My hair is like my personality; it’s wild, stubborn, has its own way of expressing emotion and attitude. It’s curly and goes every which way, no matter what I do, no matter what I say. It fights against the orderly and sane, springing forth from my head like a snakes on a MF**’ing plane, gone insane. I’ve fought against the curls, straightened and pulled into ponytails, shaved it half off and tried every cut imaginable, except a proper mohawk (there is still time yet for that…)
Through it all, I’ve met a host of hairdressers, stylists, self-proclaimed curly hair experts; women and men of all manner and attitude regarding curly hair. Some recommended the semi-permanent Japanese straightening, singing the praises of stick-straight, compliant hair that lays nicely, no fuss, no attitude. They wanted me to feel comfortable, look fantastic (I look absolutely FREAKY when my hair is straightened, by the way) and wouldn’t have to deal with the daily drama of the curl. I have nothing but love for these artists and mention them as a part of my Curly Hair Journey to Acceptance and Love. They played a part and helped me to discover what I really wanted from my hair, my life and my right to be an individual and express myself as myself and not blindly follow the trend, whatever it may be.
I did eventually find a few stylists who had curly hair and completely understood the difficulties of such a blended blessing and curse. They gave me the great cut that allowed my curls to be curly, yet without trying to control them. Allowing them to lead the way and providing a cut that compliments the seemingly random ways and will of my hair. I have taken scissors to my hair, an electric razor without the guard (who needs that?!) and created Velcro Head when I shaved the sides of my head. It certainly helped the mushroom-cap style (a la Roseanne Roseannadanna on SNL – we miss you so much, Gilda!) I was rocking, but it didn’t help me accept my curls.
People tend to think of hairstylists/artists of cut, color and style typically only when a special occasion is coming up or they need a change in their life. I seek them out when I need to establish a sense of control when everything else is spinning towards madness all around. Once in the chair, these good souls take a tired, trampled-on individual whose shine has been dulled, their spark is barely alive and their colors are fading to gray. Their spirits are worn down, their eyes are pools of sadness, in complete opposition to the forced smile they offer as a beautiful lie, when asked how they are. Somehow these angels on earth bring the life and energy back, through craft and intention and a knowing that needs no explanation. They cut, they listen, they color, they listen; they say very little but what they say is organically grown, locally sourced food for the soul. Their touch is light and comforting; their eyes, full of care, compassion and understanding. They aren’t just cutting your hair; they are cutting away the hurt, the old you, the parts that you want to leave behind when you start off on your new journey, even if that journey takes you back to your old life. You are no longer the person who lived that old life and as such, you will change direction, adjust the sails and set course for a new life, a new way of living, of being true to yourself.
A cut is not just a cut. A color is not just a color. It’s not all about appearances, even though it plays a part. It’s about finding safe harbor in a world that is often dark and scary; it’s about those whose calling is ABSOLUTELY FREAKING ESSENTIAL, especially to those of us who can’t make the magic on our own, using fabric scissors or electric shavers or whatever desperation leads us to use on our poor, defenseless hair.
The next time you go somewhere to get a haircut, whether it’s a barbershop, an elite salon at your country club or the stylist your late mom went to and brought you along when you were little, please acknowledge the artist that creates such a wonderful place for you! Tell them how much their craft means to you, how much THEY mean to you. They need it to hear it and we need to tell them.
So, to all you good souls out there who bring the magic and make the vision a reality, thank you! Thank you for not giving up on your calling and thank you for putting up with people like me who make absolute shit-shows of our hair and come to you seeking a miracle. A miracle you deliver.
I love you all and you rock!