Up until I turned 18 (quite some time ago), my dad was the last word on my hair. I wasn’t allowed to cut it.
It was down to my knees.
I hated it.
My mom had to wash it and comb it and braid it for me, because my tiny person arms couldn’t manage all of it. I almost never wore it down, because kids at school would mess with it, and I already had enough trouble at school for not being quite as affluent as the other kids who lived in my area.
That was tiny me. I don’t have very many pictures of when I was small, but I do like this one. I am sure I was enjoying the flowers, and this must have been some sort of occasion as my hair was mostly down.
You can’t see it very well, but my hair was loose except for those ribbons on either side. This was my kindergarten picture. My mom made that dress.
I do not have fond memories of that photo. Right before I went in to have this picture taken, some kid in my class started pulling my hair because it was never down, and that day, for picture day, it was down. He pulled it so hard I cried, and I remember trying to get myself together for those pictures. I think they look okay, but I can tell in the left one that I wasn’t happy.
Yet another reason to keep my hair braided.
Good gravy, this photo is so unflattering! But it is funny, even now. It’s hard to tell, but those balloons are tied to the end of my braid. That was at Expo ’86!
I left this photo large so hopefully you can see my hair better. This was around the time I was in junior high, and my dad had finally relented and allowed me to get it cut up to my waist area. It was still a pain and I didn’t like it, but it was a good foot and a half better than it had been. This was another rare occasion of having it down. We were in Victoria, British Columbia for my father to cover an assignment (he was a photographer by that point), and I’d wanted to visit The Butchart Gardens. That’s where this was taken.
As the years went on, I grew more and more frustrated with my hair. I eventually wore my dad down and got it cut to my mid-back, but he really didn’t like that.
But, it wasn’t until I turned 18 that I took matters into my own hands.
For years and years, my father couldn’t remember my birthday. I don’t mean the day, I mean he couldn’t even remember the month (which should be even more embarrassing for him as within a two week time span on the calendar, first my middle brother’s birthday happens, then mine, then my oldest brother’s). He could remember both of my brothers’ birthdays, just never mine.
It’s probably one of the reasons I always dread my birthday.
But I digress.
As my 18th birthday crept closer and closer, I had finally had enough of his totalitarian rule over my hair. I said, screw it, went to the salon, and had this done:
I cut it all off and dyed it black. I loved it! I’d wanted short hair my whole life and I finally made it happen.
He, of course, hated it. He had a lot of things to say about it, none of them terribly nice.
I also moved out when I was 18, so, we didn’t have long to be at odds about it.
As the years have passed, I’ve occasionally grown my hair out again, but never much past my shoulders. And it wasn’t until I met a lovely girl in 2006 that I was connected with a stylist after my own heart: Dayna Cakebread (yes, that’s her real name!).
She had a salon called Belle Epoque and did what she called transformation haircuts. You chose three words that best described you, and she designed your cut around that.
The girl who recommended her to me was impossibly beautiful with adorable hair. I felt confident.
After that first haircut, I was absolutely confident.
When I went to see her, my hair looked like this:
That was easily the longest my hair had been in ages. It was also because I was being cheap and didn’t want to spend money on a haircut. I treated myself to a haircut with Dayna for my birthday that year, and this is how it came out:
I loved that haircut. I still think that is my favorite haircut of all time. She totally understood what I wanted without my even having to ask. From that point on, I’d go to see her and ask her to do whatever she thought looked best on me. She was always big on education and experimenting, and I love that about her.
The following year I went back to her and my hair looked like this:
Again, it was pretty long. I had brought in a photo of Barry Gibb circa 1967. She took that image and ran away with it and this is what I came out with:
I loved it. She always seemed to know just what would and wouldn’t work.
One of the most documented haircuts she gave me had to do with formal photographs of my partner and I. When I went to see her that time (she is back in Portland, OR, and we have lived in southern California for many years now), my hair was in bad shape. I had had it colored too much and it had a lovely (and unintentional) greenish cast. It was shaggy. Here is a not great before photo:
It’s really hard to tell how awful it looked there, but believe you me, it wasn’t pretty. I went to Dayna, told her I needed it to look nice and timeless for our photo shoot, and she absolutely came through:
I loved that haircut. It’s easily one of my most favorite haircuts ever. All the ones from Dayna are. She is so talented and educated and a bit magical.
It was amazing to know after my ridiculous history with hair that there was someone out there who just got it. She got me. I miss being able to go to her, but I try to whenever I am up there visiting, and, in the meantime, I have a lovely lady down here (we talk about horror movies every time I see her!).
I was thinking about growing my hair out a little again. Nothing past my shoulders, and probably not even past my chin, but I had that urge, and I may give in. I love that no matter what I choose to do with my hair, it’s my choice and no one else’s. Just as it should be.
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