“There’ll al­ways be some­thing un­de­ni­ably ap­peal­ing about the prom­ise of a quick fix, even when there’s noth­ing to fix.”

Glamour Hair - - Highlights Real Life -

much hair pooled on the floor. I had a sick­en­ing feel­ing, and then he an­nounced, “All set!”

I lifted my head to find, not the bob, but a su­per-short pixie cut. Fram­ing my round face and full cheeks, it looked so com­pletely and ut­terly wrong.

I tried not to cry. I reached for the mag­a­zine page and mutely lifted it up, as if point­ing out the dis­crep­ancy would mag­i­cally give me the bob that I so de­sired. I looked in the mir­ror. Re­flected back on the op­po­site side of the page was a pic­ture of Wi­nona Ry­der with a cropped hair­cut.

Hair re­grets

I sobbed all the way home, pos­i­tive that this was so­cial ruin. If a fab­u­lous hair­cut could im­prove your life, couldn’t its op­po­site de­stroy you? My mother kept say­ing, “It’s a great cut!” as if she could make it so through the sheer force of rep­e­ti­tion. And I re­fused to have it trimmed. It came to be just a big, shaggy mess. I avoided the mir­ror. And when I did catch my re­flec­tion, my breath caught in my chest.

It took me two years to grow it out. All the while, I kept the mag­a­zine page in my night­stand. Ev­ery so of­ten, I would pull it out and stare at it. I hung a pic­ture of ac­tress Louise Brooks on my bed­room wall. I thought that Uma Thur­man in Pulp Fic­tion was the height of glam­our. But, by the time my hair was once again long enough, I was too afraid to visit the salon to cut it.

All through school, I wore my hair long. When I went off to board­ing school, no one even knew about the style catas­tro­phe. (All pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence had, of course, been de­stroyed.) By the time that I grad­u­ated, the pixie-in­duced trauma had re­ceded enough that I de­cided, like the lead in any

The bob at last

I loved that hair­cut fiercely, but that didn’t mean it loved me back. Sleek­ness could only be achieved by blowdry­ing, then fol­low­ing up with a flat­iron.

I did this ev­ery day for eight years. And like many style choices that seemed des­tined to change your life, the bob nei­ther added nor sub­tracted much from mine. It was not glam­orous; at best, it was cute. I looked noth­ing like the Vi­dal Sas­soon ad, and that was fine. Even­tu­ally, the bob be­came not about her or any­one else, but about me. It was my dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture for nearly a decade. I didn’t wear much makeup, and my clothes were un­re­mark­able; the hair­cut was my one claim to style.

In 2007, two things hap­pened to end my re­la­tion­ship with the bob: a bad breakup and Ri­hanna. Peo­ple I’d just met would com­ment, “Oh, you got that Ri­hanna hair­cut. How dar­ing.” Clearly, it was time for a change.

To­day, the idea of flatiron­ing, or fight­ing the nat­u­ral or­der of things un­der the as­sump­tion that the op­po­site must be best seems to be a huge waste of time. I still go to an ex­pen­sive salon with a tiny bit of my mother’s hope that tak­ing off a cen­time­tre or two might change my whole ap­pear­ance, though I know now that it’s all a fan­tasy. Still, there will al­ways be some­thing un­de­ni­ably ap­peal­ing about the prom­ise of a quick fix, even when there’s noth­ing to fix.

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