the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Wednesday Writing Assignment

Once I asked a perceptive friend, vain for her own lovely, long, red locks, what the big deal is with hair. She replied that hair is a person’s crown, that it’s the feature other people notice most easily. We’ve all heard it: “She’s the tall one with the long brown hair…the curly red hair…the shoulder-length blond hair…He’s the balding guy….”

Please share a brief history of your own hair. I’ll go first:

I have a lot of hair. It’s brown, curly, unruly, and terribly thick. My hairdresser, highlighting this monstrosity, awarded me a distinction: “You have far more hair than any of my other clients.” She has a lot of clients.

Lest you think I’m bragging, I will share the travails of carrying around such a mane. It dries out terribly if I wash it more than once a week—twice a week, tops--but this is rather fortunate in the end, as it takes forever to rinse out all the necessary conditioner and, left to its own devices, will air-dry over the course of hours. This moisture-holding tendency has been problematic for me, especially during freezing 9-month New England winters. I can’t let it grow past shoulder length, or it becomes so heavy that my neck actually hurts, especially when it’s wet. No one could cut it right, leaving me with a triangle-shaped head or a poofy, round, loose afro.

Right after college, weary of my high-maintenance locks, I had the mane buzz-cut maybe an inch long (done stylishly, of course). What freedom! Two-minute showers! Instant drying! No fussing with frizz! Less neck pain! After a year of this luxurious liberty, I realized that most everyone assumed I was a lesbian on account of my short hair, which really wasn’t fair*. I grew it out again.

Thankfully, my current hairdresser knows how to cut thick curls. She even taught me the proper techniques and products (round brush, Redken’s “Smooth Down”, and some pommade) to blow-dry it without frizz, saving me from the deep winter wet-hair cold.

We should all have a Diane.

*Nothing wrong with being a lesbian, unless you aren’t one.


Blogger Ann said...

My hair's almost the opposite of kStyle's: so straight it won't hold a curl, approximately as flat as a skull cap. The strands themselves are thin, but I have a lot of them. It's dark blonde/light brown. When the light hits it in the right way, it looks gold.

Started out as a kid with a bowl cut; finally grew out the sides and bangs so it was all one length. Permed it twice; each time, the curls relaxed after exactly two weeks. Grew it out until it reached the middle of my back. Cut it progressively shorter. After college, it was shoulder-length. Dabbled with highlights.

About a year ago, in a fit of haircut-restlessness exacerbated by hair-in-eyes frustration, I chopped it off to about two inches all around. It looked a bit like chicken feathers, and, for whatever reason, I just loved it. Instead of laying flat, it stuck out all over. Insanely easy to maintain. It didn't really make me look pretty--in fact, it probably made me look a bit...odd--but I didn't care. I felt that, finally, I looked like me.

But my boyfriend hated it--hated it--and suddenly I was stuck between a haircut I loved or having my significant other of almost eight years find me attractive, no compromise. So now I'm growing it back out some, and to tell you the truth, I resent it, some days more than others. And I'm more than a little pissed that he won't just say, "If that's really what you want, then it's fine with me." I mean, isn't love about wanting your partner to be happy rather than pleasing you aesthetically against her preferences? (And PS, the jerk refuses to take my thoughts into consideration when cutting his own hair.) (PS #2. He isn't really a jerk at all, in fact he's quite wonderful; he's just selfish about this particular issue--well, and the tattoo issue, but that's another story--and I love him dearly regardless. We all have flaws, right? And if it got unbearable, I wouldn't hesitate to cut my hair short again despite him.)

Occasionally, I think it'd be nice to have long(ish) hair, so I could "do something" with it. But then I snap back to reality: I've never "done something" with it before; I'm too cheap to spend the money on hair-care products and too lazy to spend the time on styling; I don't want to always be worrying about whether the goop is holding. And I really do hate hair flying into my eyes if it isn't securely clipped back.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric here.

I feel a little out of place in this discussion, as I just have normal boring boy-hair. Short and very dark brown (or light black), and it hangs just the one way and lends itself well to a normal basic ten-dollar haircut, though I pay $25 because I like getting to make an appointment rather than show up at the barber's and wait for two hours.

When I was in high school, though, I wanted my hair to do something different, so I tried putting mousse in it. This let me poof it up a bit more, making it look like Wavy Man-Hair instead of Regular Boy-Hair, but it was a lot of work and ended up feeling stiff.

These days I put a little gel in it in the mornings, so it doesn't just lie all over the place. And I learned from "Queer Eye" how to put gel in correctly, so it doesn't look uneven and crunchy. Thanks, guys.

Basically I spent no more than three minutes a day even thinking about my hair, unless it's a special occasion and I keep checking the mirror to make sure it looks Just So. Karen's is the only hair I've seen of y'all, and until her posting today, I was jealous of it. I think if I had Karen's hair, I'd play with it all the time, run my hands through it, twirl it around my fingers. (In this way, it would also make for an exellent Neurotic Activity, something to do when I get nervous.) What she wrote this morning made me glad, though, that this is one thing that I get to think less about than the womenfolk do.

But alas, it's just Boy-Hair for me. Blah.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric again.

Question for Ann: When you say "the tattoo issue," do you mean that he wants one and you don't want him to get one, or vice versa? I ask because I have a friend in a similar situation with her girlfriend.

1:28 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

It's really interesting and fun to read about how you two see your own hair.

(btw, Eric, I can't play with my hair, neurotically or otherwise, or it frizzes. Also, I fear getting my hand tangled in there forever, lost to the jungly depths. I'd need someone with a machete to free my limb, but by then gangrene would set in from lack of blood flow due to the hand's elevation above my heart.

Instead, I have stubby fingernails and chomped cuticles, visciously chewed. And you should see my pens....)

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, again:

Just thought of something else: in the morning, the only thing I have to do to style my hair is run my hands through it to make it go up in front, and then pat it down on the sides. I don't need any apparati at all. That's a plus, I guess.

That's very sad to me, that you can't play with your hair. I sympathize on the fingernail front, though. My other nervous gesture is to play with the ring I wear on my right hand--frankly, the nervous-gesture thing is the best reason to be wearing a ring at all.

I am reminded of something Steve Martin once said, and here I paraphrase a bit: "I could never be a woman. I'd just stay home and play with my breasts all day."

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, again:

That's very sad to me, that you can't play with your hair. I sympathize on the fingernail front, though. My other nervous gesture is to play with the ring I wear on my right hand--frankly, the nervous-gesture thing is the best reason to be wearing a ring at all.

I am reminded of something Steve Martin once said, and here I paraphrase a bit: "I could never be a woman. I'd just stay home and play with my breasts all day."

3:30 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Basically, I want a tattoo. He doesn't want me to get one. Early on in our relationship I promised I wouldn't, and now I console myself with thinking, Well, if we ever break up, at least I can get a tattoo.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except for one shag cut in about 1970 or 71 (hey, it was the 70s, folks, and I lived through them, not through the recreation of them), I've had long hair. It's not layered at all. Or styled, really. I've never had a perm--I have wavy, but not curly hair, and several hairdressers have warned me (not that I've ever been tempted) that a perm could do serious damage to my hair. It's always been red, but about 10-15 years ago I started getting flecks of grey. I started using a little henna, which (a) didn't damage my hair and (b) wasn't really noticable. Then about three years ago I had an Unfortunate Event with my henna--too much orange. (This often happens as the percentage of grey hair increases; henna and grey don't always go together well.) It wasn't as bad as it could have been but I was quite annoyed. I also realized that I was getting tired of dealing with it, because, as the amount of grey increased, it was more obvious at the roots. (In the beginning, you couldn't see grey roots.) So I stopped all coloring of the hair. I now have a layer of grey on top of the red--it looks blonde in some lights, but it's really grey--and I'm much happier with it. Because i haven't done a lot of chemical stuff to my hair over the years, it's actually in pretty good shape. It grows to about the bottom of my shoulder blades, and then the ends start to split so I have to get it trimmed (the Rodents Have Gnawed My Hair While I Sleep look is really not attractive). My mother has tried to get me to cut it short for about 20 years now--she thinks that "older" (i.e., older than about 25) women shouldn't have long hair. I laugh at her, of course. I spend about 5 minutes per day on my hair. After my shower (I have to wash the hair every day, but that doesn't take long), I wrap it in a towel for a few minutes while I dry off and moisturize various dry bits, then I comb it out, let it hang for awhile while I dress, then I get out the blow dryer, bend over so my hair is all hanging down in front of me, blow it dry for a few minutes, comb it out a little, put a cheapo plastic headband on, and that's it. When I play handball, I put it in a french braid and wear a headband, to keep it out of my eyes. For yoga, I usually just clip it back (except for the on-your-back poses, when it lays on the mat). One of the things I love about long hair is that it's more forgiving in terms of needing a haircut--no Bozo effect (the side wings that result from a shaped/layered haircut that's growing out). another is that i can always braid it or otherwise pull it back if it's getting in my way or it's hot or whatever. My SO complains about the shedding--my hair does tend to appear all over the place--but I ignore him on that matter.


4:35 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

A natural next question: How much do you or have you altered your appearance for the sake of your SO? That inclues shedding, Carla. ;)

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not much at all, really. I don't even vacuum up my hair reliably, even though he complains about it. (When the living room is no longer inundated with his crap, I might consider it.) (but probably not, because I'm a big ol vacuuming-hater.) I will occasionally ask his opinion (and he mine) because he's got pretty good color sense and style sense, and he likes my style as is. If I can't decide between options for some reason, I'll get his input, because it means I don't have a strong opinion and I'm willing to defer to his taste--kind of like how we pick the desserts we're going to share. The one thing I will do is wear something I know he likes if we're going out somewhere together on a date-like occasion.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I've got the hair thing and the tattoo thing, but that's all I compromise on. (Occasionally I flirt with the idea of getting something pierced, which he's also very anti, but it goes away.) And everything else isn't much of a problem. He has preferences, of course, but doesn't make a big deal out of them, probably because clothes can be changed easily, unlike a haircut.

He doesn't like my current shoes, though. He calls them "clown shoes." They're the most comfortable, most wonderful things I've owned and possibly my favorite purchase ever. I put them on every morning and think, "Oh my God, I love these shoes." (They're red Born loafers, expensive but worth every penny.)

6:08 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

The boyfriend doesn't particularly like makeup, but I wear a little subtle makeup anyway, when I feel like it. I got him to exfoliate his face (now he likes it, despite initial skepticism). He likes how I look in purple; I'd pretty much live in purple if I could, so that works nicely. That's about the extent of it.

When we had cable, we'd watch Queer Eye and What Not to Wear together. Carson Kressley is good, but I dare say Stacey and Clinton are even better. They don't get guys on the show very much, though.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's hysterical--Dave HATES my Born shoes! I forget what he calls them--it might even be clown shoes--and I have several pair at this point (two brown, a black, and a blue--all bought on sale except the blue, which I had to have because the color was so great and matches so much of my stuff). He doesn't much like my bright yellow Chuck Taylor hightops, I don't think, but he doesn't say anything. He likes all nine pairs of my cowboy boots, though, so it works out. And his favorite color is purple, karen, so he'd be liking your clothes, too! Purple and turquoise look great on me--red, pink, bright orange, not so much.


6:38 PM  

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