The average woman spends ten days a year perfecting her hair, the newspapers report. That works out to about 40 minutes a day, which, to my mind, sounds pretty reasonable, given the efforts I have seen around me for years in the name of hair care.
There are some in our large group of family and friends who are blessed with enviable manes, literally their crowning glory — but do they know that?
Not a chance.
When they look in the mirror, they see wild pokers instead of a straight cascade of flyaway baby-soft down that invites ruffling by whoever passes. Or they glare at waves and curls that appear to them like a woolly mammoth’s unmanageable and frozen solid growth or Medusa’s serpents that are going to freeze them dead. Or their eyes alight on that one grey strand that flashes at them or the infinitesimal patch of scalp that glistens and draws attention to the ‘sparse growth’ in that space.
In short, they can never be impartial or sensible about the top of their heads — they can never be happy about the grass on their side of the fence.
So the one with the straight hair decides that she needs to use curlers every night — or better still, slap on those chemicals and have a regular ‘perm’ so that she need not go through the nightly torture of finding a comfortable position in which to sleep. One trip to the salon, or if she is chary about that, then a home perm would also do.
And the one with the thick meandering of waves decides to get her hair straightened out — perhaps blow-dried under an expert’s hand each time her hair is washed — or when that proves too much trouble, she goes in for a flat iron or hot comb or a combo and finally for keratin treatment or whatever is done to seal the straightening and make it last longer!
There are also some in our group who decide that they will not overreach themselves: Just make sure they have ‘designer’ haircuts, get the best of stylists to tell them which shape and style and length will suit their faces and wardrobes and work and hygiene habits and when they have spent their afternoon under the scissors or clippers or razor, they come back glowing, with their hair held back attractively with a clip, just waiting for compliments to be showered on them.
They twirl: “You’ve got a new outfit,” we say. They lift one cheek and then the other to give a good view of both sides of their head: “You’ve had a facial,” we shout. They do it again, turning around as well — “You’ve bought a new clip,” we are sure. They stomp their feet as Rumpelstiltskin would in anger: “New shoes,” we chorus. In despair, they shout: “I have had a haircut — I have a new hair style — done at ... (whoever is the most classy in town). Some of us crowd around to appease her ego, others, less obliging, say loud enough for everyone to hear: “How do you expect us to see a hair cut if you have tied up your hair?”
Coming up with a winning formula for one’s hair is truly a difficult proposition ... Perhaps the one who did it best was the one who did nothing at all. Maybe she knew somewhere deep down that when her time came, radiation and chemo would see off whatever she had, so it was better not to preen or try to make perfect, but just let it be the way it was given.
And enjoy it while it lasts.