At the Root

My short-hair fears started when I was a small child. For some reason, even though I was adorable with long hair, I was, one day, taken to my mother’s hairdresser and my hair was cut short. Maybe I had headlice? Maybe I put gum in my hair? Maybe I am remembering all of these things from Judy Blume novels? Mom?

The hairdresser in question was named Helen. I do not think she reads this blog. She was middle aged thirty years ago, so she can’t hurt me now anyway. Helen was probably a fine hairdresser but she did not know how to cut curly hair, which was the kind of hair I had, even though you would not have known it because there was never enough left of it to curl when Helen was done with it.

Puberty attacked me at age 11 with a five inch height increase, size 9 feet and lots of pimples but no breasts. I desperately needed something to hide behind. Helen cut my hair into her version of a “pixie cut” a few days before my 6th grade photo was taken and I vowed never to return to her chair. The day our photos were taken, the boy I had an inexplicable (because he was teeny tiny) crush on told me I looked like a boy in a dress.

Right around that exact day, I began growing my hair out.

My hair grew and grew and grew and grew. I hardly ever had to get it cut because that is the beauty of a) curly hair and b) the ’90s. You can let the hair overgrow, wear a plaid shirt and combat boots and you are Teh Sexay. Actually regardless of decade, I don’t think messy, unkempt hair in a 20-something is ever out of style. I dyed it a lot. Bleached it. Eventually cut it all off when I started swimming and couldn’t fit it under a cap. But then grew it back. Etc.

But this past January is the first time I have gone to a haircutter and said, make it shorter. Make it into a short STYLE. Not just, take off 5 inches of overgrowth and leave me with shoulder-length hair, but take my shoulder-length hair and get it the hell off my shoulders. I am done with things on my shoulders.

Psychology essay topics include: Maybe I am done hiding, am finally comfortable within my skin. Maybe I feel too overwhelmed by life to have anything other than my family’s well being resting on my shoulders. Maybe now that I am an old grey mare rather than a ripe filly, my mane is not so relevant so I feel free to forsake traditional femininity in favour of practicality.

Or it could be that I only get a shower every other day and acres of hair is really hot and children are grabby little bastards.

I am certainly no less vain than ever. I have been annoyed and complaining about my ugly, mushroom-shaped hair for three weeks now, since Bad Cut Day. But when I went back to Original Janet today (who, once again, was all alone in her salon, reading a magazine – you wouldn’t THINK she would be good at her job, but she really is) and said, hi, you cut my hair in January and I want you to do it again and she said, OK but I’ll have to go quite short at the back to make the front look better I said, oh yeah, sure, do it. I didn’t even blink. When I left the salon and shook my head like a Charlie’s Angel, I felt nothing, no wind in my locks, no locks in my mouth, no nothing, just my head, shaking back and forth, more like a dog with a bone, actually, and that made me happy.

And so I am done with my short hair childhood trauma. Just in time to start torturing my own children.

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