It’s shear madness to be so passive

It's shear madness to be so passive

Dianne Scott special to The Star
The Toronto Star 07-21-2007


A brown helmet. It looks like somebody plunked a brown helmet on my head. With my white skin and blue-grey eyes, my hair looks artificial. Like a bad wig. Or early Halloween.

I haven't had brown hair. Ever. I was a tow-headed toddler, then darkened to an ash- blonde adolescent. When my hair colour deepened to light brown as an adult, I began streaking it (and I have been highlighting it or colouring it ever since).
With my fair complexion, brown hair makes me look sallow and tired. But what irks me the most is that my new gladiator look comes with a $285 price tag.

Yes, I did ask the hairdresser to dye my hair back to its natural colour to get rid of the brassiness from over-colouring. Then she was going to highlight my hair - to capture the sun-streaked look of my adolescence.

My last request before going under the hairdryer was "I want to look blonde in the end, okay?"

After my hair was dyed and highlighted and washed, I resumed my seat in the stylist's chair and stared mutely at the mirror. At my brown hair.

Did I protest? Gasp audibly? Express my disappointment?

I didn't say a word. When she cut my hair. When she styled it. As I handed over my credit card.

When the hairdresser suggested $50 worth of hair product to help maintain my colour (brown!), I smiled and nodded.

What am I, some sort of Stepford Wife for stylists?

I profess to be a professional, educated woman, a feminist to boot, and I am struck silent by the omniscient power of the hairdresser.

I watched meekly as she critically assessed my face shape, skin colour (and wallet thickness) and went to work. Combine my passivity with my insecurities about my looks and a need to people-please, and I am the perfect patsy.

I don't begrudge paying for regular haircuts, the occasional pedicure, for clothes that are complimentary. For remaining a blonde.

It's just that the price tag has gotten so egregious, so exorbitant, that it borders on the unethical. My latest bill could support my foster child in Nepal for almost a year.

Here's my plan. First, change salons. I can try one of the discount chains or a beauty school or a cheaper salon in my area. My husband suggested visiting his barber (although sitting under the hair drier dripping hair goo surrounded by men reading sports magazine is not really appealing).

But before my next appointment, I have homework. I will practise the following sentences out loud

"Could you cut it shorter, please?"

"It needs more highlights."

"This is not what I wanted."

And when the stylist wraps the plastic bib around me, I will chant this mantra under my breath "I am the client. I pay for this service. I deserve a hairstyle I like."

Chant with me if you like. You know who you are.

Dianne Scott is a writer living in Toronto.

Illustrations/Photos:
shutterstock illustration

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