I used to fuck with my hair a lot. Every few weeks in my early twenties, I was home-dyeing it some new shade or experimenting with weird chunky highlights (remember the halycon days of HUGE, miles-wide highlights?) and asymmetrical bobs.
Over the years, my aimed-for ratio of pretty to interesting has slowly flip-flopped and now I covet the long, voluminous waves of a well-tended My Little Pony, which are best achieved by pretty much leaving my hair alone. But I can still remember the condescencion and disdain I received as a college freshman when I stepped into my first New York salon with that choppy crazy unevenly-dyed science lab on my head.
"Did you cut your OWN hair?" sneered the condescending jerk delivering my trim, and looked dubious when I told him that in fact, a professional had given me the shorter-in-back-longer-in-front-with-razored-ends look I was currently growing out.
"Girl, this haircut is cuckoo crazy," he told me, before spending the next half-hour huffing and sighing and shaking his head sadly about how he was possibly going to "correct" this mess on my head. I left feeling small and impotently angry.
And maybe my hair genuinely looked like shit or maybe that hairstylist was one of those beauty professionals who tries to shame women into feeling bad about themselves to keep them purchasing services. (See also, the aesthetician who tsk tsks over your bad skin, the whole diet industry.) But either way, that kind of treatment is way more likely to send me personally running for the door, rather than reaching for my wallet.
Olivia and Madeline got really excited I was writing about this topic because they've both experienced the same thing -- Olivia because nobody knows what to do with her biracial hair and also one time her hairdresser found a stick in it, which was her bad, but she still hates it when they shame her for waiting six months between haircuts or not wanting to lop off like 10 inches. She says it gives her panic attacks every time she goes for a haircut.
These days my hair looks fucking gorgeous, which it better, because I pay the equivalent of my monthly rent for it and endure epic "weave headaches" that require at least 4 Aleve to make a dent. I love my hair -- less than my child, but maybe a little more than my cat, who, let's face it, can be kind of an asshole. My hair has never woken me up at 4:30 am mewling for food.
But I've started to feel a little uncomfortable seeing the man who makes my hair look this gorgeous because he won't stop HAIR SHAMING me! First it was the flat-iron issue. Every time I come in for a trim or a retaping, he tells me my hair looks damaged and I need to stop flat-ironing it. And every time, I tell him I haven't used a flatiron since around 2005, but I get the feeling he doesn't really believe me.
Then we do this whole dance: Yes I'm conditioning. Yes, like you told me to. No, I don't know why my hair is so dry. No, I SERIOUSLY don't flat-iron.
Then I remind him that my hair went through several dramatic color changes including blonde in the span of a few months, he remarks on how horrible my ends look, and we can finally settle into the business of just getting my damn hair cut. It's really starting to grate on me. I feel like I'm eventually going to freak out and scream, "THIS IS JUST HOW MY HAIR LOOKS, OK?" or perhaps strangle myself with a single, silken hair extension.
My last visit was especially painful, as a combination of having a concussion and some stuff to do with my kid resulted in me waiting about 10 days longer than recommended to get my extensions retaped. "YOU WAITED TOO LONG," he bellowed at me, and then I had to endure at least a half-hour of chastising and sighing and "I don't know what I'm going to be able to do about this"es before he somehow managed to fix me up, only charging a little extra for some hair to replace the strands that were too damaged to re-use.
Am I a dick because I just want my hairstylist to be solutions-focused? It shouldn't matter if I'm coming in with a smelly garbage heap on top of my head, I'm paying your ass to fix it! I have so much free-floating guilt and anxiety in my life, I just really can't handle hair guilt on top of everything else.
But I genuinely like the guy and he does an amazing job, so maybe I should just suck it up and take my lumps? Have you experienced hair-shaming? Does it drive you crazy? Should I say something to him? (I am aware that by writing this article in a public forum, it's possible I kind of am saying something to him.)