I got my hair cut on a week ago. It was my quarterly haircut, and I made the appointment in my usual fashion: call various salons an hour before I wanted the appointment and see if anyone had an opening. I got lucky this time; I only had to call three salons. Unfortunately, the salon that had the opening was the same salon where I got my last haircut-the haircut that led me to sob uncontrollably on the way home and reminded me again, when I got home, that a guy is not going to understand the pain of a bad haircut and will instead, do what he thinks is right, and say, in a soothing tone, I think your hair looks fine, while trying very hard to glance subtly at Ninja Warrior.
Try not to cry, my co-workers encouraged me after giving suggestions on what I should do with the frizzy mound on top of my scalp. A few minutes after assuring my co-workers that I would not cry this time, I sat in the chair at the salon telling Simouen that I hadn’t the faintest clue what I should do with my hair. I gave her my co-workers’ conflicting suggestions, rambled for about 20 minutes, admitted that I thought my face was fat, and finally smiled and said, Do what you think is best. You’re the expert.
So she did, and she spun me around in the chair and gushed about how much better my hair looked. I smiled and thanked her and agreed that yes, it is much better, thank you so much. I lied to Simouen.
I spent the evening on the couch (unrelated to the haircut) assuming the reason my husband hadn’t commented on my hair (still hasn’t, a week later), which was now much shorter than it had been when he say me 14 hours earlier, was because it was just that awful. I tried to put the haircut out of my mind, focusing instead on the cold I had that left me lying on the couch moaning I’m dying to anyone who looked at me.
The next morning I carefully washed my hair, carefully applied the mousse in a combing motion, carefully twisted strands of hair around my fingers, then looked in the mirror.
I hated what I saw. I didn’t cry, but I hated what I saw. It was crooked and framed my face oddly. Not much I could do about it, since I had to go to work. I chalked it up to another in a long string of bad haircuts and went about my morning routine. Then it hit me: the chances of all of my hairstylists in the last five years being incompetent and giving me bad cuts is a pretty small one. Maybe it’s not them. Maybe the woman with the Eurotrash mullet didn’t actually do the opposite of everything I told her. Maybe it’s me.
I mulled this over on the drive to work and concluded that if my face were less fat, then maybe I’d be happier with my hair. I thought about this in a critical way-not a criticizing way, just a critical one and tried to be as objective as possible, and I thought, yes, it is not the haircut’s fault.
I shared my epiphany with some coworkers who found it appalling. I unsuccessfully tried to explain that I wasn’t actually being self-deprecating, but they shook their heads and looked at me as though I were growing a tail. Then one of them asked, is it possible to ever be objective when it comes to our bodies?
Obviously the answer is no. We can’t. I think it’s nearly impossible to look in the mirror and see what a stranger on the street sees when looking at us, and even harder to look in the mirror and see what a loved one sees. But I think it is possible to look at ourselves and think: That part of me is fine. This part needs a little work. It’s not as bad as it could be, but I’ve got some work to do. These are aspects of myself that I can easily live with; those are some areas where I want to improve.
And that is how I made peace with five years of bad haircuts, that maybe weren’t actually bad to begin with.