Friday, November 18, 2011

That Awkward Stage

Whenever anyone says, "I'm having a bad hair day." I feel a twinge of envy - not because I wish to look worse than I do but because they are able to quantify their bad hair into days.  To say "I'm having a bad hair week ...or month ...or year" just doesn't sound as cute.  If I were honest, I'd have to say "I'm having a bad hair decade" which knocks me into the realm of the whiny now, doesn't it?  Whiny for sure but honest, too.

I first became aware of hair issues when I looked at my sixth-grade class picture.  Sixth grade is an awkward age anyway and this picture is painful to see.  My bangs sort of made this horrifying swoop across my forehead (and beyond) that caused me to want to swear off bangs forever.  (And the sparkly blue glasses?  Let's not go there either.)

I am blessed with thick, heavy hair.  The only time it looks good is on the day when I have it professionally cut.  When beauticians see me come through their door, they all either go on break or scurry to the back to try to look busy, hoping to avoid being the unlucky one to give me my haircut.  It is painfully obvious to them that this is going to be more than just a mere haircut - it's going to be a project.  It will take far too long for what they are going to be able to charge me.  (By simply glancing at me, they can see I'm the kind of patron who is carrying that $7.95 coupon wadded up in the pocket of my ratty blue jeans.) 

When I was a newlywed, my mother-in-law said, "I prefer your hair short, Chris." Because she was my mother-in-law, I ignored her and started growing my hair out.  It was the era of frazzled or stringy hair days.  Sometimes frazzled and stringy hair days.  Not my best look. 

Somewhere along the way to my 50s, I learned of Locks of Love, an organization that takes donated hair and makes wigs, primarily for children stricken with cancer or alopecia.  You grow your hair out to nine inches below the nape of your neck, put it in a pony tail, cut it off, put it in an envelope and mail it.  Simple.  Elegant.  Worthwhile.  I did that.  It felt really good, so I decided to start growing it again.  My hair grows really fast and it got to be mid-back length in only a couple of years. 

Around this time, our daughter Katie was a senior in high schol.  On her spring break all her friends went on exotic vacations and she was stuck at home, bored.  I have mentioned before in this blog that she has a Svengali-like effect on me and I am therefore powerless to exert my own will when under her spell (see the post entitled "I'm Being Dressed by Barbie" for further proof.)  When she suggested that she dye my hair red, I said, "Why not?"  Off to the drug store we went. 

There was an amazing array of products to choose from but our goal was specific.  We were not going for clown hair here, just something to add a little pizazz to my natural mouse brown.  We skipped burgundy and even auburn and settled "medium reddish brown." 

At home, we were giddy with excitement. Kate started working in the coloring foam when she realized that I had way too much hair or not enough dye, same diff.  She left me sitting there and went back to the store to get more.  Now I'm no Einstein but I do understand basic chemistry (not really) enough to know this was a recipe for disaster.  I ended up with circles of hair that didn't take the color and other parts that were super-saturated.  This was permanent hair coloring. What was I thinking? 

And so it was that I decided to cut my long hair again, only to find out that Locks of Love does not accept color-treated hair. I was disappointed but hair grows and in the blink of an eye it was shoulder length again but now there were strands of silver in it.  Locks of Love does not want gray hair, either.  Both colored and gray hair do not accept color the same as hair with natural coloring in it and, after all, they are making wigs for children.  I don't even want gray hair, why would they

This summer I was on my way to my class reunion and stopped in Cleveland to visit Kate, who took one look at me and dragged me off the the closest Cut and Curl.  She hovered over the stylist, telling her every hair to cut, how long to cut it and basically micromanaging the experience in every way she could.  They got to the front and I put my foot down.  "No bangs." I declared.  Katie thought I'd look good in bangs. "No."  I insisted.  She insisted.  I left with bangs.

Whenever I look in the mirror now, the awkward sixth-grade me peeks out through the wrinkles in the form of a weird swoop of bangs.  "I can kind of see what you mean." Katie admits.  The funny thing is, I don't mind it as much as I did the first time.  I think I've finally grown into being comfortable with who I am, no matter what I look like on the outside.  Considering that time is speeding by at an alarming rate, this is probably a very,very good thing.


Shirley said...

Looking for the LIKE button!

Anonymous said...

I love your sixth grade photo. I have several that compare. It would be my third or fourth grade photos that are hidden away. I should just destroy them so my grandchildren (which I don't have yet) will never see them. I still looked cute in second grade. I like that one.

I have never been adventurous with my hair....too much work. When I went to our 20th or 25th reunion someone said, you haven't changed....haha....I said yes I have, I now have bangs and I part my hair on the side and not in the middle. I wish I could have said the same at our 40th!

You have always been beautiful in my book.

I also didn't realize you moved to town just a year before me. As the "new girl" in seventh grade, I felt sooooooooo new and awkward. Such is junior high!


Anonymous said...

It could have been worse. One of my elementary school pictures I looked like a combed my hair before they took the picture...he used the same style he always wore.


Mae said...

Chris, I always thought in high school you were so cute with your straight hair! My whole head of hair had a mind of its own since it was naturally curly. It's still that way, but I have learned how to manage it and like it. As far as how we look I have learned that it is how we feel about ourselves on the inside that makes us even more beautiful on the outside. I sincerely believe anyone can look beautiful!