My mom and I have always been very close, and so far have managed to escape most of the usual mother-daughter conflicts. However, when I was a pre-teen, my hair became a huge battleground between us.
My long, thick, wavy hair was my mother’s pride and joy. She delighted in curling and brushing it until it hung like smooth auburn silk, flowing in gentle waves down my back to my waist. Personally, I despised it. I desperately wanted my friend Lisa’s stick straight blonde page-boy, that framed her face perfectly and fit nicely underneath a baseball cap.
Then, there were the bangs. Oh, how I longed for those forehead covering bangs all the 60’s models wore, the kind that grazed the eyebrows and tickled the eyelashes. But no, my mother insisted on trimming my bangs high up on my forehead. “Why in the world do these girls let their hair hang down into their eyes?” she’d say, coming at me with those dreaded scissors. “Because it’s cool!” I wanted to scream. But, I was a good girl and kept my mouth shut, letting her trim away, all the while seething inside.
The last straw came in the form of a comment from one of my friends – the aforementioned Lisa, actually – who was describing a classmate in the mean -spirited way only 12 year old girls can.
“Her hair is so stupid!” she declared. “And her bangs are the worst! They’re so…” here she stopped and looked at me thoughtfully. “Well, I was going to say they’re so short, when I realized that yours are like that too. Why don’t you grow them out?”
The jig was up. Now my friends realized how totally un-cool my hair was.
“I want my hair cut!” I announced when I got home from school that day. “I want short hair, and I’m letting my bangs grow long.”
“You’re not cutting off that beautiful hair,” my mother answered. “Someday, you’ll be glad you have all that thick, wavy hair. You’re not cutting it.”
For once I was persistent. For days, weeks, months, I complained rudely every time we completed the hair washing/drying/curling ritual. Finally, she relented.
“Alright, you can cut it,” she said. “On one condition. Have your portrait done with long hair.”
GOD, if there was anything I hated worse than short bangs, it was having my picture taken. And a portrait would entail posing endlessly for a stranger. It was a mark of my determination that I agreed.
The portrait wasn’t too bad. It turned out so well, in fact, that the studio asked if they could hang it in their display window for the summer. It still hangs in my mother’s living room, a young girl dressed in the pale peach colored dress chosen by her mother, her long, dark tresses artfully arranged to lay smoothly down her back, grazing the bow tied at her waist. In her eyes is the slightest sly smile, knowing that with this portrait, she’s stepping into a world of her own choosing, independent from the wishes and tastes of her parents.
I got my haircut, and began a battle of my own with my hair, struggling to tame those pesky waves into the smooth, sleek looks so popular in the 60’s and 70’s. I’ve never had long hair again, much to my husband’s dismay. (Do all men love long hair, and if so, why?) Much as I love him, I’ll never let anyone dictate my hair style again. I fought that battle already – and won!
here are more hairy tales