Sunday, July 20, 2008


I am a slave to hair. There was this line from a movie in which a young Amish girl tells her "English" guest that a woman's hair is her crowning glory. I grabbed hold of that line and never let go.

I wear my hair long. Longer than the fashionistas say women my age should wear it. I don't listen to fashionistas. My hair falls between my shoulder blades, although I have worn it much longer, and I miss it. I do not color it. I keep it trimmed, or rather Stacey-the-Incredible keeps it trimmed.

On the days that I choose to sleep in a bit, I shampoo (twice), condition, mousse, blow dry with a diffuser, and wear it naturally curly. On the days that I feel industrious, however, there is much more work involved. Shampoo (twice), condition, blow it straight, section it off, spritz it, iron it straighter, and apply hair wax to fend off the humidity. Humidity is my enemy.

Then there's the hair on the rest of my body. Shaving, plucking, trimming... one simply cannot be too smooth. I heard Oprah say once that she believed the little hairs on her chin were spring-loaded - hiding beneath the skin's surface until some time during the day, when they burst forth in all their glory. And you never have a pair of tweezers handy at that time.

I have two daughters. They have hair, too, of course. As dancers, they must wear a variety of hairstyles for performances. They still need help with this. I happen to know how to fix hair. The Little One's hair falls to her fanny. That is a lot of hair to twist into a ballet bun.

The Not-So-Little One is hypersensitive (see previous post). Every morning she brandishes the hair brush and entreats me to brush her shoulder-length hair. I comply because it is just faster than fighting with her (can I hear an "amen" from all you parents out there?). It wasn't until her recent visit to the occupational therapist that I learned she has weakness in her hands. That would further explain why she prefers not to brush it herself. Every morning she cries real tears and shouts and stomps her feet as I tease out the tangles as gently as humanly possible.

Hair has an annoying habit of falling out. I lose a ton of hair with every shampooing and brushing. So do my girls. I constantly sweep long brown hair off the bathroom floor and do my best to keep it from clogging up the drains.

I have two dogs and four cats. You guessed it - more hair. The vacuum and swiffer stand at the ready. We all take part in the battle against pet hair. The losing battle.

You may ask why I allow myself to be controlled by something that could easily be overcome with a pair of scissors. The truth is that hair is a big part of our human identity. I know very few people who really don't give a rat's patootie what their hair looks like. Most of us care quite a bit.

Is this obsession with hair pathological? According to the DSM-IV, a condition is only considered a disorder if it causes distress. Okay, okay, I admit it - I do occasionally experience hair-induced distress. I guess I'm just not ready to let go. Excuse me while I take the dog to the groomer.

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