Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Short Hair and Claire Underwood

It's my grown-up haircut. I can't imagine having long hair again.

-Robin Wright

Hair is a powerful thing for most women, especially for those who wear it long.  I've had mine at many lengths, though not past my shoulders since I was about nine.  I've chopped it off several times in my life, always, in retrospect, at moments of transition, and more than once it's been regrettable.

This time was definitely Claire Underwood's fault.  Like anyone else who watches House of Cards, I am mesmerized by her style and elegance, and I admire Robin Wright, who plays her, for refining the look. Over the years I have admired women I've seen on the street who pull off shorter hair with panache. They just look, in the era of beachy waves, so distinct. The problem with going this length is that, in the wrong hands, it very often says less "I am effortlessly chic" than "I have completely given up".


The first time I did it was in seventh grade. All the girls at my new school had this sort of mushroomy Dorothy Hamill thing going on, so I did it, too. It didn't make the girls like me any better, and not that anyone looks good in seventh grade, but had my parents not kept my school picture, I would have burned it.  Actually, I would have burned every picture of me through the end of high school, save for a brief pageboy phase. Perms would follow. I was aiming for sophisticated, but the record shows me resembling an alarmed sheep. 

Then was the college, won't-it-be-edgy-if-my-roommate-cuts-my-hair phase. Despite my adherence to earrings and lipgloss, this style rendered me dateless for the better part of a year. After another sheep phase, I was back to the pageboy, this time with heavy bangs from discount haircuts. 

Reinvention again came with motherhood. Two months after I had my first baby, I went straight to frumpy mummy. The move from Toronto to Texas with this bad pixie got me plenty of pitying looks, and by the time I was pregnant with our son two years later, it was time to go through the painful growing-out phase.  Despite being with child and managing with little clips and plenty of product, I felt beautiful throughout, a reflection of what I would feel as soon as my baby boy arrived. His smile made me feel like the prettiest girl in the world. By the time he was a year old, I had a bob and a pretty good look going on.

Unless she is Halle Barry, a forty year-old divorced woman cannot be going about with minimal locks, or so I was told by my follically-blessed girlfriends. So at that juncture, long I went, later with the requisite waves. (No extensions, in adherence with my personal ban on after-market parts.) Along with ditching the sale jeans at Old Navy for high-end denim--an expensive habit I adopted permanently and unapologetically--I was soon spending Real Housewives amounts of time on my mane.  When I met T, I was severely jet-lagged, but was wearing my J. Brand skinnies, and had definitely done my hair. 

Fast forward to a solid relationship and my first born leaving the nest. When telling her how besotted I was with Claire's style, she asked if I wasn't scared. It grows back, I countered.  That night, I draw T into the Underwood's web. "Isn't she gorgeous?" I ventured. T agreed. "Even with that hair?" He thought so.  Scales tipped. The night before I was to do it, we went out and sat at a nice bar for dinner.  "Would you still ask for my number if cut it off?" Babe, he said, I'm not in love with your hair.

Unlike previous attempts, this time I have a close relationship with a talented group of stylists. The folks at Lux Machine coached me through it, and by the time I was shorn of a good five inches, I had a support group. It felt like everyone in the joint was looking at me with admiration.  No small thing on the west side of Fort Worth.

Reviews have ranged from OMG, I love it to, "I see you cut your hair off" to not noticing at all. T adores it, but I think the man could love me headless, such is the generosity of his heart.

For me, it's been liberating, though I've had my moments. Gloria, owner of Lux, assured me I could come in for a tweak, which I've done. Again, the support has been fabulous. I think I might have finally found the equivalent of a black top and jeans, my sartorial go-to for many a year now.  When I walk by a window and see my reflection, my thought is not, that woman needs some volumizing gel but, wow, chic.  I'm maybe finally at the age where I can feel sexy on my own terms.  And I certainly haven't given up.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you. As always, you write so well and with such panache. I'll look more closely at the haircut Tuesday.