As someone who’s recently moved to a very new place (a plane ride away from my last home), I’m learning all sorts of new things. Making new decisions. Finding new people to be in my circle of trust, from doctors to friends to, yes, hair dressers.
It may be one of the most difficult decision a grown woman makes – at least in a first-world country. Yes, go ahead and laugh (if you’re a man). Finding a new person to trust with your hair is a big deal. At least it was when I moved back in 1991. That was the last time I had to find someone new. The same person has been cutting my hair now for 25 years. Amazing and yet comforting.
Why do we care so much? Perhaps it’s because we understand that appearances do count. People will judge us based on how we look, at first. We have control over so much, from the make-up we wear (or don’t wear), the clothes we pick and wear at any given time. Shoes can say so much about a person, from their phase in life (student vs. career) to their profession.
Hair, on the other hand, is out of our control (unless, like teenagers, we’re dyeing our hair all sorts of colors, testing new looks and new presentations to the world, or coloring ourselves in the privacy of our homes). We don’t typically cut our own hair, however. In some families, a relative or friend cuts their hair. I’ve never had that; no one I know is talented in that area. I’ve always relied on a professional to cut my hair. And now they do more for me: color, highlights, etc. It’s quite expensive and yet it’s the one luxury that I keep.
Why spend so much? Why care so much? Aside from falling prey to advertising and marketing for hair care products, it feels as though there’s more at stake. I believe the way my hair looks helps to define me. Women have longer hair when they are younger and then shorter hair as they age. Going grey is one of the realities of age and how people deal with it tells a story about their economic status, their views on aging, their preferences and style.
The great luxury of having the same person cut my hair for 25 years is trust. I know he’ll do a good job. I know I’ll look my best when I leave the salon. He knows my preferences and I have seen his results. He understands how I want to present myself to the world. Perhaps that’s why change is difficult. Once we come to trust someone to help us define ourselves, outwardly, it’s hard to trust someone new.
Do Millenials feel differently? I don’t believe so, based on what I’ve seen and heard. Hair is still self-defining. We only take that selfie when we’re happy with our hair, right?