May 1, 2014

A Hair Raising Story

It is said that hair can be our crowning glory. Why does hair have to be so much of who we are?  It begins at birth when a child is born with an enormous amount and it is declared “Look at the hair on that kid.”  I’ve seen hair that was grey, brown, black, blonde, and even pink. Some hair is straight, curly, coarse, fine, thick or thin. Some religions cover their hair for modesty and others are not so strict. My mother told me that I complained about my hair as a child and I even used a swear word when I tried to comb it.  Now that I am past 50, it is thinner than ever before with spots of exposed skin peaking through and to be honest it’s distressing.  However, I find the lost hair somehow growing in places that I never expected. 

me at 12 years old
I’ve always had “thick hair” envy.  Women would walk past me with manes so thick they couldn’t find a band large enough to encompass their pony tail.   I would look at their hair longingly and bemoan my thin hair fate then reach upwards to touch mine and was always disappointed.  The hair clips in the store were too big for my meager locks and would drop to the floor as soon as I fastened the clasp.  My thin, fine tresses lay limply around my face and on humid days it was matted to my scalp.  Of course, I had to have a cowlick into the mix as well.  My bangs never lay flat no matter how hard I tried.  

I’ve used gel for lift, perms to perform miracles, and enough hairspray to finance the manufacturer’s trip abroad for a year and yet I kept trying to find help for my deficit.  

During the late 60’s and 70’s I wore my hair long and parted in the middle. Not such an attractive style for everyone.  Then there were those awful school pictures that were taken year after year.  My hair was either oily, flat, or the photographer didn’t know where my best side was.  There is something about hair that makes one want to burn all of their school pictures.

As the years began to add up my hair gradually became shorter until I decided to take the plunge. When I was 21 I decided to have my hair cut short.  I was working at the shoe store then and made an appointment with a stylist before work one day.  Afterwards, I went to the Health Food Store down the street from work and I saw my boss shopping.  “Hello Alice,” I said, but she didn’t recognize me.  “I’m Jeannie,” I insisted. Many of the regular customers that came into the shoe store didn’t recognize me either that day. In the evening when I came through the kitchen door my father saw me for the first time.  Dad was sitting in his favorite chair with his black framed glasses perched low on his nose while he was reading the morning paper. As he looked up at me over his glasses his jaw dropped.  It took him a few minutes to let the drastic change in the length of my hair adjust in his mind.   He never said a word.

me at 21 years old
A few weeks later, I rode along with my parents to a store.  My mother went inside while my father and I waited in the car.  My father watched me in the backseat through the rear view mirror. He turned around and looked at me very closely.  “You look good with your hair like that,” he said, “You really do.”  My dad never complimented me before regarding my appearance.  I was thrilled and thanked him shyly. I pondered his words for many years to come.  From then on I kept my hair short because my father approved and he never wasted words when they were unnecessary.

I should be thankful for the amount that I have.  My situation could be worse.  The cause of my hair loss is due to female patterned baldness, per a dermatologist’s diagnosis, which has greatly affected my perception of old age.  I didn’t come into this world bald and I expect the same amount of hair on my head when I leave. Oh please?!