For a lot of us, hair defines a person. It is our vanity and downfall but it is our pride and joy. The thought of going bald, going grey, or not having the “perfect” hair worries us and often sends us into a manic stress, researching and buying anything to make it better. Even for women who tie their hair up or hide them under wigs and scarves, this is a sort of vanity. We are embarrassed by its unruliness and hide them. We are told by religion to hide our real hair because it’s sacred. We try to fit into society by wearing a wig something that’s not ours so that we don’t stand out.
For a Southeast Asian woman, I am defined by my skin first and then my hair. I don’t have light skin so vainly obsessed over by society. I don’t have silky waterfall-like hair that moves like a curtain swayed by the wind. Indeed, my hair is thick, voluminous, wavy, often frizzy, and shapes to however you want it to shape like Play-doh. Oh, what a disaster when I compare myself to my mother with her beautiful light skin and straight black hair. And now that I’m 30, genetics deem that I have grey hair, especially around my temple. Why is it that society says men with gray hair look great but with women, they tell her, “you’re getting old”?
When I was in my twenties (not long ago), I spent hundreds of dollars getting the magical Japanese perms, which only last a year. I dyed my hair, damaging it, creating split ends galore! When I was upset with my hair, I would knot it up in a bun or braid it. I didn’t really want to think too much about it, especially when I know I have a long work day ahead of me.
But hair isn’t just vanity.
In Cambodia, when a couple gets married, there’s even a tradition called “Cutting of the hair” ceremony. It signifies change. It is saying, “time to move on with new roots”.
It must have psychologically engrained itself in me because whenever I go through a big change, which always happens to be my job or a bad breakup, I find myself cutting my hair. Never by myself, of course. I spend a lot of research finding a good salon. Hair represents a person. I want to make sure that whatever new cut I get represents the new changes I’m looking forward to in my next life path.
My hair is my vanity. But it’s a representation of who I am, what I had, and what I hope to become. It’s like the saying, don’t let the clothes wear you. So like hair, don’t let hair wear you, you should wear the hair loud and proud.
So if you’re ever in Astoria, looking for a salon for that big life change or just if you wanna doll up, I tried Gigi’s and got a stylist called Anna, who has been cutting hair for over 15 years. It’s a good track record for someone who’s going to be holding a sharp object near your head.