I want to write about the day that I had my cut my hair… because this wasn’t any ordinary haircut.
I was sitting on a black salon chair, the kind that swivels awkwardly and sticks to your bare legs if you’re slightly warmed by the season. A cape weighted down on my shoulders and an apprentice was blow drying my mane, for the last time. Wet flicks had clung to the polyester until it had all succumbed to being dried, and then firmly grappled into a braid.
It was held out to the side, an emphasis on the event; to remind me what I was doing here… or the final opportunity for me to say “No! Don’t do it!” But I looked at that beautiful braid and I knew that I wasn’t looking at my hair anymore.
My tresses; revered for their length and style, au naturel with a light wave and curve that I would simply ‘wash ‘n wear’. No need for product or dye. It exuded its presence by often getting caught in my handbag zipper, or gently tickling my lap when I thought I was swishing a fly away. Envy gave me a nickname, as I became affectionately known as ‘the b*tch with the hair.’
The young stylist had come with a good rep. I had asked a woman with a cute pixie cut at a vintage frock shop that I’d noseyed into. I knew that it wouldn’t be the cheapest option, but I knew that it had to be done right. I’d booked on a Monday morning, and came back that afternoon armed with pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and Miley Cyrus. “I’d like something similar to Miley, but without the personality”, I said.
There was no time to back out.
This wasn’t a haircut only for me, but a donation to be made into a wig. I’d wanted to do it as part of my last birthday’s 32 random acts of kindness, but I couldn’t find a way to donate in NZ and I was still too attached to my locks. They were my trademark. In Italy and Scotland, I’d noticed that I’d started staring at women with cropped cuts. It was time.
The scissors carved away at the mass, like a blunt butcher’s blade. Every strand separating, until the stylist held up my braid, like a prized fish he’d just caught. We dropped it into a plastic sandwich bag and I quickly wrapped it up and hid it away.
On the way to the basin, my hair had fallen into a chunky asymmetrical bob. I kinda liked it as is, with its roughness and unevenness, but decided I should still go the whole way. With my head tilted back, for once in a long time, my hair didn’t snake down into the drain.
I flicked through magazines to the sound of the snip snip and casually chatted, making nervous jokes but being aware that I didn’t want to distract Scissorhands. Occasionally I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. This used to be an issue for me, particularly in salons with the florescent lighting, where I’d pick away at my facial ‘flaws’. This was the first time that I smiled back a little. I’ve accepted who I gorgeously am. I’ve come a long way.
With my bag of hair in hand, the cutters and clients marvelled at my new style and dished out compliments on me suiting my new look. I knew this. I was proud, a little drafty around the neck and a lot lighter, but proud. For me this wasn’t only a haircut, a donation, a new look; but it was to signify the change in myself, on my journey.