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Posted by on Sep 20, 2010 in A Dasheen Life, Mane Attraction | 0 comments

Mane Attraction: Salon Date

Salon Date side profile

Why must a visit to the salon, ren­der us, as women, so vul­ner­a­ble, so poten­tially victimized?

If you think that’s dra­matic ask any woman, cross any cul­ture, lis­ten to her sto­ries. It’s rough out there.

I haven’t been to the salon in three years. I was and am con­tent to live my life on my own hair terms. But some­times, just some­times, I long to put myself in the hands of another in the name of pam­per­ing. Think spa here, Ayurvedic to be exact, and a lady with most del­i­cate hands pour­ing ghee oil over your hair, as you lay on your back, close your eyes and give your­self over to pure feel­ing and she mas­sages your scalp.

This is a slice of heaven—trust me. And that lovely feel­ing was just one of two rea­sons I decided to step foot in someone’s hair salon/academy.

The other was Afro­bella. She blogged recently about the great expe­ri­ence she had at an Aveda salon in New York City, dur­ing her jaunt there for Fash­ion Week. I was inspired. I knew of the local Aveda Acad­emy, which I passed quite reg­u­larly. And with the faith in a co-worker and friend who also loved going there, I thought hmmm. and just went for it.

I knew what I wanted. A wash, deep-deep-DEEP con­di­tion, prefer­able with a steamer on hand and a blow-out (haven’t had that in over two years) that I thought might aid in the trim I knew I needed to get rid of the last bit of dam­aged ends, whaich still lin­gered post-hair color so long ago. My appoint­ment was made for two Fri­days ago.

I should have known from the first call, where I waited while some­one went to ask if the salon/academy “did” nat­ural hair, that just maybe the actual salon expe­ri­ence would not be as I envisioned.

The place was buzzing. I mean there was a line. I must have waited for a good 20 min­utes. I didn’t mind. When I finally sat in that chair, I imme­di­ately felt out of place. This beau­ti­ful, and I mean GORGEOUS Mila Kunis look-alike wanted to know if I had asked for her specifically.

“No,” I assured. “I called and asked if you guys cared for nat­ural hair and the lady said yes.”

“Oh, because that’s how I started.” She reassured.

You would think after that last, I would have relaxed, but there was some­thing about the way she was look­ing at my hair and ask­ing me what I wanted done, where I felt like, this lady does not know what to do with me, or my hair.

I looked around, there were at least three nat­u­rals (two styl­ists and one instruc­tor). They weren’t on my head, but it couldn’t be that bad. I think I actu­ally thought that they would come to my res­cue, if need be—as if that was their responsibility.

My hair was in plaits (I really should have unplaited them already) and so we both went to town. Her combs were too small and there was lots of tug­ging. That’s a no-no in my world. I had the good sense and courage to say, we need a wide tooth comb. OK, min­i­mal dam­age done and we’re off to wash.

I was really look­ing for­ward to this part as I hinted before. Unfor­tu­nately, this por­tion was short-lived (I felt like they were pre­serv­ing stock) and there was so much rub­bing of hair and not scalp that this is where I started to tear up a lit­tle on the inside. I thought, let’s just get through this. After a quick con­di­tion and rinse, I reached my fin­gers up to feel, to reas­sure myself that hair was still there. It was soft to the touch, but that didn’t mean any­thing when my insides were turn­ing over.

She asked: “How does it feel?” I said “soft” as if that summed up how I felt.

The next almost killed me. What I thought would be a blow out (which I requested) turned into an edu­ca­tion in the ways and means of a flat iron. I’ve never used a flat iron, have no plans to after that expe­ri­ence. All I remem­ber say­ing was: you don’t have to get it straight-straight. I never ever wear my hair like that and I don’t plan to. She, how­ever, was deter­mined to get me straight. An hour later I was straighter than I have ever, ever been as a nat­ural and we were ready to trim.

I was done in, over and out by then and still I kept silent. Fif­teen min­utes later I was trimmed. I kept reas­sur­ing myself, and promis­ing my hair, when I get home I will fix this—whatever the dam­age, I will fix it.

If all this sounds like I blame my Mila, I don’t. Nope!

In fact, I blame myself, since with all my cus­tom­ary bold­ness, I could and should have opened my mouth and said thanks, but no thanks, or even it’s not you, it’s me. Instead I said noth­ing. I sat there winc­ing, my body of its own voli­tion say­ing what I refused to say—I don’t like this. This is not what I wanted.

What’s inter­est­ing is that I was look­ing around and every woman there was smil­ing, say­ing how much they loved their hair and I just knew that it wasn’t always the case.

In the end it was a wait­ing game. I had to wait until I next washed to see if my hair would revert. There were good signs along the way, along my sides and nape, but that’s to be expected with the tex­ture there. The top, which has almost no spring in its step, unless manip­u­lated, refused until the bit­ter end.

I am happy to report that my hair is doing well. After I washed it this week­end, it regained it’s curl pat­tern, and I was pleased with the final final results of my trim.

Still, the end did not jus­tify the means. It could have ended very dif­fer­ently, and all because I gave up my power to choose and say no, in the wake of a feel­ing of help­less­ness, while sit­ting in someone’s salon chair.

I wish I under­stood the psy­chol­ogy behind that. I wish I could assure myself that if I ever ended up in someone’s salon chair and was unhappy, that I would say so and hap­pily exit. But I do not know.

I highly doubt that I will find my way back to the salon. No hard feel­ings and no dis­re­spect intended. It’s just not my cur­rent bag. How­ever, my trip there was infor­ma­tive, and had me dream­ing about open­ing a nat­ural salon/academy locally. It is very much needed.

In the mean­time, I con­sider this trip another les­son for the jour­ney.

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