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Why Getting Your Hair Cut Is a Form of Therapy

Posted: 20/09/2012 01:00

I loathed going to the hair dresser from an early age. I had darling silky curls till the age of 10 and then puberty and frizz kicked in. Cue the nerdy geeky look. After that I never managed to tame my mane. Straighteners, potions, blow dries. Nothing worked.

So my hair got longer and bushier. Hairdressers would weep when they saw the bird's nest before them and spend hours trying to comb out the tangles.

But the horror factor of staring in front of a mirror for hours has never left me.

A spiritual guru once told me that if you really want to know yourself look into your eyes in a mirror for 10 minutes. You will be able to see inside your soul.

Having to see yourself for longer than a five minute brush and go is a test in self-confidence. Everyone else looks at you all day long but you can avoid your face, your nose, ears, teeth and all other things that you don't like.

One hairdresser friend told me that some people stare at the ground or keep turning their head so I'm clearly not alone. Its as if you can't help see the ugly bits.

As a poodle-haired teen I thought I was bug ugly. I did have buck teeth and pebble glasses but the ugliness I saw was actually from deep within.

It's also true that I wanted the change in hairdo to trigger a change in me - happier, prettier, younger. Cutting hair can shift energy but that's skin deep. What's interesting is how you react to the change on the exterior.

The dynamic between the hairdresser and client (or more often 'victim') also makes the whole experience rather bizarre. I used to find it so hard to say what I wanted and more importantly what I didn't like afterwards.

Before our wedding last year one hairdresser ended up dyeing my hair too blonde and then convincing me that I was nothing without extensions. I looked more like Linsay Lohan.

Or another who was too busy gossiping that he forgot the dye and the crown went so red it looked like there was a squirrel sitting on it. In both cases I said nothing. I felt I'd been wronged but I sat there passively as if I had no voice. It seemed pointless to say anything as you can't turn back the clock, stick cut hair back on or soften the colour.

The final straw was in Dubai when I had the worst ever highlights that that made my hair as stripy as a tiger. Blonde, black, blonde, black. He didn't speak English but he understood once and for all that I wasn't happy.

After that I vowed never to be a sitting target ever again. I realised that I had to stop picking hairdressers who wanted to change me and that I had to stop giving my power away.

Hairdressing is an intimate, personal moment and its also one that defines your look. Your hair frames you and your face. You wouldn't let just anyone change the way your house looked like over night or let any Tom, Dick or Harry cut away at your garden. But somehow we let a random hairdresser chop away at our exterior decor without even thinking.

So I have just gone for the big old chop. I found someone I trusted - at the Ken Club for Parisian readers - and I am now cropped and bobbed. But mainly I like more what I see. Before the 'tadah' moment at the end left me feeling deflated. My ears looked too big, my skin too pale against the darker colour.

Now for haircuts and most things I have tried to adopt the well worn phrase that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". If your eye is all cynical and negative it won't see much beauty at all. I now stop comparing myself to the models in the mags splayed around and try and see the good stuff. I also ask for exactly what I want. I'd used to laugh at oldies flashing around photos of Jennifer Aniston who wanted that look. But at least photos are precise, and words can be vague. If you let the hairdresser take control they will project their image of you on to you.

Hairdressing is often the opposite of a beautifying moment and rather a minefield of emotions but sometimes very illuminating ones. Next time check out how you feel when you get your haircut. If you don't like what you see you might want to switch the hairdresser's chair for a therapist's.

 

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