Thursday, October 18, 2012
From Hair to Eternity
Many of my liberal feminist friends have encouraged me to write about "Binders of women" this week. But, I think it's been covered.
Instead, I'm going to write about a more serious topic, one that is near and dear to the hearts of teenage girls like my daughter. Hair.
My husband's been away at a business meeting all week, so last night, my daughter and I went out for Chinese food. Afterwards, we stopped at Orange Leaf, the new self-serve frozen yogurt place in our town. After wonton soup, crab rangoons and shrimp lo mein, I have no idea where she found the extra room for dessert. But, life is full of mysteries when one is a parent.
At any rate, after my daughter created her sundae (cake batter yogurt with crushed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cookie dough bites, maraschino cherries and whipped cream — really), we quickly headed out. She still needed to read a chapter of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Right by the door though, there was a tiny toddler enjoying a much smaller and less decadent dish of yogurt. She had blonde bangs and two little pigtails sticking up on either side of her head. My daughter and I stopped and sighed in unison, "Awwww ..."
"That's exactly how you used to look," I told her. She too had bangs and fine, straight, blonde hair, and there was nothing she liked more than a "hairdo." Each morning, before I dropped her off at preschool, she would art direct while I brushed and combed and arranged to her exacting specifics.
"How many pigtails today?" I would ask.
"Six," she might say. Or seven ... or eight ... or twelve. Really. Often, she arrived at school with an asymmetrical assortment of little pony tails and braids all over her head. Her teacher would laugh. There was my daughter, looking like a Dr. Seuss interpretation of Rapunzel. And, there would be me, having clearly not had a chance to even comb my own hair, much less apply makeup. In my defense, I had a long commute into Boston each morning, with lots of time to get my act together. (And no, I didn't do it while I was driving. There were plenty of red lights, stop signs and complete stand-still bottle-necked traffic jams to makeup an entire drag queen act.)
These days, my daughter is not quite as bold with her 'dos. But, she does try different things. This morning, she left with a low pony tail on the side and a thin strip of hair wrapped around the elastic so it looked like there was no elastic involved at all. Very cool. Thank goodness for the step-by-step instructions in Seventeen, because I wouldn't begin to know how to achieve that effect.
Her hair has gotten darker as she's gotten older. On a vacation a couple of years ago, I encouraged her to try Sun-In. In my experience, it's a fairly harmless diversion. But, I didn't think about the fact that while I can cut out the highlights after just a couple of months because I keep my hair super short, she would have to live that way for a while. My bad. To this day, I still have to hear about it. Of course, I and everyone I know think she looks fine. Try telling that to her.
My daughter's hair is poker straight, and various attempts at curls and waves over the years have not been successful. We invested in a curling iron last summer and, after some initial trial and error, I was able to make ringlets for the elegant bar mitzvah we attended in London. I tried to ignore the smell of burning hair which followed us the rest of the trip despite numerous showers.
And, speaking of showers, I'm surprised the East Coast isn't in the middle of a drought thanks to my girl. Showers around here are seemingly endless affairs. And expensive too; we go through shampoo and conditioner at quite a clip. She's donated to "Locks of Love" twice, but her hair is still more than halfway down her back. It takes a long, long time to care for that long, long hair.
Oprah's grandmother used to tell her that a woman's hair is her "Crowning glory." Since my daughter is a bit of a tomboy (she hasn't been a girly-girl for over a decade now), I'm happy to see her take an interest in her appearance. But, I'll try to help her keep it all in moderation as she grows up and grows older. Not just because of the world's fresh water supply (or our endless trips to the haircare aisle of CVS). But, because beauty is only skin deep and there are more important things than what's on top of your head.
Frankly, I'm more interested in what's inside her head.