1 "You Are Hair" | The Billfold

“You Are Hair”

Enjoy this supercut worthy of SuperCuts by Bonnie and Maude about how emotional and character-defining a process it can be to get one’s hair cut. The only thing it leaves out that I can think of is a scene from Chris Rock’s illuminating documentary Good Hair, which had my jaw clattering to the floor with details about what weaves can cost. (Answer: So much that some people have to buy them on layaway and know-it-alls will tell you bluntly your weave is why you’re broke.)

In an inversion of that, though, the video montage does include snippets of famous fictional women selling their hair for money, like Fantine from Les Miserables and Jo March from Little Women. I have never made money by selling my hair, though I did donate to Locks of Love once or twice. In another era, maybe I would have! It’s nice and thick and grows back fast, like it did when I got an ill-advised crop a year before my wedding.

Spending too much on my hair has always made me feel uncomfortable; it triggers my Self-Indulgence! Guilt! reflex. In college, a good friend of mine cut my hair in the dorm. In later years, I visited professionals in their apartments who cut hair “under the table” — i.e., for cash — or took advantage of 2-for-1 or hair modeling offers. Results … varied. Nowadays I don’t go that far towards abnegation, but I still top out at around $6o and only visit a salon twice a year. Maybe if I went more often I would feel like a million bucks, and it would be worth it! Do you have saving secrets? Is your hair worth splurging on?


12 Comments / Post A Comment

ragazza (#4,025)

I spend a lot on my haircut (more than $60)–I’ve been going to my stylist for more than 20 years, and I always get a great cut. (She didn’t start out that expensive, of course.) My excuse is that I don’t spend a lot on personal care: I never get manicures or facials and I get a pedicure about once a year. And I can afford it–it’s not making me give up other things. However, when I finally have to start coloring my hair it’s going to be crazy expensive. So I might have to figure out something else then.

ATF (#4,229)

I would say yes for myself. I spent $175 (with tip) on a cut and color every 8-9 weeks. Which will never be anything but a lot of money to me. But when you have thick, frizzy hair that’s not quite so un-tamable that you could never wear it straight, a proper cut is a must. I’ve had so many bad cuts over the years that have left me in tears that I’m just so very over it.

Heather F G (#6,074)

Aaah I wrote a thinkpiece on this for the radio internship I did in high school, which I followed with “Cut Your Hair” by Pavement and thought was really clever. Now that I have some perspective, I can look with self-awareness on how, as an outer-suburbs teenager who was surrounded by kids who were more involved in the glamorous “scene” that living within the city limits of our midsize Southern/Midwestern town afforded. Getting the right haircut was SO symbolic of escaping the small-town-near-the-big-town life for me, because these hipster girls with their exotic, fun lives spent SO MUCH on their hair (time, effort, $$$ my parents didn’t have, but once I got a job I spent halves of paychecks on trying to recreate the thrill of the “right” cut/color). Now that I actually live here and have access to all these salons and places and people it doesn’t quite hold the same thrill. I’m a living, very girly Bruce Springsteen song.

garli (#4,150)

I spend usually zero dollars on hair cuts (because my friend teaches at beauty school and I’m the how to cut curly hair model) or 35 bucks for when my schedule doesn’t work with hers.

I will never color my hair, although I did get my first grey hair just recently. Much to my mostly grey-haired husband’s delight.

I spend an obscene amount on conditioner/leave in conditioner. My hair is super curly and super thick and all cheaper shampoo is like VOLUME ENHANCING and that is the opposite of what I want/need. Buying the right conditioner is worth every penny.

Heather F G (#6,074)

@garli (because my friend teaches at beauty school and I’m the how to cut curly hair model)


CaddyFdot (#2,686)

@garli @ATF Yep, I’m a curl-head too and I absolutely will spend good money getting a good cut, probably 4 times a year. I also get no facials, manicures, or other beauty treatments (maybe one pedicure a year), and my makeup and most bath products are drugstore-not-designer, so I don’t feel too bad about the hair splurge.

I’ve had my hair guy for probably 5 years and he’s fantastic and so much fun. The good cut plus the enjoyable experience are totally worth $100 + tip.

I guess I’m the outlier! I spend 700$+ on hair products alone. Haha I think my hair is worth all the time and money I spend on it. Also being curly haired I spend about 75$ on hair cuts including tip.

andnowlights (#2,902)

The most I’ve spent for hair + eyebrow wax was $110. And I think normally I pay $30 when I go to the woman that has usually cut my hair since I was 12 (I’m 28, for context). But I haven’t gotten a haircut in… over a year? I am so lazy.

DebtOrAlive (#5,233)

There are issues (Issues!) to this for black women–and men too, but at least we can just keep ours short and “acceptable.” Issues of what it means to look respectable and professional when the hair as it grows out of your head is not considered so. When the audacity to present your hair as it grows on your head is seen as an aggressive political statement in itself.

To wit, Michelle Obama New Yorker fist bump cover. Yes, THAT one.

It not just Silly Women Spending Too Much On Their Hair (not that I’m implying Ester is suggesting any such thing), but real matters about how black women (and to a lesser extent, men) are seen in the workplace. To quote Paul Mooney, “If your hair is nappy, white people ain’t happy.”

@DebtOrAlive I know, and this always struck me as a ridiculous imposition, even more so when I found out how long it can take to get braids. Maybe the tides are finally changing, though? A little? http://tomandlorenzo.com/2014/05/lupita-nyongo-at-calvin-kleins-women-in-film-cannes-party/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+tlofeed+%28Tom+%26+Lorenzo%29&utm_content=FaceBook

ephem (#5,696)

@DebtOrAlive I am not doubting that racism has affected the way African American woman do their hair, BUT I live in Florida and the competition among AA women for Best Hair just seems so freaking FIERCE (using the old def of fierce, not the current one). The roots have sprung from racism, but at this point in time it seems to be the approval and disapproval of their mothers and sisters and friends that motivates AA women to straighten and weave. (Also because it’s fun and beautiful to play with hair, of course, I don’t want to negate that part, because I love hair of all kinds!)

I didn’t spend a lot of money on my hair when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older and my hair has become grayer (and an unpleasant shade–not a lot of gray, but enough to change my hair from a pretty auburn to a dull steel gray), I pay $110 plus 22-25% tip every 10-12 weeks for cut and color.

To the outside world, I absolutely AM my hair. No men ever looked at me when I was coloring my hair brown. As soon as I started coloring it a vibrant medium auburn (very close to the color it was when I was 6 years old), I started turning heads again! It has been an remarkable experience.Nothing else about me has changed, just my hair color. This must be something akin to what women feel like when they lose a lot of weight and start attracting male attention.

This is important to me lately because I finally found someone who does my halfie hair good and I found her doing free work for her salon exams. Yeah, it costs money, but I spent basically my whole young adult life with DIY haircuts (it is not that hard to fade it/I have had TERRIBLE hair because of my need to DIY) and she does amazing work and thus totally deserves every penny.

It still is something that I freak out about tho.

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