Thursday, April 19, 2012

Complete Hair-acy

They say that a woman's hair is her glory. Well, I don't know about all that, but it is one of the most important parts of being a woman. How you care for and deal with your hair says a lot about you and your style or personality. My hair is unusually thick, naturally wavy and unruly most of the time, so I don't often just let it dry naturally. It explodes into a big hair afro which looks like a nest ready for some mother bird to lay her eggs in. I usually give it a quick blow dry and resort to straightening it every time I wash my hair. Thankfully, this is only twice a week because the air is so dry here that doing it more often would lead to breakage. I grew up as a toe-headed blonde and although I have changed my hair color many times over the years, I have returned to my roots (so to speak) and have decided that dying my hair blonde is so much more natural than allowing the gray to take over my head. The style I am most comfortable with is an easy to care for, one length, long bob. I can pull it back into a pony-tail and not have to mess with it too much. I say all this to set the stage for my story.
When I first came to China in 2003, I had no fear of getting my haircut. Ignorance was bliss until my first experience at a countryside salon where I was sheered like a sheep in spring, much to the shock of my Chinese students who couldn't cover up the fact that they were both horrified and embarrassed about the haircut I received. I dubbed it the "Chemo-Barbie" look. Five years later when I returned to live long-term in China, I vowed never to get my lovely locks cut in China again. I was determined to wait 3 years and only cut it again when I returned home to America for a visit. After 2 years of growing my very thick hair and looking like a complete hippy, my American friend, Natalie convinced me to go to the place where she had her hair done. I resisted at first, terrified that I would have another scalping experience, but after a few more months of coaxing, I decided to take the plunge. Natalie went with me and held my hand as 2 young hairstylist work on my in synchronized fashion, each taking one side of my head. I could only close my eyes and pray that when I opened them again, I wouldn't have my former "chemo-barbie" look.
Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice job they did. I was all too happy to pay the $6.00 and be on my way. Since that time I have only had my hair cut twice, each time at that same place and each time holding my breath recalling my first unpleasant experience. Both times have been fine...until today. Last week I colored my layer free, long pony-tail styled hair and felt confident that when I went to the salon today, the stylists would do as well as they had done on the two previous occasions. I walked into the salon, told them exactly what I wanted, they shook shook their heads, smiled and assured me that they understood...and proceeded to do exactly what they thought would look better on me! Not at all what I wanted! Apparently when I said, "I want you to give me a tiny trim, thin it out, and I don't want layers," it meant "Make me look like an 80's Malibu Barbie!" For the love of God! How is it that those two things are the same? I know I said it very clearly, but after he took the first big chuck out of my hair and I realize that this first cut would be the measuring stick by which all the other cuts would be gauged, there was nothing I could really do about it, except resign myself to the inevitable dissatisfaction of paying for a haircut that I despised!
Walking to the place where I parked my bike was (for me) like the walk of shame. As if I'm not obvious enough as a foreigner, my hair looked like the second story of my tall body that had taken on a life of it's own. You know it's bad when the puff that is your hair is flipped up at the ends and sprayed so heavily that even the wind from the bike ride home won't mess it up. In my head I was screaming, "Hair-acy! Hair-acy" It was ridiculous! So here I am, kicking myself for letting my need for manageable hair override my better judgement about getting my hair cut in China. I know it's just hair and the layers will grow back. At least he didn't cut it all off, so I think I can still get most of it into a ponytail~and I still have a straightener. Good thing it's only another 7 months 'til I get home!