Tuesday, December 04, 2007

do it yourself

I'm accustomed to getting odd reactions when referencing homebirthing or homeschooling. In my little world, neither are uncommon, though they both veer off track of the mainstream. But for every dopey comment some random grocery store checker has given me, for every pointed question an extended family member has posed, for every dropped jaw response from a passing acquaintance, I get all that and even more confused disbelief should I happen to mention home haircuts.

And what I always want to say (but don't because I'm not so confrontational in person), is Lighten Up, People! I take scissors and snip off my hair. I'm not talking a bathroom open heart surgery or some complicated medical procedure here (okay, so sometimes I have successfully closed a gaping cut with regular household super glue and avoided a trip to the emergency room), I'm talking hair. And you know what they say about hair: it'll grow back. What's the big deal?

i cut my own hair

I've been avoiding this task for months. I admit that making an appointment and having someone else cut my hair would be lots faster; it takes me the better part of an hour, usually, to do it myself. I start at the sides, the parts I can see easily, and just start cutting. I don't wet it first, I just grab and cut, grab and cut. And then I reach behind my head and do the bulk of the back by feel. When it's time for the fine trimming, I use a hand mirror to see what I've missed and do my best to even it all out.

In the last ten years, I've had only a few salon haircuts. Not many but enough to learn this: I am never as satisfied with my haircut as it cost me to have it done. No offense to any hair stylists out there, but I'm never thirty dollars (or forty or fifty, or, add some color and make it a whole hundred) dollars pleased. I usually come home and wince at my reflection, wishing I'd better articulated what I wanted. Or I come home and have to take off a little more, or even up the sides.

But when I do it myself, it can be a work in progress. Whoops, missed a spot. Unless I get a sudden urge to bring back the feminine rat tail, whenever I notice, I just grab the scissors and whack it off. Which is what I'd do if I found a tricky longer lock after a salon cut, but when I do it myself, I just shrug, I don't feel guilty about having paid someone else to do what I have to double check and fix at home.

And then, because I'm not paying someone else to do it, I'm not paying someone else to do it. I won't say that I'm forty dollars richer, because it's not like I'm building a tidy little nest egg out of my unspent haircut budget (which is to say, of all the things money is set aside for at our house, haircuts ain't it). It's a little like spending so much time at the goodwill and then getting sticker shock in a department store. It's hard to pay for brand spankin new retail when you're used to secondhand prices. Because I've cut my own hair for so long, even when I put it off and put it off and think wistfully how quick and convenient it would be to just walk in someplace and have it done for me, I can't do it.

You know that sinking feeling you get when you're sitting in a salon swivel chair, your arms tucked in your lap with that scratchy cape velcro'd around your neck, and you look down and see your hair all over the floor? And you think, what have I done? Do you get that feeling? I always did. But when I'm doing it myself, it's a little triumphant. Like, look at me being so bad ass I take the scissors to my own hair. Ha! Take that you straggley, neglected pieces. You've been weighing me down and aging me a decade with all your straggley, neglected straggley-ness and I've had enough. Snip.

snip snip

It takes decent scissors (though if I'd been writing about this a few years ago, I'd have told you my tool of choice was the handiest pair of dull craft scissors; it's been fairly recently that I invested in a pair of sharp haircutting shears from the salon supply store), a good chunk of time and a little moxie.

And then, just like that, I feel like my old self again. Only maybe even a little better, because cutting your own hair builds confidence. You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, your hair looks terrific!

shorter and swingier


Angelina said...

I am always surprised by my growing number of friends who cut their own and their children's hair. To me it seems so difficult to see what to do with the big mop of hair and I have no clue how to get the effect I want. It has honestly never occurred to me to cut my own hair.

But I will say that I have not been happy with salons EVER. It has become a thing I dread. The last two cuts I got were good cuts from my friend Lisa E. who is quite good.

The cut you just gave yourself looks fantastic. Very chic, if you don't mind my saying. I happen to be in love with most bobs and for me, it's always either long hair or bobs. Nothing else. No shag for me.

Anyway, what seems a cinch to you is, for someone like me, a challenge not unlike climbing mount Everest. I'm pretty certain I'd make myself as unhappy as the hair stylists out there have.

I have hair angst. That's my real problem. Perhaps I should just take a pair of good shears to my head and see what happens. Maybe it would liberate me.

Kirsten said...

that's a dang good hair cut. the whole picture actually. that shirt is awesome and the lip color is perfect;)

i've had my man cut my hair, and i've buzzed my hair all the way off, and i can cut bangs, but cutting a mid-length or bob haircut all on my own feels beyond my abilities. but i've got split ends baaaaad.

Dawn said...

Oh you're hair looks fabulous! I can't cut hair. Brett sometimes cuts mine but the older I get the more home haircuts look like, well, home haircuts. I think it's because I'm losing my curl the older I get. :( Now my hair is just some weird texture of not curly, not straight, awkward. But YOU look adorable!!!!

omy said...

i love this piece of writing! i did home haircuts for about three years and i agree with your sentiments. i recall one time having sat in the salon chair for the better part of TWO hours (this was not for color, mind you, just a cut! and my hair was already SHORT!) and then leaving, sixty dollars poorer, and feeling oh, so ripped off! and disappointed! and thinking how i could have done a better job myself.

and so, for several years i did. now, since i am growing it out, i haven't cut my hair for six or seven months, and i'm long overdue for a trim. but i feel like i don't know how to cut longer hair. i guess maybe it's time to take the plunge. :)

april. said...

angelina- i have hair issues, too. in fact, after i posted this, i thought i really should have written more about how cutting your hair tweaks our cultural paradigm of women's beauty. (say what?) i hate the process of going to a salon and handing my self-esteem over to someone and wondering if i'll get that fragile little package, wrapped up in the scraps of positive feelings about myself that i've collected over the years, intact. but when i own the process myself, even when i screw up (which, believe me, i have) it's not all mingled up with what someone else thinks of me.

thanks, kirsten. oh, just give it a try! i always tell myself that if i screw up, i'll just buzz it short and rock that look like i meant it.

dawn, thank you! if you were to get right up close to the layered part of the back of my head, it might look more like a home cut, but that's okay with me.

oh, omy, you do a great diy haircut! you can totally keep it up with your longer hair.

Lisa said...

I agree with Angelina about diy for me. Lawrence has been asking me for years to cut his and I can't get over that big lump of not knowing what to do with this head of hair and the scissors. I do the little girls fine, but Lawrence needs layering and I can't seem to wrap my head around doing my own hair. Too scary...On the other hand, I do feel that it is just hair and I admire people who feel comfortable doing it themselves, and I have gone long periods of time growing it out and when I do cut it, I wait for a free cut for Locks of Love or find a half off coupon for Great Clips, because even if they don't do a great job, it will grow out! Since I don't have high expectations from them, I am usually pretty happy with what I get and I'm never out more than $10.

Your cut looks great!

april. said...

lisa, thanks! i definitely approached this job with much trepidation when i started giving it a try a few years ago. brian does his own hair most of the time with clippers. i hate clippers. i help him get his neck straight. but i wouldn't really want to try to cut someone else's hair (well, freya's had two haircuts ever and i did those, but they were just simple, blunt hack jobs) because the whole thing about doing it yourself is that you can feel it, you can feel where it feels heavier or longer or flippy.

Deb said...

You know I'm right there with you on homeschooling and homebirthing, but I just can't get into the home haircuts. I've done it a few times on my own hair, but it always ended up uneven or choppy. But YOU, you look gorgeous!

Linda said...

This is a great post. I feel exactly the same way. I've been cutting my own hair for twenty-some years now. Granted, I'm not going for a tailored effect and if I was it would make sense to have someone who could actually see the back of my head do it.