I was reading “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” to the kids the other night when we came across a bit of a gender stereotype:“Brush! Brush! Brush! Brush!Comb! Comb! Comb! Comb! Blue hair is fun to brush and comb.All girls who like to brush and comb should have a pet like this at home.”“What about the boys?” I thought. “Can’t they have a pet like this?”Then it occurred to me that, as a child, not only was I the typical girl who longed for the blue-coiffed pet, but I was also the object of my friends’ hair-salon make-believe.I had waist-length blonde hair that other little girls were constantly asking to play with. Now that I’m grown up, none of my friends try to play salon anymore, but I spend a disproportionate amount of time (and money) fussing with my hair.When it comes to gender stereotypes, it’s the men who are typically teased for their big-boy toys: fast cars, power tools, bikes.But it’s not really fair for men to be the target of all the teasing. While most big-boy toys cost thousands of dollars, I have probably spent the price of a Jet Ski trying to recreate those blonde locks of my youth, alternately growing them out and chopping them off as soon as they’re long enough to gather into a ponytail. (By the way, the Dr. Seuss creature’s hair is roughly four times the size of its body. Only in the 1980s, after watching “Steel Magnolias” and one too many Poison videos, did I attempt that kind of volume.)While my hair is no longer big, it is still, basically, a toy. After my older son was born, I decided on a whim to give myself a haircut. We’re not talking about a trim. I attempted full-on, all-over layers. Talk about hair-salon make-believe! To make matters worse, I purchased two packages of white-chocolate hair dye (my hair is still pretty voluminous) and attempted to go blonde. Again. The result was a shade of light orange that made me look at home among the stacks of Dr. Seuss books.My husband’s hair is easy. No. 2 guard on the sides, No. 5 on top, hairline and eyebrow trim: done. I cut his hair the same way once a month, and he never asks for anything different. I envy his contentment.Sadly, all the money we’ve saved by cutting Phil’s hair at home can be blown in just one of my trips to the salon. Although I am not graying (thank God), I still come out with a color treatment that is so close to my natural hair color that it may as well have its own storybook title: “The Emperor’s New Highlights.”I finally convinced myself that I really wanted a pixie cut and – worse – that I could achieve it at home with the same set of clippers I use on Phil.To test that theory, I cut a small strip of hair at the nape of my neck with the biggest guard in the kit. It actually wasn’t bad, but I didn’t have the courage to do the whole thing. Instead, I caved and made a salon appointment.“Are you sure you want to cut it that short?” the stylist asked, rummaging around in her cart for the razor. “I mean, I don’t want you crying in my chair.”“Don’t be silly,” I assured her. “You don’t cry in the chair. You cry in the car afterwards.” I am a big girl, after all.I did not drive home crying, but the reaction was definitely mixed once I got there.“You look like a cool girl,” my 6-year-old son opined.“You look like a man,” my daughter said, eyeing me as if she were unsure whether she now had two daddies.So much for gender stereotypes. Maybe I should just leave my hair alone and start saving for a Jet Ski.
Thursday, Mar. 07, 2013
Indulging in hair-salon make-believe
Erica Batten's new hair style got mixed review at home. COURTESY OF ERICA BATTEN