Is It Just Hair?

Haircuts. I hate haircuts. Every step of the process – making the appointment, talking to the stylist, washing it afterwards – is rotten. Yet my ends like to split and tie themselves into knots, so I endure the scissors and consequent Haircut Blues.

Before I schedule an appointment, I have to decide if I want it to be with the last person to tame my locks or with someone knew. Devil I know versus Devil Who Might Do Better. Once I have made my choice, it’s on to the type of haircut I will request.

Do I want something new? Just a trim? When it comes to my curls, there are two distinct camps: those who like my hair longer and those who like it shorter. I’ve been told, “Jen, you don’t know how it looks, so you can’t know what looks best” just often enough to never quite trust my own judgment. The conflicting perspectives along with my own self-doubt cause internal chaos.

Next up: trying to communicate with the stylist. They are always very nice and try their best, but how does a blind person relay her wants? I relate to my tresses in a way distinct from the visual aesthetics of the hairdresser. Words never quite work. Pointing isn’t an option. Blind faith? Pretty much.

There are a few things unique to me and my head. Reconstructive surgery has made the top sensitive to pressure of any type. Random head shaving (not by choice) has left me with distinctive types of hair with different properties such as curl quality. Scarring has resulted in some weird thin areas. So, not only is my inner emotional typography complicated, but my head is literally the same.

Of course my personal preferences do not simplify this muddle. I refuse to use anything in my hair that you can’t rinse out before leaving the shower. My tendency is to wash my hair, brush it, and go without further thought. Thus, my style must work in a zero maintenance situation.

Having communicated what I could and leaving my destiny in the stylists hands, it’s time for the actual haircut and yet another thorny area – the conversation. While listening to the snip, snip, I am suppose to engage in prolonged small talk with a near stranger who knows next to nothing about me. The simple question, “So, what do you do?” leads to explanations of chronic illness. Even mentioning this blog, with its unusual title, results in necessary clarification. Salon chair chatter is not easy when you exist outside of the reality most occupy. Loud music might be disorienting, but it’s also my salvation.

When the cut is done, I have to judge it by touch. Should it feel “wrong” to me, I need to find the right words to elucidate the problem. If I haven’t been able to convey my wishes by then, what are the chances the right verbiage will magically appear in my mind? Infinitesimal.

Finally, I pay the long-suffering stylist and go home to wash the fragrance of salon products out of my hair to prevent sneezing. I do my usual wash, condition, towel dry, and brush, then leave it alone.

Hopefully I like the results and usually, I don’t. In fact, I have a Post Cut Policy. I am not allowed to form a final opinion until four days have passed. Not only does this give me time to adjust, but also it gives my hair time to calm down. At the sight of scissors, my hair seemingly shrinks back into my head. After a few days, it comes out from hiding and I suddenly discover there is more length than I originally thought. This is the literal truth. I’d swear on a stack of…something.

In case you couldn’t guess, I had my hair cut last week and am now in a Haircut Funk. Soldiers are dying in foreign lands, children are fighting cancer, thousands of Mexicans are living in shelters because of Sunday’s earthquake and yet I am depressed over hair. It’s just HAIR. But, my curls…..

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

3 thoughts on “Is It Just Hair?

  1. In all the times I’ve seen you Jen, I’ve never noticed anything wrong with your hair. Of course, I’m a stereotypical guy and tend not pay attention to such things, but you’ve always looked fine to me.

    My hair cutting algorithm is simple. I tell them to keep it as is but shorten it a uniform length.

  2. Hey Steve,
    Thanks for the implied compliment. It’s not that it looks bad. It’s that it doesn’t feel right to me. How it feels to me directly translates into how I think it looks.

    Haircut algorithm? Now I know you are 100% geek. Never heard anyone refer to it in those terms.

  3. I _ALSO_ have an algorithm for when to get it cut. If I can stick a tuft of hair into my ear, and another tuft into my eye, then it’s time to get it cut. 🙂

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