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Therapist, Confidante, Beauty Consultant

The disloyalty of a haircut by another stylist

I have been loyal to hairstylists over the years because of our relationship, not the haircut. I was reminded of this silly allegiance when my stylist of the last several years was unavailable for two weeks. I made an appointment with someone else at the shop— and there my stylist was! Cutting someone else’s hair. I acknowledged my urgent need, and her lack of available appointments, and she nodded.

The new-to-me stylist provided the same cut — but a little too short, not shaped enough. Nobody else might notice, but it wasn’t quite right.

I have stayed loyal to hairstylists because of the following reasons:

1. Deb had twin sons the same age as my boy. She left her employer, to open her own shop. I followed. She would confess to me her aggravations with various management requirements, and the failures of the beauticians who rented chairs in her shop. We compared notes on age development issues with our boys, their sports, and the teams’ parents. She freely dispensed advice.

2. Deb closed her shop after a few years and rented a chair at another place. I went a few times, but the location was further away and a pain to get to during high-traffic times. Although I will follow a stylist, convenience has its limits. Besides, I didn’t always love her cuts. I did love her patter.

I moved to a smaller city and was referred to Teresa, a bubbly blonde with a Farah Fawcett hairstyle. This was thirty years past the Farrah Fawcett look. The building was owned by the salon’s head, an alcoholic with scissors. Bunny’s Bar was attached to the salon and was the other occupant of the building. You could get a drink and then settle in for a haircut. Now call me old-fashioned, but I did not think drinking while cutting was a good idea– for either party in the transaction.

4. My stylist was amazed by my stories of international travel and asked for one of the political signs I had in my car’s back seat, to anger her conservative father-in-law. I was amazed by her stories of family dysfunction — she had three children by different fathers and different custody arrangements. I’m not sure she had been out of the county.

One day the salon owner was belligerently drunk, and my stylist whispered to me she was leaving the location as soon as possible, and that she was sorry for the disruption.

5. I followed her to her new shop, again, not because she was such a great stylist (Farah Fawcett and all) but because I was loyal. Going to another stylist is cheating, and you feel like you are cheating. Besides, we amused each other. I ran into her occasionally around town and would feel disloyal if I switched who cut my hair.

6. There is something about being shampooed, scalp massaged, and sitting before a mirror covered in a waterproof shroud with your head popping through, exposed, that is vulnerable. My concerns about beauty only surface here. We’ve all had bad haircuts, and slinked around for weeks afterward, waiting for hair to grow.

7. I acquired one of my best friends after a bad haircut. I was in school, and she advertised cheap haircuts by coming to your dorm room. She had been trained as a stylist, and she made money to support her student days by booking haircuts.

8. I was recovering from a new Big City haircut. I had told the stylist “Give me something current. Use your imagination.” The chopped, oddly layered do was terrible. My friend still recounts how terrible it was as she tried to fix it and informed me it would take several months to grow out completely. Forty years later, we are still friends. The friendship probably progressed from the confessions of insecurity, a new student in a new school in a new city, and she reciprocated.

9. When I was unemployed, I went to the Aveda Institute and waited for a cheap haircut from a student. I loved seeing the weird haircuts students tried on each other, multi-colored hair with half the head shaved, and lots of piercings. They would tame down if they got a job in a mainstream salon, and I was there to get a mainstream cut for them to get practice.

10. I tried going to an Aveda Salon for a while, but I felt uncomfortable in the upscale decor and the personnel kept changing. I’ve found my comfort zone in a funky small city shop, where I can get my cut from an established stylist. Where I can be loyal, most of the time.

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  1. SingingFrogPress
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    This is my second read, and I love this one. Makes me remember my past hair cutters and all the reasons I stayed with or left them, and my current one. There is a wonderful intimacy that happens between hair stylists and their customers. Thanks for this.

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