I kept seeing ads for an at-home haircutting kit in my Facebook feed, in those “five hundred things on Amazon that you obviously need” type of lists that pretend to be articles. I am addicted to those lists, which is probably why they come up so frequently on my feed.
Anyway, the kit included two plastic guard clips and a pair of scissors, so you could cut your hair at home. If it had cost five or ten dollars I would have ordered it immediately, alas it was more expensive than that, and I was skeptical that it would be worth the money.
But…I hate getting my hair cut. I hate sitting in a salon and listening to all of the inappropriate personal conversations blossoming around me, and I hate feeling pressured to talk to the hairdresser, and I hate feeling like I’m being stared at and judged the whole time (Did you see her nails? I bet she only gets her hair cut every few months! She’s not even wearing makeup!!). I start to feel like I have a sensory processing disorder with all of the smells and noises and lights, and I’m on the edge of running out the door screaming the whole time. And the haircut itself always takes so long! And it’s so stressful trying to guess how much hair I should ask her to cut off, and inevitably I guess wrong and when she’s all done I realize I wanted it two inches shorter, but I’m too embarrassed to say anything.
For years, Mom and I went to a small salon, behind a beauty supply store that was never crowded, and the hairdresser was low key and liked to talk about dogs. The haircuts themselves were still anxiety producing, but I could handle it. And then the store closed, a few years ago, and we had to go to go back to a real hair salon and my anxiety blew up.
And then came Covid. I left my hair to grow very long at the beginning of the pandemic, unwilling to risk a crowded hair salon, even while wearing a mask and with each cubicle separated by a plastic divider. I finally went back, but each time my anxiety got worse, and I put off the next haircut even longer.
But recently, my hair had gotten so long that I had to wear it up every day, because if I left it down it was as if I had a hundred paint brushes attached to my head, getting into everything. And that silly haircutting kit ad just kept showing up on my Facebook feed, taunting me, telling me that I’d either have to put on my mask and get a real haircut, or buy the dang thing and take a risk. The turning point came when Mom got into a snit one night, after I fell asleep, because her hair had gotten stuck in her glasses for the thousandth time, and she decided to chop off her bangs on her own. When I woke up the next morning her hair looked very much like the way mine looked when I was five years old and my best friend cut my bangs with a pair of safety scissors.
I showed Mom the home haircut kit and she said, eh, why not? So I finally ordered it, ready to blame her if it turned out to be a waste of money.
The kit arrived not too many days later, but I just stared at it, in its packaging, for a few more days. And then I risked opening it, and continued to stare at it. Then I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube of people using the clips to cut their hair, to trim bangs, and even make long layers. And then, finally one day I decided to try it. I waited for my hair to be dry (which takes a long freaking time lately), and combed out the knots, and then I layered paper towels over the bathroom sink to catch the hair as it fell, and I took a deep breath. I’d decided to try doing the long layers, because that way I could gather all of my hair in front of my face and actually see what I was cutting (instead of trying to cut my hair behind my back). Miraculously, the guard clip stayed in place as I hacked away at my hair (there are a lot of teeth in the guard clip to keep the hair from moving around as you cut). The scissors that came with the kit were surprisingly small, but I thought I should at least try to use them the first time, in case they had special powers (they didn’t). It took a lot of chopping to get through the mass of hair, but then I was able to even everything out by snipping as close as possible to the edge of the guard clip, after the masses of hair were out of the way. And when I flipped my hair back to see how the hair cut had turned out, the layers looked really good, as if I’d gotten an actual haircut! I went ahead and used the smaller guard clip to trim my bangs, and went a little shorter than I meant to because it was harder to judge the right length than I thought it would be. But then I was done. And it was, relatively, easy. I will need to try again pretty soon, though, because my hair is still too long. Except, I’m anxious about cutting my hair too short; it has become kind of like my security blanket during Covid, keeping me safe, somehow.
Oh, and after all of that time spent cutting my hair with the tiny scissors, I remembered that I actually have an electric clipper in the closet (from back when I was naïve enough to think I could groom Cricket at home) that I could have been using to cut my hair much faster. I had to give up on my grooming attempts with Cricket way back when, because even after a year and a half of diligent effort, I could still barely brush one swath of her hair without running out of chicken treats. Even sweet Ellie starts to grumble when I try to comb her hair or, god forbid, clean her ears, so the clippers have stayed in the closet and have probably rusted through, though I should probably check.
As long as I don’t suddenly decide that I need to have short hair, or a Mohawk or something, I should be able to use my little haircutting kit for the foreseeable future, or at least long enough to forget exactly how awful it feels to go to the hair salon. In the meantime, the dogs still have to go to the groomer, because there’s no kit in the world that will make them tolerate me cutting their hair at home, let alone their nails, without risking life and limb. So while I can now avoid the expense and anxiety of going out for haircuts, the girls will still have to go to the groomer regularly, each haircut costing about as much as it would cost for a human woman’s haircut, and requiring a lot of drugs (for Cricket) and treats (for Ellie) to make it worth the horror. Fingers crossed that neither of them decides they need to dye their hair or get a perm, because that could get prohibitive.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?