Gimme A Head With Hair

From the Broadway show Hair:

Gimme a head with hair
Long, beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there (Hair!)
Shoulder length or longer hair (Hair!)
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy, daddy

Hair (Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair!)
Grow it, show it
Long as I can grow it
My hair

I don’t post many pictures of myself. I’m not as young (or as thin) as I used to be, and photos, especially ones posted on social media, tend to be ego-bruising, not ego-boosting. As a writer, I’d rather use my words and leave the rest to your imagination. One aspect of my physical appearance that I actually like is my hair, which is always some variation of long with blond highlights courtesy of my hairdresser.

During the pandemic and especially before being vaccinated, I went to the hairdresser only once for a quick trim. When I eventually got my vaccine in April, the first thing I did was schedule a two-hour appointment for highlights and a haircut. I was beginning to like my new look with extra-long hair, so I asked for just a little trimming and framing around my face.

This fall, I needed to take head shots for my new website and the back cover of my paperback book, Boozy Lifestyle. I set up a ring light and took pictures with my phone. It seemed that the long blond hair, along with a good amount of make-up and good lighting, made me look more like my younger self. Getting a few good shots was a confidence booster and I was very pleased with the results. A picture of me holding baby Skelly made a funny, yet flattering addition to the “About The Author” section of my book cover, the Boozy Lifestyle website, Facebook, and other social media.

I liked this new rock and roll version of me with long flowing hair but working with hair down to my armpits was proving to be a challenge. It tangled into knots during shampooing that took a good five minutes to comb out with conditioner. Blow drying the frizzies out of it was also a time-consuming chore. When I had hair this long in the past, my previous stylist cut some long layers at the bottom to make it more manageable. So, I found a photo of a long, layered hairstyle to show my hairdresser.

We had a five-minute conversation about the haircut while looking at the photo. She started in the back and as she came around to the front, she created layering by pulling sections away from my head. As the front section of hair fell back to my face, the overall length was only at chin level. Where were the long layers that were supposed to rest on my shoulders as in the photo? At first, I couldn’t accept that my hair was so short. Maybe the longer layers were hiding in the back? I came to realize later that by hoping my hair wasn’t really gone, I was experiencing the first stage of grief, known as Denial. She had taken a good six inches off the length; more than a year’s worth of growth of my precious hair was lying on the floor. I wept as she swept. I left the salon with a bad bob, and probably the shortest haircut I’ve had since I was a child.

I suppose if a hairdresser makes an error with coloring or doesn’t cut enough off, it can be fixed. A victim of a bad haircut like mine has no option but to wait for it to grow back. And six inches takes a long time. The emotional trauma of losing my hair was like mourning the loss of a loved one, beginning with Denial at the salon and morphing into Anger, the second stage of grief, as I drove home. For days I didn’t want to wash and style my hair because feeling its absence was too painful. My newly found self-esteem plummeted every time I looked in the mirror. Like Samson, who lost his strength when his locks were shorn, I had lost my self-confidence along with my hair.

I had thoughts of telling my hairdresser how disappointed I was and letting her try to make it up to me (the third stage of grief known as Bargaining), but in the end decided I didn’t trust her enough to ever go back. I had a few days of Depression (grief stage four), feeling highly stressed and losing sleep while I tried to analyze what went wrong and how it may have been prevented. But alas, what’s done is done.

One small advantage of short hair that I discovered after relenting to deal with it, was that I could get through a shampoo and blow-dry in no time at all. This positive change in attitude signaled the beginning of Acceptance, the last stage of grief. I progressed further into the Acceptance phase by starting my search for a new hairdresser. I repeated a soothing mantra to myself, “It’s only hair, it will grow back, it’s only hair, it will grow back…” As for my self-esteem, I’ll be living as a recluse for the next six months until my hair returns to something resembling normal.

Being that my book and blog are called Boozy Lifestyle, I try to tie each of my stories to aspects of a boozy life such as wine, spirits, or food. To tie my haircut debacle to my boozy lifestyle, I can tell you that I needed a stiff drink that evening to drown the sorrow of losing my shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen mane of hair, and my renewed self-confidence along with it.

Published by J Reilly

Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse by Julia Stacey Reilly is available on Follow J Reilly @boozy_lifestyle on Twitter and Instagram.

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