The title of this blog may seem odd, especially from someone who has made a practice of not obsessing about her hair. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve said as an adult ‘I’m having a bad hair day.’
That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent time and money on my hair over the years. When I had hair to my shoulders, I got perms on a regular basis because I thought I looked better if my hair had some body and curl. It was easier to accomplish that by perming my hair every three months than it was by fussing with it every day.
One evening after work, I went to get my hair cut. It was January, I was recovering from the flu, and all in all, was having the usual hard time believing I would survive another New England winter. My hairdresser suggested to me that I cut my hair short. I said no, but once back in the chair after the shampoo, I said ‘oh, what the heck, do it.’ I walked out with a pixie cut, which I grew to love.
In my early 40s, I started getting gray hair and at some point, decided to color my hair. After a couple of rounds of coloring it to match my original hair color, I realized that this was a chance to have red hair, which I always said was on my list of things to have in my next life (that, being 5’10”, and being able to sing). I loved having reddish hair—I felt it suited my personality!
To be honest, as much as I liked being able to have the hair color I wanted, I also kept coloring it because I worried about age discrimination in the corporate world. People told me that I came across as younger than I was because of my energy and enthusiasm. I was afraid that if my hair was gray that people would not be able to see past that and would dismiss me because of it.
Over the years, I realized that hair, at least for women, was very often a way of making a statement about a life change. More than one male hairdresser has told me that women cut their hair or make some other drastic change to it after the breakup of a romantic relationship. I’ve always said that if I set up a foundation to help homeless or abused woman, the monies would be used to pay for good haircuts and good undergarments. Perhaps that seems frivolous, but my gut instinct is that those two things give women confidence.
This past summer, while in recovery mode from an accident, I thought about shaving my head, which is something I always wanted to do. I know, it’s weird, but I thought it would be fun and hair grows back. Having been dissuaded from that, I decided to stop coloring my hair. Fortunately, having short hair made the process reasonably short and painless. Like so many of my female friends who’ve done the same thing, now I can’t see going back to coloring my hair.
Looking back, I see that the impetus was partly getting to a point where I no longer gave a damn about the hair. I still care about how I look but when it comes to having to spend time and money on something like hair color, I’d rather have the time and money for something more important, thank you. If people want to discriminate against me based on hair color indicating age, then so be it. The other factor, though, was what I said before—this is a way of making a statement about a life change. I didn’t think of it in that way a year ago, but now I see that perhaps that was percolating even then.
Oddly, I sometimes feel as if my hair is happy about the change! It seems to have a life of its own—curling and waving and feeling thicker than I would have thought at my age.
So, if you want to change your life, do something with your hair!