Back in March, I started aching to shave my head. My growing collection of curly hair accoutrements (silicone-free shampoo, conditioner and gels, smooth towels, satin pillowcases, a blow-dryer. diffuser, duckbill clips, eight maids a’milking) were a messy burden. I dreaded waking up early to fuss with my hair, and it felt stupid waiting hours for my gelled, clipped up hair to air-dry— looking lousy around my boyfriend so I could look fancy for the outside world.
But having spent years growing that hair, I wasn’t ready to part with it. In April, I asked my mom to mail me my favorite hair book (which has become rare, apparently), and the distraction worked long enough to see me through my little sister’s wedding.
I had spent years believing that once my hair was long enough to pin up, all the hassle would be worthwhile. Not so. While my hair sometimes looked pretty, even beautiful to me, I found myself increasingly bothered by having to handle, wash or powder it. More than anything, I resented spending so much lifetime primping and so little on the people and things that matter most to me.
On May 31, I got my long hair cut off. I spent the next week experimenting with my new bangs and feeling like the poor man’s Amelie. The cut still required accoutrements galore and much-dreaded early rising.
I gave that haircut seven days of fair shake before marching to a new stylist with a new look in mind:
You can imagine how unhappy the stylist was when I showed up with a picture of Estelle Black. No, perhaps you can’t; he pointed out that she was black (I should have said “That’s Ms. Black”) and I am not, told me several times that he dislikes giving women short haircuts, crossed himself (!!!), and finished the haircut by saying “There’s your little black girl haircut! You go, girl!”
Normally, I take time during a haircut to chatter with my stylist about my preferences; generous points in front of my ears, a point at the nape, bangs that can be parted on either side, etc. This time, I spent half the haircut biting my tongue and the other half wondering why a middle-aged, seemingly gay man would give me such a hard time about liking a black woman’s hair. Stubble on the side/curls on top isn’t race-specific, is it? Her texture doesn’t look so different from mine, only heavily styled up top.
Before we parted ways, the stylist conceded “It DOES look smart on you.”
Almost two weeks later, I come bearing photos:
Not a bad hairstyle, but it’s still long enough to look dirty and to require styling every morning; two strikes. Until I saw these photos, I hadn’t realized how long it is on top— no wonder it still takes so long to dry. Once you’ve been shorn, hair of any length feels like a horrible imposition. I’d get this modified to a basic pixie cut, but I’d hate to pay for THREE haircuts in the space of three weeks. There are clippers in my bathroom… … hmm….
While the camera’s out:
Dress — Target, $5 clearance (2009)
Belt — thrifted, no-name
This dress has a gathered elastic empire waistband. Not my cup o’ tea. Hence the belt. The dress also has double-straps, not visible bra straps.
So! How’s YOUR hair?