Saturday, 19 March 2016

Surviving the annual haircut humiliation

As you may have gathered, I am not a lifestyle / beauty / fashion type blogger. I just about know my eyeliner from my eye shadow and my Primark from my Prada, but looking perfect does not feature high on my priority list - even less so now I'm a Mum.

Trips to the hairdresser always feel like a voyage into a foreign land therefore, fraught with the potential to show myself up as some clueless outsider, totally unfamiliar with the ways of the locals - you know, the ones who wear lip gloss, perfume, proper heels and bat-wing tops (my hairdresser today had fronds on hers that I was convinced she was going to accidentally snip off at any moment) and know about fashion. The unashamed, dedicated focus on appearance makes me feel uncomfortable and frumpy, even though I normally don't give much thought to how I look.  I never see the same hairdresser twice because I can't face the horror in their eyes when they figure out it's been a whole year since I last had a trim. It's ridiculous because I know I'm not really being judged, but I still feel as if I'm letting them down by allowing all their hard work to grow out and go frizzy, and convince myself they're going to label me as a failure to womankind and give me a shoddy cut.

So, as I sat down in the chair today, I told my usual fib about it being about six months since I'd last visited (ahem) and vaguely gesticulated that I wanted some hair cut off. As ever, this was not enough for my stylist du jour and a full beauty exam began: how much hair she should take, where did I want my parting, how many layers did I need, what shape should my fringe be, would I prefer the glossing or moisturising treatment, was the water temperature OK...  Mostly I just answered "err... I'm not really sure. What do you think?" like an unprepared amateur who would probably agree to a lime green mohican if someone suggested it was "on trend" right now.

Then came the lecture about how I should look after my hair (invest in a decent heat protector spray and always leave your home hair masque on for an hour covered in a hot towel girls!) followed by some twaddle about cuticle smoothing and hydroxy amino peptides (I may be paraphrasing). I wanted to shout "look, I'm out of my comfort zone here. Please just cut my damn hair!". But I didn't because my hairdresser was perfectly well-meaning and lovely, and was just doing her job - infinitely better than I ever could I might add (as Duckling's first haircut will attest. Wonky tufts are in for the under threes, right?).

It's not that I don't care how I look. I am a feminist and as such I dislike society's excessive focus on the perfection of women's bodies, but I'm also a realist and I recognise that, male or female, to get on in life it helps to look a few steps removed from a tramp (no offence to tramps). I do like to wear clothes that flatter, my wardrobe is certainly not empty, and I just about still care enough to put some concealer and mascara on before work. I just can't take the beauty industry seriously or get enthused about the detail of "glamour" because it just seems so shallow and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  Plus looking permanently perfect must be damn exhausting. Hats off to you if you manage to pull it off - particularly if you're a parent.  Given the choice between an extra 10 minutes in bed, and poker straight hair, the bed wins every time for me.

All this said, I would be lying if I said I didn't give my new hair a little swish and admire it in a few shop windows on the way home. It IS undeniably nice to feel a little bit beautiful sometimes, which is why I still put myself through the uncomfortable process of going to a proper salon, rather than just going DIY.  Plus not looking like this all the time just makes me appreciate it all the more - I'm just glad nobody (not least myself) expects me to keep it up.

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