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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

I Ask For Your Understanding: One More Post About Hair in the Time of Covid19

Back at the end of April, I blogged about hair. I knew it was a subject that many women were talking about, even during the Pandemic. Back then, the panic--well, panic is a bit overstated-centered around the patches of gray popping up like tulips in the spring. What was a woman to do? We couldn't step into a hair salon and were left to our own devices. I, for one, ordered a home color kit from Madison Reed; for a time, my hair didn't look too bad. While I refused to go "natural," a good number of women decided they would. For them, there was something liberating about showing their true colors.

Four months ago, there was another concern: what to do with a cut that resembled a mad woman who'd just gotten out of bed. I had strands of hair sticking out in all directions and thick hair trailing down my neck. My offered to cut it. I demurred. He may be good with a camera but scissors? Not so much. One day, out of utter frustration, I took a pair of scissors and, after completely butchering one side around my ear, I gave up.

Okay. Fast forward. I decided to let my short hair grow out. I'd worn my hair short since my fortieth birthday, except for one or two times in the ensuing decades. So, how about a change? I'd always admired the 1920s "bob" and, after looking at photos of me when I was five or six with a version of a bob, I decided to go for it. I knew the process would be painful but, in comparison to the thousands and thousands of Americans who were fighting for their lives, a bit of discomfort looking at my reflection in the mirror seemed like a small price to pay.

I was wrong! Sure, there were days when my hair didn't look too bad. And when my ears stuck out from the hair that had not yet grown to cover them, I told myself and anyone who'd listen that it would just be a few months before I'd look like the women in the Netflix special "Babylon Berlin." Ha! I clipped photos from magazines and dragged them to my home page as a form of encouragement. Just think: I was going to look like them.

One day, my husband surveyed my hair and said that I looked like the "little Dutch girl." Damnit. He was right. My short bangs and sides to match didn't look a thing like those 1920s women. My head was almost square and, later on, I realized that I was a spitting image of Icabod Crane. (The illustration doesn't do the style justice.)

Still, I soldiered on. I wanted a new me. Once the salon opened again, my hairstylist went along with my vision. She didn't try to talk me out of growing my hair. Secretly, I think she thought I was nuts. She "cleaned up" the section that I had butchered and, for a few days after, I was on the right track.

(In retrospect, I understand why when I told anyone who asked whether I was growing my hair out they never said, "Oh, I think it will look great." Because they didn't.)

I do have one friend who cheered me on. "I like it," she said. "Just another couple of months." I appreciated her support but, as the days crawled into weeks, then to a month, then another, even her kind words began to sound hollow. The sole saving grace was that, like every good citizen, I wore a mask whenever I left the house. A disguise of sorts.

The end of the saga: I woke up Saturday morning, washed my hair, took one look at the result, and called the salon. "Can you work me in?" I pleaded. Who was I kidding? It was a Saturday. No busy salon had openings on a Saturday. But the goddesses must have understood my plight because half an hour later I got a call asking me if I could make it there in less than an hour. I would have booked a first-class airline ticket--anything to grab the appointment.

Only then, did my stylist spill the beans. I was a short-haired girl. Period. And so she cut it all off. It feels great. No more trying to tuck strands behind the elastic on my masks or behind the "arms" of my glasses. I even look rather stylish in my baseball cap.

Okay, so the buzzed sides are taking some time to get used to. But they'll grow back in a matter of weeks.


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