Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Only Hair...

I am obsessed with hair. I know, it’s frivolous, superficial, shallow, and all those other words created to make me feel bad. But, I didn’t choose this, I was born with it. I was giving my Thumbelina a trim (which wasn’t easy with those safety scissors) at age six. I could braid before I was allowed to cross the street by myself. All of my Barbies were naked, but had killer hairdos. In high school I was convinced an ex-boyfriend came back to me because I had put blonde streaks in my hair. Hair was power.

Thanks to Dorothy Hamill and Farrah Fawcett, the nation finally sat up and took notice of hair. Dorothy’s cut was not an option for me, because I was convinced that with short hair, I would be mistaken for a boy. Plus, if I kept my hair long I could trim it myself. To say I didn’t trust anyone with my hair would be an understatement.

But, I fell in love with Rene Russo’s hair in The Thomas Crown Affair. I quickly made an appointment to get my hair cut before I chickened out. I showed up with my little photo ripped from a magazine, ready to believe that magic was going to happen. And, it would have to be magic because Rene Russo had thick, naturally curly, auburn-colored hair. My hair was blonde, stick-straight, and super fine. When I refer to my New Jersey roots, I am referring to my hair. I had to work hard to get my hair big enough for the standards of my state. It took time, and many appliances, and many products. The woman who cut my hair swore I would have the right volume to pull the look off.

When she was finished, and I saw the final cut, my heart hit the floor. In my mind I looked more like Pierce Brosnan than Renee Russo. That’s when my chant was born. It’s only hair, it's only hair. I managed to get home, where I shut myself in my bedroom. That was the beginning of three straight days of crying. You would have thought I had my limbs cut off the way I was acting. I know my wiring isn’t right, but changing my blood type would be easier than changing my obsession with my hair. It was only after I tried a dozen times to get my hair big again, that I felt it was enough like me to go back to work. My friends were great, giving me pep talks about how quickly it would grow back. And, it did.

And, like childbirth, the memory of the experience faded, and many, many years later I got another haircut-- this week. I’m not sure how the communication between me and the hair stylist broke down, because I have replayed it in my mind over and over again. Somehow, "I don’t want the sides cut because I am growing them out to match the back length" means cut the back to match the sides. Well, my hair is now shorter than it’s ever been. No amount of time or product can make it look big. I am trying to be mature. I am trying to make peace with this drowned-rat look. And now the chant, which hasn’t been necessary in a very long time--it’s only hair, it’s only hair. I wonder if Samson used the same chant…

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