Friday, July 13, 2012

The Hair Up There


Last night, I gave Katie her first haircut.

Before I get demands for before and after photos or a blow-by-blow description of the grand event, let me clarify. I didn’t give her bangs, or trim off inches of length. All I did was cut off her annoying little rat tail, the one remnant of her newborn hair that stubbornly refused to fall out with the rest of its kind.

Why did I do it? For one thing, because it ruined the line of the rest of her hair, kept getting stuck in her collar, was straight next to the rest of her cute curls, and was the only part of her hair long enough to actually get tangled. But the other reason is that it just reminded me too much of the bad hairstyles that ran rampant when I was growing up.

I was born in 1968, which meant that I spent my younger childhood in the fashion black hole of the 70s, when hair was long, straight, and limp, and I spent my more fashion-conscious years of high school and college in the 80s, when the popular styles were big hair, bigger bangs, spiral perms, mohawks – and rat tails. At the time, we all (myself included) thought they were totally cool and fashionable. I recall a classmate with beautiful thick curly hair who cut it crazy short but grew a braided rat tail that by graduation must have been 18 inches long. Boy was I jealous of her coolness.

My own hairstyles were rarely the height of fashion, even at the time. I had a pixie cut as a toddler, long straight hair in my early childhood that I cut off into a Dorothy Hamill cut in first grade, grew it long again with bangs and the occasional disastrous home perm, cut it all off again in 7th grade, somehow ended up with a few tragic femullets through junior high and high school, and eventually settled into a semi-fashionable short cut all through college. I think my wildest hair thought was a passing desire in 9th grade to dye a single lock of hair on the side of my head magenta –my mother, to her dying day, was convinced that I had wanted to dye my entire head of hair magenta.
My 1976 school picture: the long hair years, just prior to the one trendy haircut I ever had, the Dorothy Hamill
It makes me wonder what horrific hairstyles my kids will come up with over the years. My husband probably doesn’t agree, but hair cuts and colors aren’t a hill I care to die on. Hair grows back, after all, unlike, say, piercings and tattoos. No matter what a girl does to her hair, it can’t be overly revealing or sexualized. No matter what a boy does to his hair, it can’t be anything that can’t be remedied with a razor (or a hat). The most unfortunate haircut in the world won't lead to infections or hepatitis. The worst result of a hair tragedy (whether accidental or by choice) is a class or yearbook photo. And don’t we all have those anyway?
My 1983 (failed) attempt at 80s big hair
So it Katie wants to grow her rat tail back someday, so be it. And if Ryan was to chop off his glorious curls into a Mohawk or a flattop, that’s his choice. I’ll be standing by with the camera.

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