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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow

By Claire Jean

As far back as I can remember my hair was a source of embarrassment. Grownups would often make insensitive remarks and kids enjoyed making fun of my jet black, curly pile of unruly hair.

As expected, going to the beauty salon for a trim was never high on my list. Hair stylists, on occasion, would invite co-workers during the washing process to witness how the water flowed off my hair for several minutes before becoming completely saturated.

I could not wait to exit the place knowing full well that no matter what was said about or done to my hair, I did not come close to looking anything like those pictures of beautiful women showcased on the walls.

In my late teens, early twenties, I decided it was time to take control. I began using a straightening solution, not always easy to find back then. Sometimes I slept wearing a bathing cap and used empty Campbell soup cans as rollers. All worked well until I stepped outdoors and my hair’s natural form returned.

By the mid 1960s, my hair had grown quite long. The approach then was assigning my husband the task of placing a thin cloth on top of my hair that was spread out on the ironing board and cautiously iron away. This method seemed to work better than those previously tried and was also a bit more fun.

Fast forward several decades.

I still do not like going to the beauty salon, but for very different reasons. My hair today is short, dark brown (colored) and thin.

I see my hairdresser, Kate, about every five weeks for a trim. What should require a 20-minute time period usually stretches into 60 minutes since I go on a slow day, Tuesday, and Kate is quite a talker.

I never minded the extra time spent. I even looked forward to the stories and updates Kate eagerly shared since my last visit. But now, rather than relaxing while listening to Kate, I find I must remain focused to her every word so that I don’t appear disinterested or rude by looking sad when I should be laughing or vice versa.

While Kate is at work and I’m seated facing the mirror, not only am I reminded of the disappearance of what was once a full head of hair but besides the hair, or lack of it, am wondering when the age-related facial changes took place.

Obviously, they did not happen overnight. My recent cataract surgery just makes it seem that way.

Shouldn’t I have realized that if everything around me now is crystal clear that would also include that aging face staring back at me in the mirror at the beauty salon.

I guess I’m vainer that I thought.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Hello Claire Jean,

I recently had cataract surgery,too and darned if I didn't see the same thing in the mirror that you saw. Thinning hair!

My hair is the color of L'Oreal #23 Ash Blonde because that is what I dump over my head every couple of months.

Until I had the surgery both the amount of hair that I had and the color were OK. Not excellent, but OK. Then I went to that damned Eye Doctor and that spoiled everything.

Now that I can actually see, when I look in the mirror I wonder if I was better off with the old cloudy lenses which made me look blurry but cute, or the new ones that,unfortunately,tell the TRUTH!

Claire Jean-

Aren't we all glad we are still here to "see more clearly." Your sense of humor shines so beautifully, and I kinda think our group of oldies sees beneath external beauty.
Your writing style is beautifully done.

Claire Jean - Ah, the mirror. The bane of human existence! And cataract surgery to boot!

I often wonder why we humans (boys as well as girls) who struggle with our hair, don't just shave it all off. Then design a wig in the shape, color, and texture of our dreams. Think of the possibilities! - Sandy

Before I had my cataract surgery, my doctor very seriously told me that one side effect would be that I would age considerably. Then he smiled and advised staying away from mirrors after I got the new eyes. Very funny.

Your delightful hair story reminded me of a politically involved hairdresser I used to visit. Since I wear my hair quite short, and it's thin, it's important to cut 'just enough' and not 'too much'. Bald is not becoming. Unfortunately, when this stylist was on one of her soapboxes, she'd forget when to stop cutting. Sadly, I had to find someone who had a more settled view of her politics.

Hair Problems!! Ugh!! I envy those who have a hairstyle that works for them. My hair looks like a bad perm. Every time I go to a new hairdresser, they say, “You will lose part of this perm when I cut your hair.” The staff and other customers look at me with pity. Now someone cuts my hair in their home salon, cheaper and less stressful. It is disheartening to think of the time, money and aggravation spent on my hair. In my next life, I plan to get this under control much earlier!

Hair seems to be such a problem for many of us, especially after cataract surgery, but wearing a wig just doesn't seem a viable answer. What happens in a strong wind, or when your great grandchild pulls at your hair,or when you go swimming?

Your comments were a joy to read.

Thank you all!

How women bemoan their hair problems. I too who turned grey,then silver then white all before I reached 50! I coped as best I could until the white, then resorted to a colour rinse for 10 years. Look on the bright side, see yourself as others see you not just the outer crust but the rich warm mortal within.
Hey without the catact op you may not be able to be an elder story teller blogger..

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