I’ve only had my hair professionally cut a handful of times in my life—in my childhood household, a haircut for my straightheaded brother and I meant a quick straight-across snip. In junior high and high school I did the usual outsider-kid hair experiments: after years of being called “Winnie Cooper” because of my super straight middle-parted hair and long bangs, I had the bizarre idea that shaving my bangs off would solve the problem.
It certainly did, since old WC never spent five months uselessly trying to pin down inch-long new bangs that refused to do anything but stand up resolutely straight on top of her head. I was also into shaving about half my hair off the back of my head, what was that about? It seemed like the cool thing to do at the time.
In college I did the typical Women’s Studies’ major thing and chopped most of my hair off. I began bleaching it and dyeing it, a phase which lasted a few years, until one day I was merrily bleaching the hell out of it in order to dye it hot pink when clumps of my hair started coming out onto the comb I was using to distribute the bleach—my hair was weak as cornsilk from overbleaching. I resolved to keep it real from then on, and I pretty much did, with the odd pink or blue treat now and then. I happened to have lovely mermaid-blue hair when I graduated from college and began going on job interviews for a job that would tide me over while I was in cooking school. My first interview was at the Art Department at Simon and Schuster publishers. Though it was the art department, the office was in Rockefeller Center and had a fairly strict dress code. I knew I should have dyed my hair back to its natural brown, but the blue was really working it, so I went to St. Marks St and bought a cheapie Mary Tyler Moore-type flippy wig and wore that to the interview. I got the job, and sadly dyed my hair brown in time to start work.
Throughout my dyeing years, it never occurred to me to go to a professional. It seems terribly un-DIY to have someone else cut my hair, much less dye it. But in the spirit of supporting other small, artisanal businesses, last year I started going to my very first hairdresser. I wouldn’t call Sylvia from Androgyny Hair Design a hairdresser though. She works out of a crazy-quilt house she is constantly adding to and painting all sorts of amazing colors. If you’ve ever been to New Paltz, you probably know it: it’s right off the Rail Trail near Huguenot St—that crazy-colored house. You know it.
While she is waiting for my hair dye to set she sings me songs about making love to her girlfriend in Portuguese. She and I commiserate about the troubles of owning a purposefully small business in a world of Bigger is Better. In short: I adore her, and pretty much let her do whatever she wants with my hair. Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t really care how her hair is cut? I can make anything work as long as it’s long enough to tie back or shove under a scarf while cooking. Can I tell you a secret, internet? I like my hair. We’re pals. We work together.
These days I feel it’s a little bit hypocritical to be a vegan chef who would never use artificial dyes in her food but who runs around town with blue streaks in her black hair. But it’s wintertime and it’s always nice to have a change, right? And it’s good to stay honest by being a tiny bit of a hypocrite…right? I am large, I contain multitudes, after all.
Anyway, and in violation of everything I think a blog should be, here is my hair last week:
(except I don’t really wear my bangs in my eyes like that, I just wanted a record of how overly long they were)
I pretty much like it. Mostly black with just a little blue. My bangs look a little oily here because I put some crap in them in order to try to push them to the side in my usual vintage-y way, but they are a little too short. Anyway, my god this is humiliating, but it’s nice for myself to have a record of my hair, and why not share it with the world while I’m at it?
Sylvia didn’t do the streaks super close to my head, because I had told her about my overbleaching, head-scorching past experiences and said I didn’t care if they started 1/2″ down from my skull—who was going to think blue streaks were growing out of my head, anyway? I don’t get that. I’ll trade streaks that start lower for a head that doesn’t burn with bleach any day.
OK, done. Back to the business of revolution!