I grew up with the usual insecurities that girls grow up with, my looks, height, skin tone, body mass etc, but not my hair! Oh no! I was born with a head of luxurious, full-bodied, bluish black, shiny hair. My mother decided to increase the volume and beauty of it by shaving off my head five times in my childhood. I had no say, of course, but had to suffer in silence in school when girls teased me about my shining, bald head! But I did have the utmost satisfaction of informing her, as I got older and wiser that shaving heads did nothing to grow one’s hair any thicker! Don’t fight me on that one, I am not going to hear it!
My mother was very proud of my hair. She would tell anyone who listened how people crowded around me in hair salons complimenting the thickness of it and how they wished they had hair like mine. I said in my mind, ‘You can have it! Take it all!’ I, the black-haired Rapunzel, was not happy with my headful of hair at all. I had to wash it, brush it, detangle it….and I have already mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I am inherently lazy!
I kept my hair long because even the thought of cutting it short was somewhat sacrilegious in my extended family, ‘What? You want to cut off that beautiful hair! People would die to get hair like you!’ So I kept it long in a careless topknot on my head!
I met my husband and quite predictably, he loved the hair despite my exaggerated eye rolls and long sighs. When my daughter was born, she liked to clamp her little fists around my long earrings and pull with all her might. I got rid of earrings. Then she targeted my long hair! Finally, I found a credible reason to get rid of it. Don’t want the baby to put my hair in her mouth now, do I? On a whim, I went and chopped it all off. I will never forget Sean’s face when he saw me that day! He recovered quickly and said I looked great, whatever I wanted to do with my hair was simply fantastic. I look gorgeous either way! What can I say, I got a good one!
I asked him to back me up when I faced my mother with the new do. As soon as my mother saw me, her face fell. She couldn’t talk for a few seconds. Good thing I was an adult, a married woman and a new mother, or else I would have been grounded till kingdom come. When she got her speech back she turned to her baby granddaughter and said, ‘Now you have two daddies!’ Interestingly enough, my mother sports a very stylish page-boy hairstyle. Sean, my knight in shining armor, came to my rescue as usual. He gave this classic line to my mom, ‘She loves your look so much, she wanted to look just like you!’ I gave him a gratified look which said, ‘I knew there was a reason why I married you!’
I visited Kolkata with my super short haircut, only to be reprimanded severely by my uncles, aunts, grandparents. In india, long hair is a sign of beauty and I did away with that! In fact, a well meaning neighbor while lamenting my decision came right out,’Why did you do this? That was your only sign of beauty!’ Sean and I laughed so hard and appreciated the lady’s forthrightness!
We were living in India then, and I couldn’t withstand the pressure any longer. I let my hair grow back. Life got busy, I didn’t have much time to take care of it, it was either pulled in a ponytail or tied it on top of my head while I raised kids and held the fort. Then I started noticing long strands of gray! And that was the last straw! I was not going to go around with long salt and pepper hair. Some women carry it off well, unfortunately, I am not one of them!
I turned forty and made a momentous decision. I will wear my hair short for the rest of my life! I did just that and this time my husband declared that he loved my short hairstyle. What else could he do, poor guy! That was all I needed. My mother, miraculously, came around and said I looked fine with short hair! Oh, the joy! I feel liberated and free from the long tresses which I had to carry around unwillingly for a major part of my life. Friends from India still try to exert pressure by saying long hair gave me a softer look, short hair makes me look ‘stern’! Or “You looked so much better with long hair, please grow it back!”I always threaten them that if they don’t back off, I will write a blog on my hair and make them read it. I have done good on my threat. So there….