Women And Their Hair

Apr 17


The entire economy would collapse tomorrow if women were satisfied with the hair nature gave them.

Satisfied? Don’t be ridiculous. We spend gazillions of dollars on products and services to change our manes. We dye our hair, fry our hair, curl it, straighten it, streak it, bleach it, cut it short, grow it long, braid it, dread it (literally and figuratively), gel it, spray it, condition it — and only a serious Act of God will keep us from our appointment with our hair stylist. Sometimes not even that.

True story:

A woman of a certain age was getting her hair done. She started feeling chest pain during the color process, but said nothing. The pain got worse during the haircut, and finally, as her hair was being blown dry and styled, she told the hairdresser to call 911, insisting — no, demanding — that he finish the job. The ambulance arrived quickly. Too quickly. So the stylist accompanied her to the hospital, where she arrived looking pale but well coiffed.

In spite of this, or perhaps because of it (we heal better with a positive attitude and a good cut), the woman recovered and continues with her weekly appointment at the salon to this very day.

Our Crowning Glory. . .

Or a thorn in our sides?

My friend Susan swears that the world looks rosier after you get your hair colored, and who am I to argue. I’m getting mine colored right now, and I’m feeling better already. It wasn’t easy to get here, either. I woke up this morning with the worst case of sciatica I’ve ever had. I considered canceling my dinner date and not going to the exhibit at the National Arts Club I was looking forward to. But cancel my appointment at the hairdressers? When hell freezes over.

Once, when I thought I might be having an intestinal blockage, I jumped into the bathtub — partly because the hot water eases the pain, but mostly to wash my hair. If I was going to the ER, it was going to be with clean hair. This is not quite as insane as it sounds. I have had these episodes fairly regularly ever since I had intestinal surgery, and the pain has always turned out to be a partial blockage or simply a bad case of gas, which doesn’t require medical attention and is helped by getting relaxed. Like soaking in a hot tub.

And yet.

All women are obsessed with their hair . . .

My 93-year-old aunt gets her hair done each and every week and if she couldn’t, she wouldn’t go out. At my last book club meeting someone took a picture of another member’s latest haircut to show to her stylist. And we all clip pictures form magazines in the vain hope that we’ll look like Angelina Jolie if we could only get her hairstyle. Fat chance.

RitaSepiaActresses like Rita Hayworth, not to mention Jean Harlow, Louise Brooks and Marilyn Monroe, Farah Fawcett and Jennifer Aniston, were all known for their hair. Among other things. Jackie O is reported to have had her hair done three times a week, more often for special occasions. I have to imagine that as First Lady, there were lots of special occasions.

Is this obsession with hair a bad thing?

I don’t think so. Your hair is one thing you have a modicum of control over. It’s easier to get a perm than to lose 10 pounds. Coloring your hair makes you look younger and is cheaper, easier, and less painful (pleasant, actually) than getting a face lift. You develop a nice rapport with your hairdresser, and you always have room in your life for a good relationship. Mine is with Ming. Very Zen.

I met Ming because I had done a wild a crazy thing: I got my straight hair permed. It was great for a while, making me look younger, sexier, and more approachable. But then it grew out and I had to get a series of perms on perms. My hair turned to Brillo, and I turned to getting it blown out in a straight style a few times a week. During the period between the onset of The Frizz and my meeting Ming, I touched my hair so often that I developed tricep muscles. Really.

Anyway, it grew out and I went back to my usual straight style, but have continued to see Ming. A girl needs a little Zen in her life. Not to mention color. Besides, for some unfathomable reason (hormones? climate change?) my once bone-straight hair has suddenly developed waves in weird places and Ming shows me how to deal with that.

Between appointments, I wash my hair almost every day, which involves shampoo, conditioner, and a very expensive hair dryer. So even though I don’t use gels, sprays, oils, styling aids, or any of the many, many hair products out there, I feel I am doing my part to help the economy. Oh, and I’m keeping that dinner date tonight. I feel much better. Maybe it was working out on the bicycle at the gym. Maybe it was the Advil. Maybe it was . . . Ming.


FYI: Ming is at Tease Salon on Second Avenue.

For more about sciatica:
The Heartbreak of Sciatica





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