“Let’s give it some style, you know? Without some layers, curly hair tends to look like a triangle. Not that your hair looks like a triangle…” It was only the latest and greatest hair haranguing I’ve received in my lifetime. There’s nothing worse than having your hairstyle called into question while wearing a smock that makes you uncannily aware of your chin(s).
I haven’t had a regular, go-to hairdresser since I was kid, back when my hair was styled to my mother’s whim: I’m just grateful I don’t have any yearbook picture ruining mushroom cuts or bad bangs to blame on her. My mom would take me to the same beauty parlor she went to, and a woman named Jamie cut my hair. I never recall liking or disliking Jamie, but I do remember her guest appearances in my life contributed to my animosity towards unisex names.
My hair spent a lot of its time ponytailed and barretted in my Hot Wheels-loving tomboy youth, so it never occurred to me that I should strike up a friendship with Jamie as the woman I was trusting with my luscious locks. I’m beginning fear my failure to bond with Jamie doomed all of my future stylist relationships.
A lot of people with regular stylists refer to them only as “their girl.” “Their girl” knows their hair. “Their girl” did their hair for their wedding. “Their girl” is reliable, honest, and respects that a trim means a trim. When it comes to hair care, I don’t have anybody in my corner — it’s just me, a picture of a celebrity whose $1,000 haircut won’t look the same on my head, and months of desperate bobby pinning. But I think I’m finally ready to change that.
I know I’m still young and that I have plenty of time to find the hairdresser of my dreams, but I’m ready to settle down now. I’ve been everywhere from the fancy salons to the reasonably priced hair cutting chains. I’ve tried women and men. I’ve tried moms that smell of cigarette smoke and who only cut hair to pay for their kid’s education, and I’ve tried pink-haired, tattooed chicks with Bettie Page bangs unleashing their “artistic expression” on my head. I really want to find the one — someone I can grow old with and who will dye my gray hair someday.
Unfortunately, the problem isn’t all of my former hair stylists — it’s me. Since I’ve taken over responsibility for determining my hairstyle, I’ve never had the right haircut. But why hasn’t the person with the scissors in their hand ever tried to change my mind? Am I not deserving of respect and honesty? I know when I’m seated in that chair I’m the customer, but don’t stylists have to take an oath like medical professionals to do no harm? In my sophomore year of high school I was convinced I wanted an “emo” cut (I hate my high school self, too), and no one tried to stop me. I’m just glad it all grew back by senior prom (and in enough time that I could at least enter college with a shred of dignity).
I want the kind of bond with my hairdresser that he or she will never be afraid to tell me choppy layers will make me look like Alice from the “Dilbert” comics or that a bob, with my hair, will always make me look like an adult Shirley Temple impersonator (a niche fetish I truly want no part of).
My heart (and wallet) is open, and I’m really looking for that special someone to wash my hair, mousse it up, and cut it with care and concern. So to all you hairdressers looking to take on a new client who tips pretty well for a woman in her early 20s, look me up. Awkward conversations about my career goals, your children, and the weather could be yours.