03 August 2009

"Nobody wears their hair like that."

So, it's been five and a half weeks since I got the haircut that triggered a depressive rage and a dose self-loathing. I hated that haircut so much by the time I got home that I really thought I would have to get it cut again the very next day. Of course, my brief meltdown had very little to do with the cut itself, the visual was just a time portal to an old version of myself for whom I have very little tolerance, particularly when I see some of her characteristics cropping up in the present.

Much like it rained all but seven days of July, I wore my hair pulled back all but two days since June 25th. With the temperature finally reaching summer levels in the past couple weeks, the feel of hair on my neck would incite short bursts of self-directed curses over its length. I had endured the hair as much as I could; I started hunting for pictures so I wouldn't have the same communication problems with a hairdresser as last time.

Last night, I spent a ridiculously long stretch of time looking at over 1600 photos of Amanda Palmer online and then photoshopping the largest, best seven shots of her hair that I'd found for printing.

I didn't sleep well or much at all last night, but despite my exhaustion I was determined to get my hair cut today. With the potential for a brief post-cut meltdown (never at the shop and always self-directed), I knew the timing wasn't ideal, but I went armed with photos, attitude, and the willingness to say: STOP.

As I signed in at SuperCuts even though there was no one there but two hairdressers, the woman standing behind the counter asked me how I wanted my hair cut.

I handed her my printout and said, "Something like this."

She looked at it quizzically and handed it to the other hairdresser for a moment. Ooh, that's not promising. They discussed whether the photos were all of the same person or not as the first woman led me to a chair.

"They're all of the same person," I said. At least she has short hair, I thought to myself as she stood next to my chair. (At the last hair place I visited all the women had long straight hair, very much unlike mine.) She was also brunette and very pregnant, but I never mentioned the latter on the off chance I was mistaken.

"I can't really tell from these photos what's going on."

Disheartened, I said, "It's hard to find good photos."

The other hairdresser, an older dyed-blonde woman who looked a bit weathered, said, "It's stacked, isn't it?"

I said, "I think so. What do you mean by that exactly?"

"I'll get you a picture." The pregnant woman retrieved one of those haircut books salons have and started flipping through it.

The blonde said, "Like a Posh hair cut."

I looked towards her in the mirror nonplussed. Was fairly certain that wasn't what I was going for.

Nothing in the book looked quite like my pictures. The pregnant woman asked, "What is it about these photos that you like?"

Though I had written down "about chin length" and "shorter in the back," I couldn't really articulate what I liked beyond that. She was very patient but firm that she needed to see how I wanted the back to be cut. I can respect that.

"It's hard to tell how it'd look since they all have straight hair," I said, referring to the models in the hair styles book.

"She has straight hair," my hairdresser said, looking at my photos.

It's actually wavy and sometimes almost curly, crossed my mind but I didn't want to get into a debate over it. Ultimately, I pointed to a picture and said, "Let's try that."

"OK. It's going to be short."

"That's fine." Then to ameliorate the concern I sensed from her, I added, "I've had short hair before."

"So you're just like, 'Oh, it's short now.'"


She cut the back all to one length first and asked if I'd like it that way before proceeding to "stack it." Her "insurance policy" she said.

"Go ahead."

Two inch locks slid down the front of the black cape, falling to the floor when they reached the cliff of my knees. Then longer pieces. My head was tipped forward and she cut the back of my hair for what seemed like a long time.

I started to get nervous. How high up is she going? She knows I want the top to be longer right? I could say 'stop' but I'm in it now. It needs to be even. I looked up through the hair in front of my face to see her lift up a long section that would fall to the back. She didn't over-cut it, so I breathed easier as she moved to cutting the sides, her pregnant belly pressing up against my arms no matter how far I pulled them in.

"How's that?" she asked a few minutes later, holding a mirror behind me so I could also see the back.


"Is this going to drive you crazy?" she said pointing to a bit of hair curling outwards at my neck. "I could cut this back a bit more. It's just the way your hair curls. It's going to stick out."

I nodded and she trimmed an angle off the edges of the back. "You'll probably notice it again after a while."

I doubted it and said, "When the rest is all curly, it probably won't be that noticeable." My hair was still damp and quasi-straightened from being pulled back earlier in the day.

She looked at my pictures of Amanda Fucking Palmer's messy hair again and said, "I can make it like that for you," and gave my hair a vigorous tousle with both hands. For the first time, she gave me a playful grin.

All I could think to say was: "That's all right. I usually just let it air dry and do its own thing. The curls'll take care of that."

She smoothed it out again and then said, "Nobody wears their hair like that," which I found tremendously amusing given that the photos were right there on her counter.

C's new hair
About 45 minutes after the cut.
The curls will not be denied--although they'll look better tomorrow with less handling. Still ghoulish as ever from lack of sleep but so much happier with the cut. So much so that my shallowness is a little embarrassing. Oh, Vanity, you fickle mischief-maker.

A year ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 11: Up a tree


  1. A cute and sassy style - perfect for the summer!

  2. Thanks, Jenny! It is nice and cool. Reached up to squeeze out the excess water before stepping out of the shower today, and there was nothing to grab. :)

  3. I think the problem with a lot of salons is that they don't really get that someone might aspire to edginess and/or queerness. They think everyone wants an updated version of The Rachel. I'm so thankful for Rudy's in L.A., which is all about rock n roll haircuts and rock n roll prices ($25 plus tip!). So what am I saying here? Come to L.A. next time you need a haircut? Well, yes! But in the meantime it looks like you found a good stylist.

  4. Oh no, I picked a gay haircut? ;) Really hadn't crossed my mind. I just liked that it was messy, cool, and seemed easy to reckon with: wash & wear, and if it comes off a bit rock 'n' roll, all the better. My curls actually play against that though I think...

    Rudy's sounds awesome. Just haven't had it in me to blindly try salons here for $30-50 or more w/ no better results than SuperCuts, y'know?

    I will endeavor to remember not to get my haircut before the next time I hit LA. Thanks for the tip!