Saturday, November 27, 2010


A week after my haircut, I went to class at my local community college. Four or five people noticed, and three of them individually gave me what they must've thought was a compliment: "It makes you look SO MUCH younger!"

Now I've never thought of myself as a person ever in the future needing to look younger. I always imagined I'd never consider dyeing my hair, putting on any kind of magic potion to make the age spots or crows' feet disappear, or heading to any doctor's office for botox or facelifts. I consider myself the anti-girly girl: not tomboyish, not butch, but just the opposite of really putting *that* much effort into looking a certain way. I'd learned it's too much unrewarded effort to invest more than a few minutes a day to beauty than what was necessary to be presentable: in the morning, wash out the eye boogers, brush the teeth, wash the face, slap on some moisturizer (or else I'll desiccate like you won't believe), and fluff out the hair (but never comb it unless it's wet).

This worked for my entire life. Well, I only learned the hair thing a few years ago.

My entire life I'd always been mistaken for an age other than mine, something between my then-current age and 18-21. When I was 12, I was mistaken for older. In college, people asked me what grade I was in. When I was 24, I was mistaken for a college student. Even a month ago, in my 30-somethings, two different people on two different occasions guessed I'm in my late 20s. I rarely wear any makeup, and I dress very plainly, and I act very immature. It's worked for me.

And then suddenly, with one compliment, it changed my whole outlook. I suddenly realized that I don't get carded anymore, and that maybe I should dye my hair to cover up the gray and maybe consider a magic potion or two.

I've officially been inducted into That Club, haven't I? *sigh*

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hairy Adventures

So a few weeks ago I decided to finally cut my hair. After months of weak-mindedly wanting to do it and then changing my mind again, I finally made the leap and got my hair lopped off. Twelve inches of it. For some unknown reason, I had always considered my long hair an integral part of my identity. And I guess that's why I had always hemmed and hawed when it came to actually making a decision to cut off my hair.

Anyways, the final seed was planted when the girls wanted to cut off their long hair. I wasn't particularly attached to their hair, although it was pretty fun to show off their beautiful straight shiny hair. However, combing it and styling it were not so much fun, and the girls hated waking up with it tangled up every morning. So when their friend cut off her hair and and donated it to Locks of Love, we thought hey, that would be a cool idea, and decided that would be something we'd like to do too.

Elizabeth was the first one to do it in March. She loved it, and would probably do it again in a heartbeat. And I think she felt really good about donating her hair. She's growing it longer again now. For another donation? Who knows.

Abigail begged and begged to do it next. She wanted to do it the same day as Elizabeth, but due to a misunderstanding (the stylist thought it was a 12-inch minimum donation, not 10 inches), we ended up having to wait until her hair grew another two inches, in May. She also loves having her hair short. One difference is that Elizabeth wanted to grow out her bangs, but Abigail wanted to keep hers. Her hair is growing again, too, but two months behind Elizabeth.

Then it was my turn. I kept hesitating. I kept making the excuse that my hair is too curly, and it'll just puff out when it's short. I'll look like an old Korean lady with badly permed hair. The matronly look. You know, that look. I badly wanted to avoid the hairstyle I ended up with in sixth grade -- when my mom and aunt thought it'd be a great idea to cut my hair short and give me a perm. Yuck.

I had straight hair with a mind of its own when I was little. It was a decent length (not too short, not too long) when I was about 5 or 6. And then my mom and aunt (same aunt!) thought it'd be a great idea to cut my hair short. I really wanted to keep it longer, but they somehow convinced me that they're just gonna cut it a little bit. Well, every time her scissors went to my hair, they had decided that "it was uneven, and they had to cut the other side." You know, to "even it out."

I think I avoided putting scissors to my hair after that for a long time. By the time I was in fifth grade, my hair was pretty long again. But it was thicker, and getting coarse. I started to hate my hair because it was too hard to comb, but didn't know what to do with it. So again, I submitted myself to my aunt's scissors, and in sixth grade, I ended up with a bob and a perm.

You know how I feel about that.

So for the longest time after that, I largely avoided putting scissors to my hair again.

And I also avoided hair rollers like the plague.

After I got married, on a trip to Korea, I discovered "magic perm." I loved this perm. Basically they put perm solution in your hair and then iron it flat. Some people say they look dorky afterwards because their hair is so flat against the head. But I loved it. My hair looked so sleek, so smooth, so shiny, so not-coarse.

From haircut

I think I went back to get it done once or twice, but then decided I didn't want to shell out the $$$ for it, so I decided to grow it out. That's when the nightmare began. My hair, remember, was naturally coarse and wrinkly. And the permed section was flat. I have no words to describe this phase of my hair where the roots had a mind of their own and the ends hung limp and lifeless.

And then I got pregnant. Too tired to style my hair, too scared of chemicals to do anything to my hair, and not girly enough to really care.

Needless to say, at that point, I finally decided I'm not going to fight my hair. I'm not going to make it do something it doesn't want to do, because first of all, I'm too lazy to spend half an hour blow-drying it into submission every morning, because at the end of the week, that's three and a half hours of my life I'm never going to get back. Second of all, I'm too cheap to shell out $$$ for my hair when it's just going to grow out anyway.

So that's when I decided when I get my hair cut I'm going to be honest with myself and the stylist that I'm not going to really style my hair in the morning, and I probably won't get my hair cut more often than once a year, so please please please don't give me a high maintenance haircut. So the stylist cut off the flat parts, and did some razor-cut thing that I never really understood, and I vowed this would be my last bad haircut.

A few years after my girls were born, I realized that my hair looks great when it's wet, but looks horrible when it dries, so I began my quest to find something that'll help there. I found some hair gunk that works well, and discovered that although combing my hair when wet is fine, I should never ever ever comb or brush my hair when it is dry. And I also concluded that long hair means heavy, weighed down hair, that won't puff out into the matronly permed look.

I went and got one last haircut just to clean off the razored edges and thin it out a little, and stayed away from any scissors for about a year and a half.

So until a few weeks ago, that was my routine: after my shower, I'd rub in two squirts of my hair gunk, comb it through, and let it air dry. Simple as that. It'd look fine until I wash it again. As long as I didn't comb or brush it. I think a few times I did blow-dry it straight, just to mix it up. But for the most part, my hair rarely got blow-dried. I loved the length because I could twist it up into a bun and then hold it there with a pencil. How easy was that!

My hair grew until it went down to my waist, and then I realized it was always getting caught in my purse straps, Abigail was always playing with it and pulling ONE strand just enough to make it hurt, and it was starting to look really scraggly. The thinning that had been done a year and a half earlier was now just horrible, and my hair was starting to feel chlorine-damaged, although I was pretty careful to wash my hair as soon as I got out of any pool. I got some deep conditioner but that didn’t help much, so it was time to go and get it cut again.

Well, since the girls had been brave and got their hair cut off and donated it, I couldn’t just chicken out and trim off the ends. I had to get it all cut off. So that’s just what I did. Twelve inches sent it from my waist to my shoulders.

It feels so much thicker and healthier now. And since I’ve got my hair gunk, it doesn’t look all puffy and old-lady-permed. At least that’s what I think.