I got a haircut today, perhaps the first one in a year. And I was thinking about how it’s basically my fantasy to have a hairdresser standing behind me in the mirror, looking thoughtful, and then they say, “Would you trust me to try something different here?” I would be like, “YES!” But what happens instead is they ask what I want, and I stammer out some haircut terms I’ve heard on TV, and then I either walk out looking much the same, or maybe with shorter hair.
Today, I look much the same. But in a good way. I like my new layers, and I enjoyed the “treat yo’self” feelings of someone else washing my hair. But it still makes me think of this blog post I wrote in 2008 about getting my hair cut in New York, the first time (since the age of 6) I got bangs.
Hairdressers, and the Women They Laugh At
America’s Next Top Model. Project Runway. Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. What Not To Wear.
These are just a few of the shows on TV now that take ordinary people who look like me or only slightly better, sit them down, and employ a professional to tell those ordinary people exactly what is going to happen to them. Be it color, cut, makeup, or wardrobe, those people can rest assured that they are not being judged or made fun of, but that said professionals are there to help them look beautiful. Is it really hard to believe that while watching the stylist of ANTM hack off Samantha’s long blonde hair, or give Elina a curly red weave, both of which come out looking amazing, that I can only say wistfully to anyone who will listen, “I wish Tyra Banks and her stylists would show up here and make me over!”
Alas, walking into a salon is not a screen test to get on one of these shows, and after today, I think I have nearly as high a level of Salon Anxiety as I do of White Coat Syndrome. (White Coat Syndrome being, of course, that uncontrollable anxiety around doctors, even when they are doing the most unobtrusive of check-ups.) For weeks – possibly months – I have been talking to myself about getting bangs. Studying other’s people’s bangs, trying to fold my hair across my forehead looking into a mirror, and going through magazines and online articles about Best Bangs For You. Finally I made an appointment at Nola’s in our neighborhood (it’s Salon backwards, how clever is that?) and I went down there this afternoon.
They are all legitimately Irish, which is charming as all get-out, and they’re very nice people, but I do not speak the salon language. I had, however, spent days prepping my explanation of what I wanted, so that when she said, “What are we doing today?” (in an Irish accent), I replied without hesitation, “I would like to keep most of the length, but do some shorter layers for body, and also I think I would like…bangs.” (Note: I had promised Liz I would say “fringe” but I was too nervous.)
She sat me down and started combing and everything was great, until she held a up a piece from the back and looked at me in the mirror and said, “How long would you like your layers?” And I couldn’t even respond, I had no answer. I pretty much said, “I don’t know.” I don’t know! Long enough to keep with the length – short enough so they are layers? Why can I not go into a salon and say, “Make me pretty”? I think she might have laughed at me a little bit when I said I didn’t know – I think this was the same girl I had last time, months ago, and we had a similar run in: When it was time for the blow-drying, she said, “How would you like it dried?” And I said, “So it’s…dry? And pretty?” And she said, “Would you like it straight, or flips…?” And I said, “Flips?” And she said, “Flips?” And I said, “Yes, let’s do flips,” which ended up being curls at the end, which looked lovely, but she did laugh at me a little bit then too.
So today she had to tell me how long she would do the layers, and I said that was great, and she continued cutting. When she got to the bangs part, she combed them out and then said, “You’re sure?” in the way that you would confirm the first cut of any big operation, and I said, “Yes,” and then watched my blonder front hair fall into my lap. She blew them out and sort of curled them under after she had finished everything else.
I love the layers, partly because they are all flippy at the ends (see? flips). The bangs I am not so sure on. To my still a little shellshocked eyes, I look like a cross between Peg from Lady and the Tramp, and a 12 year old at a school dance in 1998. Drew, who says he would tell me the truth but who I don’t completely trust in for the whole truth, says it looks like Anne Hathaway’s hair in The Devil Wears Prada. He just knows I think she’s beautiful though. So I am still unsure about them, although I sort of wish I had gone with my hesitant instinct and not done the bangs – I can always start pinning them back and let them grow out. C’est la vie.
Also, why is it that no matter how much makeup I put on, I get in the chair with nothing to look at but my face and my wet clumpy hair hanging all over or clipped on top of my head – and I am always ashamed with how I look. It must be the wet clumpy hair, but I can never prepare myself for that.
In short, please, TV (Bravo in particular), stop lying to me and making me think that hairdressers want to tell me exactly what they are going to do to make me beautiful. Also, if there is anyone out there who is a hairdresser, I will pay you good money to be a Tyra Banks to my Lauren. Doesn’t that sound like a good deal? Also, Liz, I hope your wedding is themed “Full House children” because then I will fit right in.
[The best part is, I then included a picture of myself with my new bangs, which I remember thinking was so weird-looking, but it really just looks like me now, except like seven years younger. Oh, and these are the bangs that ended up growing out and disappearing. This new iteration of bangs that I have now started in 2010.]