Why having curly hair is nothing to brush off
“Your bill will reflect a second thick hair charge as well. Also, I hate you.” – Every stylist ever
My interactions with hairdressers always follow the same pattern — which is saying a lot, because over the span of my life, I would estimate I’ve interacted with roughly 23 hairdressers. Be it number three or number 17, though, our dealings follow a singular progression.
Time 0:01 to 1:30. I sit down, and my stylist smiles. Because I am typically drawn to trendy stylists with names like Tiffany or Emmanuel, I will hereon refer to the professional in this scenario as “Tiffmanuel.”
I remove my hair from my signature fun bun™ and paint a picture of my end game: two-and-a-half inches off the bottom, ideally accompanied by a decrease in general volume. “No problem,” Tiffmanuel says, as he begins to run his fingers through my dense curls. He senses a challenge, but feels he can conquer it. “You have beautiful hair.”
Time 1:32 (two seconds later). “So much beautiful hair!” he says, beginning to doubt himself as his hand gets caught in a mass relatively close to the scalp. He motions to a nearby stylist, beckoning for her to come observe the tangled growth he laughably believed he could finger-comb. “Isn’t her hair so thick and beautiful?”
“LOL!!!!” the nearby stylist says with her eyes. Her patron has wispy hair and a Louis Vuitton bag full of tip money. The hair gods were kind to her today.
“Beautiful,” she smirks.
Time 7:41 (mid-shampoo). Tiffmanuel cuts me off while I’m telling a completely fabricated story about my older hipster boyfriend, who is waiting for me to graduate so we can go into the Peace Corps together and become so consumed with helping orphan children we don’t even realize the spark between us is gone — a fabulous romance woven under the tacit understanding Tiffmanuel doesn’t give two craps about a word I say.
“Since you have so much gorgeous hair,” he says, his voice slowly losing its soft edge, “Be sure to call ahead next go-round and let the receptionist know you need a little extra time.”
Time 13:53 (mid-cut). “You know, most people don’t know how to cut curly hair. I do — I’m just going to have to tack on a small thick hair charge at the end.”
Time 14:53 (still mid-cut). “Sarah? Yeah, cancel my 3 p.m.”
Time 24:34 (still mid-cut). “Your bill will reflect a second thick hair charge as well. Also, I hate you.”
Time 30:05. Craftsmanship complete. “Would you like your hair heat-treated?” Tiffmanuel asks, in a tone implying under no earthly circumstances will he treat my hair for even another second.
“Since I’m here, would you mind?” I ask innocently.
Note to self: this conversation should occur once he puts the scissors down. If I meet my maker in a salon, I don’t think anyone would even be surprised. The detective investigating my murder would look at the sheer amount of hair on the ground and be like, “Yep, that seems about right.”
So the process goes. It’s painful, but such is every day with a head of hair requiring you to buy “Kinky Curly” curling custard from the vaguely-racist “ethnic hair care” section of Target.
I’ve spent many a night lying awake in bed, wondering what I did to deserve such a sentence. As a fifth grader, I decided God ended day six with a ton of extra hair follicles, got really fed up trying to speak with a heavily-accented outsourced customer service representative from the returns department and just stuck them all on my head instead. Clearly, I had never paid much attention to the Old Testament part of religious school.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to cope with my difficult hair. It is what it is, after all, and I really just wouldn’t be myself if I were some wispy Louis Vuitton tart. Yes, there are days when I want to change Maybelline’s tagline to, “Maybe she’s born with it, and maybe that sucks, you stupid ad conglomerates” — but the Tiffmanuels of the world can’t keep me down for long. Their roots usually need touching up, anyways, and — save 359 of my Facebook photos — I am beautiful.
Julia’s column runs biweekly Thursdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.