"For years I had my hair parted down the middle in a ponytail, tucked down around the sides... Well, I went and cut the bangs, and I've been wearing them ever since. They say it's my trademark." Bettie Page, pinup girl
What is it with little girls' hair? And why do moms seem to care so much?
I've seen 12-year-olds with way-too-preschoolerish looking bows and ribbons in their hair and then I see 3-year-olds with more sophisticated, high maintenance haircuts than Rihanna.
I see evidence that some little girls play beauty salon all on their own ... chunks cut out of their hair. Or maybe it was a run-in with a sticky wad of bubblegum. Maybe it was a pair of dull scissors while her mom was taking a vacation by visiting the bathroom all by herself. My own mother recalls not so fondly coming home one afternoon while my brother and I were still preschool age and being babysat by a neighborhood teenager. She found the babysitter glued to the TV and a path of hair swatches leading to my brother's bedroom where we were full-on engaged in an episode of Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. To her horror, we had played barbershop on each other's scalps. The only way to save my hair was the old "pixie" haircut; my brother was too far gone - he got the buzz cut.
I also remember painfully when I was a little older that my mom wanted so badly for me to have lovely curls "like the rest of the girls in the neighborhood" - a statement with which she stills sees nothing wrong. Her attempt at making my straight brown locks turn curly by using a "Toni" brand box of home perm solution on my head resulted in me losing a good portion of my hair right at the crown. I sported that exploding "mushroom-do" (you know that one that looks like a whale is spouting off the top of your head) for many, many months so that the bald spot was covered. This can be adorable on a 1-year-old; not so much for a 3rd grader.
Even my own two girls ages, 7 and 9, have "hair envy" for each other's hair. My middle child is a mini-me - she inherited the straight long brown hair - but her's is golden-flecked and gorgeous ... but not curly as she is quick to note. My youngest, has the golden blonde curly ringlets, coveted by her older sister, while she longs for smooth, straight hair like her older sister. She even talked a hair stylist into flat-ironing her hair when she was 5 while I had gone to pay the cashier. (What kind of professional I ask you flat-iron's a child's head without consulting the parent!!!) At any rate my girls are slowly moving away from wanting to be like each other. Instead their new fixation is wanting their hair to look like whatever current best friend they have.
The latest challenge has been of all things - bangs. To have bangs or not to have bangs. If they are curly, well then they just curl up and stick out. If they are stick straight well then they get messy and stringy when you sweat or have sunscreen on one's face. Long bangs, short bangs. Sideswept bangs. I did not care this much about anything when I was their age and I don't fuss with my own hair on a daily basis either - I save all that for when I am going out or have to be photographed or facing people who probably care more about what I look like at any given moment than I do.
Over the last few years my daughter Zoe was trying to grow out her hair long enough to donate it to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs out of donated hair for children who lose their hair due to cancer treatments. She saw a little girl at a summer camp once and it stuck with her for years. She had even grown out her bangs until they were nearly down to her chin.
It stuck with her until yesterday. Yesterday that grip of "everybody else is cutting their hair and has bangs, Mommy" was more than she could handle. So, I took her to get a generous trim and, once again, bangs.
I had forgotten how something as simple or as vain as a haircut can really make one's day. She bounced and swished her hair all day, all night and into the next school day. She is in a word - delighted. Her delight makes me smile. Knowing that at this age, nothing - not a best friend, not a winning team, not an aversion to spinach nor a bald spot from a bad perm by a well-meaning mom - nothing is permanent, well that's my little secret.
This is an original post by Pamela Weiss to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.