Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Hairdressers

The hairdressers – different things to different people. To me, a treat, a well-earned luxury, an opportunity to pamper myself. To my friend, a hellish necessary inconvenience causing acute distress and anxiety from the moment the appointment is booked. She’s not good at conversations in busy, noisy places, which makes the hairdressers a very difficult place, unless you can lipread in a mirror. Also having to sit and look at yourself for a length of time can be difficult. I tend to purposely over-apply my make-up, but generally to no effect – my stylist looks healthy and glowing while I look like a starved vegetarian moments from death. Still, I embrace this opportunity to critique and make plans for a new healthier me. My friend stares and stares at herself until a mild form of body dysmorphia ensues. By the time we meet afterwards, we have to spend a good few hours on reassurance – no your eyes aren’t too big, no your hair isn’t too blonde…

But the key thing to the whole experience is the relationship with your stylist – which (whether you realise it or not) is one of the most important in your life. They have the power to make you feel glamorous and new or like one of the muppets. It’s important to build up rapport and trust, you need someone who will listen to your needs but also contribute yet not chop away blindly whilst telling you about their most recent social exploits.

If I am to consider my hairdresser experiences in terms of relationships over the past month, I have been through a break-up (after a long-term relationship), a one-night-stand and I am now at the start of a new relationship. Let me put this in context: 4 years ago the lovely Tara started cutting my hair, we have been through several very short styles, & ended up at a short bob (which I was growing). People would often compliment me on the cut, then last month Tara told me she was emigrating to Sydney the following Monday. I’m over the worst of the shock and loss now and can even wish her well, rather than be preoccupied with the immediate question, “who will cut my hair?”

So, yesterday I took the bull by the horns and had my first “blind date” with stylist Melissa. It was not a roaring success. I had short layers where there should not be short layers, and a thick wodge of woolly hair jammed behind each ear. If you have thick hair, like me, with alpaca tendencies you have to break-in any new stylist carefully. Invest some time, give them the benefit of your 20, 30, 40+ years of experience of dealing with the wire wool or candyfloss that grows on your head, but don’t be too overpowering and bossy…I tried, she tried, but it just didn’t work. She held the back-mirror, I nodded and smiled in true English spirit whilst inside wanting to cry a bit.

I left the hairdressers and immediately threw more money at the situation, buying lots of hair grips, clips and bands, but now it wasn’t long enough to clip back. Fighting the panic, I managed to talk it through with my friend who suggested rationally that I call them and ask for it to be put right. Once she had said “Hm, I see what you mean” whilst casting a critical eye over my barnet, I knew I had to wrestle with my tendency to try to avoid confrontation and be grown-up, assertive – complain. And, it went surprising well! I was booked in the following day with Bryan, who also appraised the cut with “Hm, I see what you’re saying”. Subsequently, he has rectified as best he can & I have a free appointment with him next month. We discussed my hair, he finished my sentences, it was marvellous. So, it may not have been a fairytale start to my new stylist relationship, but at least I’ve found somebody now who is on the same wavelength!

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