Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My Hair: A History

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".


15 comments:

  1. Naturally curly 'masterpieces' are highly overrated.

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    1. I need more money to test out the theory, but I'm pretty sure that bazillionaires like Halle don't have hair woes. Me on the other hand ... Picture this: grade 9 picture day, my mother has insisted on doing my hair. A lovely up do at the back, while jaunty sausage-like curls (and we're not talking breakfast sausages, I mean giant British bangers) haphazardly frame my little face. Only one word for that: unfortunate. I am still silently crying for my 14-year old self.

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    2. And I weep for you! (I personally believe you would even look beautiful with sausages circling your sweet face!)

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  2. There should be a twelve-step program with the sole purpose of accepting the natural properties and limitations of one's own hair. HA (Hair Acceptance) could become part of the elementary school curriculum, eliminating years of trauma... That, or we could all simply shave our heads.

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    1. I should add this would have saved me decades of painful and futile efforts!

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  3. Oh my god, you could have written that about me except mine was a pixie cut by Mrs. Fraine. How many times do you have to be called 'son' before your mother will let you grow it out, even if it is ugly. My lowest point was probably the bright orange, shaved into 2 'steps' up the back when I was going to Ireland to meet Eric's family. No wonder Granny Malloy never warmed up to me.

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    1. Dear Stacy, thanks to your comment I laughed all the way to my doctor's appointment (nothing serious!) and must say, Granny Malloy really missed out! (I too was called son more than once!)

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    2. Well, at least you two were assured that you looked cute in a pixie cut... Imagine being the person who was allowed to grow hers out - obviously in need of all the help I could get! Bad luck for us that we were born in the time of Twiggy, et al... :)

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    3. Dont speak to me you long-haired person you! :)

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  4. Curly or straight, I think almost all of our teen selves could benefit from a 12 step program. For me it was caught in the middle between straight and curly - more lumpy than anything. How different teen life would have been had the flat iron been invented. The perm the day before grade 8 school photos was only overshadowed by the flowing blouse with the large bow at the neck, stamped with pictures of horses heads. I've always been afraid of horses....

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    1. Ha Moira! I can so relate...particularly to the wardrobe - which is a whole other story!

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  5. So true for all of us. Sandra had many hair cuts which I thought looked great but she hated. I along with many mom's was not all that great with a pair of scissors.
    I had one friend at school who had very, very, dry hair. Someone told her to give it a treatment with olive oil. The only problem was they didn't tell her to rinse after the treatment. She came to school with grease sliding off the ends of her hair. I can still picture it. What we go through to try and be perfect. It doesn't work as no one is every perfect.

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    1. So true Gloria...so true. (And I know you remember me visiting with you wearing my perm victim bag!)

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