctive things about me for better or worse is my hair. Like everything else about myself that I wanted to control, fix, change - those stubborn follicles refused to become the long and flowing or naturally curly masterpieces I saw in magazines. At some point I decided it had to be distinctive, had to express something that I could not verbalize - as mad as that may seem. Go to any salon and you will find young girls clutching pictures ripped from the pages of People or Vogue hoping in vain that they will be transformed - and I don't just mean their hair - I mean they truly want to walk out the door two hours later with a narrower face...a foot more or less in height, longer lashes, strutting like Beyonce with new-found confidence. I want to cry out to them, "Your stylist is not a wizard!" but I know it would be to no avail. The stylist will sigh when they see these crumpled and hopeless aspirations pulled out of an eager hand, and may gently suggest that Rihanna's hair extensions might not be possible. Even when they agree that with Picasso-like creativity they can duplicate the look on the shivering 12 year old sitting before them, you know at the end of the exercise that same young girl will stare in the mirror in dismay and realize she is no different than when she walked in (only now her hair is too short, she knows it). And so I offer a glimpse at my own journey.
The Bowl Cut: When I was little, haircuts were courtesy of my mother, who has many talents - but cutting hair would not be one of them. In every picture tufts of uneven bangs mock me. She explained that while my sister was allowed to have long hair, I looked "cute" with it short. I did not share that sentiment and on more than one occasion was greeted by "hello, little boy".
The Perm Years: Few pictures remain from this dark period that coincided with high school which was unfortunate. For hours I would sit with that foul-smelling solution on my head in an effort to attain the effortless curly locks that would somehow make me beautiful. When I emerged, my mom would try to cheer me up by saying it would look better in a few days. It never did.
Fun with Colour: Name a colour and I have tried it - anything to escape my natural born colour, mouse-brown. This included several efforts to do it myself - only to be shipped to a salon for an emergency correction where the sighing stylist would strip the goth black from my head (that I was sure from the picture on the box was full of sunny highlights) and start again.
Hair Products - A Revolution: Hairspray, mousse, gel, styling foam...for women like me with poker-straight hair the volume solution had arrived. I could live with the stares and laughter, if it meant my hair would not be plastered to my head like Napoleon.
So if you ever wondered why I look this way, you will forgive me from offering to change at this late date. Like Popeye before me, "I am what I am".