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Cherchez la femme: Hair crimes
by Juliana Elo
Issue 3
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Tired of my face in the mirror, one day I decided to cut my long hair short. I go to the hairdresser and ask if they have time to cut my hair straightaway but they don’t, so I go back home. The day after, coming from school, I pass in front of the hair salon. I go inside and ask if they could cut my hair, but the hairdressers are busy. The receptionist recognises me from the day before and asks if I wouldn’t prefer to set time. I don’t. It would spoil the feeling of a spontaneous haircut; it has to be decided on the same day. So, I go home and wait the whole weekend.

On Monday morning, I decide it again. Monday mornings are perfect for spontaneous haircuts because the hair salons are considerably emptier. A hairdresser is free. The hairdresser asks how I want it and I say short. Short and up. I want everything up. She looks at my long straight hair and smiles. She doesn’t seem to believe me.

I sit on the chair, she puts the apron on me and I smile at her. She smiles confused and asks again what I want. Trying to be clearer, I change the order of the words: up and short. She asks if I’m sure. I’m sure. An attendant leaves the desk and comes to watch. The hairdresser essays a movement with the scissors and asks again if I’m sure. I’m sure. She leaves the scissor and takes a razor. She gathers my hair into a ponytail in one hand, the other hand holds the razor, but her eyes are fixed on my eyes in the mirror. I smile: Go on! She takes a deep breath and cuts the ponytail off. That’s when I think: Oh, my God! What am I doing?

I start repeating mentally: hair grows. Especially mine grows so fast! Moreover, my hair was so irritatingly boring, I have nothing to lose. I look better with short hair, don’t I? Mom always said so, but she also used to say I look great in the yellow frilled bikini. Oh…hair grows, hair grows…I see my hair falling on the floor, a lot of hair.

Another hairdresser stops her work to watch. What is going on? Doesn’t she trust her colleague? Oh, my God…what is possibly happening back there? I can’t see! I feel the fresh air on my nape. There’s no way out. But what if I would use the long hair locks from the front to make a ponytail and cover the hole on my nape? Don’t be ridiculous, no haircut could look worse than that.

The hairdresser cuts the locks from the sides. Ok, so I’ll be here till the end. She cuts the front. I ask her not to make it too short. She knows, I said it already. I tell her my hair should be longer from the sides and straight on the nape… not to “fray” too much because it already has too much volume. The hairdresser smiles, she knows what she’s doing. She’s the hairdresser, not me! She raises the hair from the top of my head and asks how short she should cut it. How am I supposed to know? She’s the hairdresser! There are now two attendants standing by.

Forty minutes later, she gives the final touches to the cut. She looks at me and I force a smile. My cheek muscles are tired of smiling at the scared attendants. The hair doesn’t look the way I wanted, but that’s my fault for not being able to explain it right in Finnish - I don’t want to make the poor girl feel guilty. Her colleagues are watching. It was already too much stress for her today. She blows my hair dry and it starts looking more like what I had in mind. She spends eighteen minutes making a hairline, arranging the front. Nervously, she asks how I like it. I mess up everything and smile: I love it. I’m happy as can be, but she doesn’t smile back.

I stand up ready to face the world. The other hairdressers and clients are all looking at me while go to pay the bill. The attendants don’t smile anymore. They all have funeral faces. I leave my hair there; they can bury it if they want to. I’m happy like this. I go back home and next time I go to school, just in case, I take a bandana with me.

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