I’ve been adjusting to life with bangs, as you’ll know if you read last week’s post about my new hairstyle. It’s definitely higher maintenance, which scared the living daylights out of me after I washed my hair for the first time and ended up with a disastrous pouf of frizzy hair and a short, curly, childlike fringe across my forehead. After flat-ironing it into submission and not feeling altogether pleased with the result, I complained to another mother during nursery school drop-off. Her response was enlightening: “Higher maintenance is sometimes better. I purposely cut my hair short so I’d be forced to do something with it instead of just tying it back in a ponytail.”
I left nursery school with a totally new opinion of my hair cut. Now is my opportunity to put in 15 much-needed minutes every three days in order to have great hair until I wash it again and repeat the cycle. So far, it’s been going well. I haven’t lost any steam yet and am dedicated about hauling out the irons (flat and curly) to create a natural-looking wavy hairdo that withstands the demands of ordinary family life, gym workouts, and winter hats.
On Saturday, however, I encountered a neighbour in the check-out line at the grocery store. Our exchange went something like this:
“Did you cut your hair?” she asked me.
“Yes, I got bangs.”
“Wow. WOW. It looks amazing. I hardly recognized you.”
“Thanks. Yeah, I like it — definitely different.”
“It makes such a difference, a huge difference. What a difference! Wow, that’s such an improvement over how it was before. I can’t believe the difference. You look really great. I like it so much…”
I was stammering around, trying to give whatever polite responses are usual, until the whole exchange seemed to get out of hand. I began to feel defensive of my old hairdo, which, up until then, I hadn’t thought was that bad, but this neighbour was causing me to second-guess it.
She kept going! “It’s very nice. Where did you get it done? Who did it? It looks so good. It fits your face perfectly.”
I paid and packed up those groceries so fast, I was almost a blur. I just wanted to get out of there. I raced home and demanded to my husband, “Was my hair really awful before?”
“Why?” (Not a positive start to the conversation.)
“Because I met our neighbour at the store and she wouldn’t shut up about the drastic improvement.”
“Well, I think it is improved.”
“Did my hair actually look awful before?”
“No, only sometimes, when you didn’t do it and just stuck it in a ponytail.” I was horrified. My own husband was telling me that my hair looked awful.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It didn’t bother me.” Back-pedalling? I think so. “Especially when you were just at home all day.” Ouch. So much for my preaching the importance of maintaining attractiveness while being a stay-at-home mom.
Oh well, what’s done is done. I can’t go back and have permanent supermodel hair to impress that neighbour — not that I really even care — but it’s always interesting to catch glimpses of other people’s opinions of us, isn’t it? Obviously I didn’t rate too highly in her hair department, but now I do. Hopefully I can stay there for a while yet, as long as I keep to that three-day schedule.