01 September 2011

Sassy New Me

"Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like."  ~Author Unknown
Did I ever tell you that once I was a hair model?

I was home from college and out at the bars dancing around with my close cropped late 80s hair and there were these guys who were clearly not 'townies' trolling the dancefloor. They offered the cheesy line of "You know, you have great hair. Have you ever thought of being a model?" to all my friends with the flowing locks. They didn't even bother wasting that gem on me. But at the end of the night, when none of them would take them seriously, I volunteered. To be a hair model. At the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point. Could I be there on Sunday morning at 8am dressed all in black? You bet!

I remember going there and they taught us how to sashay down the runway (a.k.a. shuffleboard floor). Then we were ushered into suites where they started poking our heads and commenting about us as if we weren't in the room. Since I had so little hair to begin with they deemed me color worthy. They whipped out these swatch books and started planning their attack. At one point I noticed no less than 4 different shades they were pulling out, from mahogany to cinnamon, paprika and gold. I wondered aloud how that would look and they stop and stared at me as if they had just noticed that I was in the room.

Since color takes time, I was the first one up. I was escorted to the stage in front of about a hundred hairdressers from all across the state. There sat the usual fixtures from a salon: sink, chair with that cool pump-action dohickey, helmet blow dryer, combs and scissors and vats of gloppy color. But no mirror.

They proceeded to tag team me and apply the color all over my head while the guy with the microphone head gear talked about every step of the process. I had to sit and let it stew on my head under one of those helmet dryers while they did updos and funky cuts on all the other willing little lambs.

Ding! Finally the time was up for the reveal.

They rinsed and rinsed. I am sure that there was a river of many colors in that basin. Then they quickly blew my hair dry, added a little styling product. Et voila! They spun me around to face the waiting crowd.

There was a bit of a gasp and then applause. I sashayed across the stage as they told me to do. Results achieved.

As soon as I could I bolted off stage and ran to the suite to see the mirror. I passed many a girl with 'fantasy hair' piled high who gasped, yet not in a good way.

What I saw when I got to the bathroom shocked me.

Imagine if you will a patchwork of color. Every two inches was another color. I looked like I could play hide and seek in a pile of leaves and no one would find me.

I grabbed my coat and fled amid cries that the show was not finished and hurried home. I don't think I got the $20 they promised to pay me. So much for beer money.

Now my parents were not too keen on me doing this in the first place. But I was an adult and this was my choice. I am sure that they could hardly suppress their mirth and their 'itoldyousos' when I arrived home in tears.

I went through two boxes of my mother's Clairol Nice 'N' Easy Dark Brown Espresso that day in the laundry tub. It was just enough to take me from a pile o' leaves to a ginger head before I had to drive the two hours back to Madison.

Thank the Lord there is not one picture of this fateful day. But I bet your imaginations are vivid enough.

Ever felt like it was time for a change? Like you would welcome the "What Not To Wear" crew to come barging in your door and whisk you away to NYC where you would endure all manner of humiliation if it meant a new wardrobe, haircut and make-up kit?

I have been catching bits and pieces of those shows lately (what with the no computer and all... but I am back y'all! Still work to be done to really be 100%, but I am here! Yea!). I usually catch either the train wreck portion in the beginning or the big reveal and the fainting and crying at the end. But I know that the middle part is quite a struggle to get from point A to point B.

I guess I don't qualify for WNTW (just like my clutter is not enough for Miss Niecy Nash and Clean House to come swooping in). I suppose I should be grateful for that. But I still felt restless and mousy and so un-hip.

I had a hair appointment Wednesday. And I knew that my fabulous new stylist Michelle would be up for a style intervention.

I have this very thick and sort of unruly naturally curly dark brown hair. I like curls, really I do, but mine turn into more of an 'fro complete with kinky frizz. But not everywhere. Generally the top is frizzy, the bulk is wavy and the ends just stick straight out. It is like I have three heads of hair.

(Prepare yourself for the horror of the following pictures...You may want to have small children leave the room, and I wouldn't be drinking anything either, or it might end up spewing out your nose.)

While cleaning the garage in the past two weeks I unearthed my ID cards from school.

And yes, I keep crap like that. (Are you sure you don't want to visit me Miss Niecy?)

{Nice 'fro, dude. But it does distract from the braces, don't you think?}

{I am so happy to be back to school. This looks like a mug shot of a preppy criminal in 1983. Notice the polo collar standing at attention. I am sure there were pegged-leg pants down below complete with little white Keds shoes. Because I am fashionable like that. Bonus points to you if you know what that means and how to do it. And how stupid it made your legs look.}

{Ah...now there is a developing sense of style. This was the year of my first driver's license. I was channeling Annie Hall with my sweater vest and knit tie. I wish that I had kept that first drivers' license, but I cut it up as soon as I got my second one because of the doofus in the checkout line who refused to cash my check because she thought I was trying to use my BROTHER'S id. And I don't even have a brother!!!}

{Mullets 'r' Us}

Now I know that that swanky little picture that you see of me every where is pretty dynamite. That was taken around my 40th birthday and the only instruction I gave my photographer Sarah was "do not make me look 40." I think that she succeeded (although this summer at the Bead & Button I had someone tell me that they thought my picture made me look so old...like 40 or something...but I was so much younger looking in person. And I explained that when that picture was taken I was 40. I am not sure if I should be offended or delighted by that observation).

But I am 43 now. And I fear that there are only a few more years that I can get away with that picture.

I am not a fan of cameras pointing in my direction. Although some might say that I am photogenic, I have never liked the way I look on camera. I know. You can always find flaws that others don't see.

When I was young, high school and college aged, I had extremely short hair. I used to get my hair cut by the ROTC barber on campus at UW Madison (not buzz cut, but with shears!). Short hair is something that I am very good at. And I can rock it.

{Four plus years of college. Some of the best years of my life that I really don't remember. Too many Delta Upsilon and Sigma Chi frat parties (Hello, Kelly! Are you with me on that one? ;-).
That was the stage of the BIG earrings.
And can you believe that every single college ID (that I still have, thank you very much) has my entire SOCIAL SECURITY number on it? (I have digitally removed it. So stop looking for it!) I wonder if the uptick in identity theft was started in the late 80s, early 90s with college IDs that were so easily lost? I had to give out that number EVERY DAMN PLACE. How stupid is that?}

But then one day I decided I wanted to grow it out. And my sister was getting married and for once in my life, I wanted "fantasy" hair. I ended up with hair that was piled high on my head. There were little pearls  peeking out of each big curl on my head. It was lovely.

{Getting silly with too many bottles of wine at my sister's bachlorette party. That's me with the 'fantasy hair' trial run on the left, my mom Gail and my cute sister Kelly on the right. June 1997}
{Aren't we a sparkly couple? I loved that hair do with all the little pearls peeking out. And those flowers! Getting back into that dress would be ideal.. I think I should set that dress out as a goal...}
And then I had kids. And long hair was not too practical. So I chopped it all off again. But as they grew I let my hair grow. My kids do not recognize me without long hair. In fact, they don't believe that I ever had short hair, despite all the photographic evidence.

{1999 - Rose Bowl}

I am getting back to the point of wanting that sort of ease and no-fuss again.

{Tiny Dancer 2010 - She has a similar cut this year but my kids refused to let me take the firstdayofschool picture on the front porch today. So bummed ;-( Does that mean that since they got away with it this time I won't be able to do it again? I will be taking that picture...tomorrow ;-}

My darling daughter cut her tresses last year for Locks of Love. She eked out just barely enough inches to qualify and ended up with the cutest bob haircut. That is totally her look. This year she got her 'summer cut' (because she has to let her hair grown long for dance all year in order to have enough for a bun by April!) and it is and even more sassy and fun shape. Dang, that Michelle is good!

So Wednesday night when I went to have my 'witch hairs' covered, I decided that it was time. In addition to a nice rich shade of brown for fall, I picked out several hair cuts from the books and Michelle was able to transform me into a hipper version of myself. Her eyes lit up (that is just the sort of thing a hair stylist wants to hear). As she was cutting I started to feel a draft. Uh-oh. It is short in the front, with longer points just under my chin in the front. She styled it with loose curls by blow drying (how does she conquer that evil appliance?) and then a little flat ironing into soft waves. I feel so much lighter. I am not sure that I recognize myself.

When I got home, Tiny Dancer took one look at me and started shrieking, "NOOOOOOO! Not short hair!"

She was truly devastated.


She'll get over it. It is just hair, after all. It will grow back.

So since I figure that I won't look this fine tomorrow after I have slept on it, and precisely because I am inept with the tools and accoutrements of beauty application, especially the evil 'hair dryer' {shudder - that thing just turns my hair to frizz}, I figured that I needed to take a few pics of myself. Now before you start thinking that I sit around every day posing, you have to know that had my kids been up I would have demanded that one of them snap off a pic or two and leave it at that. But they are already snoring. And they have the first day of school tomorrow, so they were chomping at the bit to get to bed on time (not!). I thought that I would do it myself.
{Update: This morning Tiny Dancer came into my bathroom as I was re-curling the slept on locks (and it looks pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! But I have yet to wash it...) and she says, "See, Mom? Doesn't it feel good to have short hair that is so easy to take care of?" WHA? Just 12 hours before I had her running away in terror at my new 'do and now she is taking credit for it? Really? Pffftt... whatever! (Roll eyes here.)}

Do you know how hard it is? To take your own picture? How silly it makes you feel sitting in your arachnid-infested basement studio trying to smile but not too much and focus shots on your face rather than your chest while getting just enough light and trying to ignore the clutter and creative chaos all around you? I have been having fun with the Hipstamatic camera app on my daughter's iPod touch. I love this app. I spent the last few hours playing with it and not getting much else done (so much for focus). I am trying to find a more artsy and edgy head shot to put out there in the world, like on the blog or website, or as my avatar or something. Not that I want to get rid of the glamorous one that I have (I am still trying to live up to that one), but I guess it is time for something different, something more real life, and I love the patinas that this app gives to the images. (And yes, I am aware that in some I have cut my head off and in others all you can see is hair. Did I mention how hard it is to take your own picture with this app?)

I would love some feedback. (Be honest, but be kind. Okay?)

So now it is your turn...
Do you like my sassy new cut? Or are you running screaming from the room like my daughter?
I haven't perfected 'the pose' yet (it is really hard to take a picture of yourself with this app), but I am more or less experimenting with the various lens/film/flash combinations. Anything here grab you in terms of patina or pose? 
Should I retire my current head shot? 
Should I use something like this in certain places, like on my blog, Etsy shop, website, publications? Or should I just scrap these cheesy photos altogether? 
Do you think that I should cut it even shorter? 
What is your hair story?

Do tell!


Courtney Breul said...

I love the cut! You look great and that is not short!

The second one on the top row is great!

My hair story - just before I went on a blind date with the man who is now my husband, I cut all my hair off (roughly 2 or 3 inches long all over my head) and dyed it platinum blond. And, he still dated me! :)

lunedreams said...

I love that length! In general, and on you in particular! I have "unruly" curly hair too, and have been wanting to shorten it but I'm chicken--it gets wilder the shorter it gets. Maybe if yours will do it, mine will too! One of the best products I have ever found for my hair type is Redken Smooth Down--I use the conditioner and the Heat Glide serum. It's MAGIC for unruly hair.

Unknown said...

I have seen the most gorgeous picture of a lady with a heart of gold and a smile that warms my heart! You are a stunning woman inside and out!

I will be getting mine cut in a couple of weeks but I am so not brave enough to get that sassy. We will just have to see if I can pull something a bit more new off. Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

jessememan said...

Erin, I love this cut! It looks fabulous! Reading your story, I definitely related, as I have kept mine very short for most of my adult life, but occasionally get the desire for long, luxurious hair, then get tired of dealing with it and chop it off again! I used to do hair shows as well :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome haircut Erin! I agree with Courtney, that the top middle pic is a good one :)

My hair story? I can't remember what my natural hair colour is - I've been dying it every colour imaginable for 4 years now. Purple, black, blonde, brown, and now red. I mean, bright red. I like red. People know it's 'my' thing!

Bobbie said...

I think you rock this cut! It looks great.

My hair tale -- one day when my daughter (who's now 22) was about 4 or 5, I got my hair cut. Not buzzed or wild, just shorter and differently styled. For the next day or so, she would only call me "Lady" instead of "Mommjy"...I guess I didn't look enough like the Mom she approved of!

Gardanne said...

i like it. It's short but you still look like you have a lot of hair. When I have short hair I look like a pin head.

Cristi Baxter Clothier said...

I think it looks maaa-velous, my dear! You look great.

SueBeads said...

You look great! You look younger than 43 - woo hoo! I have grown my hair out at this point, but being ahem 46 it's a pain to deal with! I remember in 8th grade I totally fried my hair with a perm and sun-in. Why DO they still sell that stuff?????

JeannieK said...

I'm laughing so hard I have tears rolling down my face. And not because of your new haircut.
I love it! This is a story you have to tell a friend in person and then talk and share war stories in together. We should chat.

Thank you for sharing your photo's with us.
You and your husband are very shiny and sparkly.

Cynthia said...

Miss Erin,
I like the new do! I think it makes you look younger (or are those photos blurry? ;-) I'll pick the upper right photo as my favorite. I have said before that I think you are very photogenic (having never seen you in real life, I don't know why I even have an opinion!) Your smile is beautiful in every photo.
My recent hair story...I've been too hot lately (read: change of life flashing) and just wanted to cut my hair off. Also, I'm a natural blonde, but my hair has darkened over the years to a dull ashy brown. So, I told the girl at the Hair Cuttery to cut it and highlight it. I wanted the cut to be drastic enough that people wouldn't even notice the highlights - it worked, and my hair is off my neck.
I did get one ironic comment from a woman at work - "Oh, you have a big girl haircut now", insinuating that my plain shoulder length hair was for a younger woman/ girl. But, I only grew my hair long since my mid-30's. I had short hair all through school and in my 20's.
I guess it's a matter of perspective!

Silver Parrot said...

It's super cute! I love it! And kudos to you for being brave enough to post photos. Even though I love my new do and my new (red!) color...I can't do the photo thing. But I'm proud of you for doing it!!

And I try not to remember the frat parties...LOL! Scary!

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

What an awesome and entertaining story! Thanks for sharing. I had someone approach me at a mall when I was in college for the same type of thing. I was not as brave as you though and ran the other way! I recently found some old photos, notes and my Duran Duran board game (yes you read that right) from my school years. Kinda fun and scary looking through them! Your new cut looks fantastic!

Tracy Statler said...

Oh Erin! I think it's cool and chic! It looks great on you and I love the hipstamatic shots. Your glam shot - it's beautiful - but I am all for updating pics on a regular basis! : ) I have been trying to grow my hair - but I have been hating it and am thinking of going back shorter. We always want what we don't have - don't we!

Pearl and Pebble said...

Gosh you crack me up!!! AND make me feel like I have been normal all along. (Yes I can do peg bottoms)Your new hair looks great! I can never get it to look the same as my stylist either. Cut it all off a couple of months ago. Wash it every three days or so whether it needs it or not:D And I keep going shorter because I don't want to deal with it. Change your picture, you can always change it back.

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...


Unknown said...

The new cut looks great! & yes, I do know about peg legges jeans, I use to fold my long sleeve shirts the same way...

Be~Jeweled by Jana said...

Very cute and flattering! Have you ever been told you look like Susan Saint James? (of McMillan and Wife in the early 70's. I'm dating myself...LOL!) That's the first thing I thought when I saw your new pictures! Google some of her pics and check it out!

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

LOL! You are oh so very funny! Love the cut, it is sassy and you do look younger. I like your current head shot very much, it's sophisticated and glamorous, but I'm guessing the new cut really is "you"!

Alice said...

I love your new dooo!!!!!!! A little sweet, and a little sassy too. My favorite photo is the bottom left because it shows your hair, and most importantly your lovely face. This cut suits you well.

My hair is straight from the crown to about 3 inches down. From there, well who knows what will happen--frizz, waves, curls, all at once. Very difficult to manage

EmandaJ said...

I Love the new 'do! Many times in my life, when I want to make a change (like lose weight) I will cut my hair for an immediate new look. Hey, it's just hair and it will grow back. There's a saying, "The difference between and bad haircut and a good one is . . . about 6 weeks".


Marianna said...

oh the peg legged jeans! lol!!! bell bottoms came back into style let's hope that's not the case with the peg leg or the big poofed up bangs :D

I too had a short do, I was obsessed with Mary Lou Retton and her bowl cut...worst hair choice ever! I have super thick, unruly hair...trust me it was not a good look and it was right before picture day in gradeschool, yikes!

I LOVE your new cut! You look fabulous!

Michelle said...

I love the new 'do. And that ain't no Dippity Do! LOL I finally got mine cut after about 4 months--it's almost buzzed underneath and in the back and then a bit longer/choppier on top. So far I love it!

I've done drastic a few times...right before my 30th b-day I went platinum--think Marilyn Monroe. 2 years ago my hair was down to the middle of my back and I chopped it all off (not the 1st time i've done this) and the gleam that comes in the stylist's eyes...like REALLY????? I'd had short hair before (can you say Caesar cut?) so it wasn't new to me.

Anyway, I love the new cut and I think that you should change your pictures.


Off the Beadin' Path said...

Good move, Erin! Of course, your long hair was glamorous and gleaming, but this length seems to perk up your face - yes, darn it- you look younger!! A face like yours should be "out there"! I vote for the top right, it's totally "you" and shows your inner beauty the most. But the bottom left is really sassy! A new hairdo that works is so much more than a haircut. I thought it was interesting that you started out with the 9th grade pictures, but I thought you started to look like yourself by 12th grade and got more beautiful from there! A great post, but i refrain from my own hair story - no one really cares, it's hopeless!

Christine said...

I love the new cut, Erin! It really looks fantastic on you!
I think you should update your headshot....I love that picture of you, but I also think it's a grand idea to change every once in a while. :)

My hair story? LONG hair all my life, because I was a dancer. Then I started getting it cut shoulder length or shorter when I had my first daughter...my husband likes it long, but I shed like a dog when I have longer hair, so I prefer to keep it shortish. I need a cut now, actually. I think that might be a reward for surviving six days without power. Hmm. My hair is also >50% grey at this point, so I color it to a coppery reddish brown. Ssh, don't tell! ;)

Cindy said...

Erin, what a great post!! You are such a good storyteller... I had to read every word from beginning to end. :-) Having met you twice and knowing what beautiful, thick (enviable) hair you have, I couldn't wait to see what changes you made! Your new hair cut looks great on you - and yes it does make you look even younger. No one would guess you are 43 - you sure don't look it! My favorite shot is the top one on the right. You are photogenic, girl! :-)

Tara P. said...

It's gorgeous, Erin - I love it! Great story too! Pacelli High School - did it happen to be in MN? We played them in basketball. :)

Pam Chesbro said...

I went super short. We have very similar hair though mine may be more frizzy. Love my hair. Everyone loves my hair. So sorry I didn't do it years ago!

Mellisa said...

Oh my gosh...best. haircut. ever!! Love the new 'do!! You're quite the brave woman to share those id photos...I will NEVER let mine see the light of day again! Several very very very bad photo years in my history...and bad short haircuts (unlike you, I don't think I'm meant for a sassy short cut), bad color and bad perms...did I mention bad glasses too? I did the hair model thing once as well but had a great experience, a super cute smooth bob with bangs (Paul Mitchell show so maybe that helped!). You do take your chances with those though!

Rebecca said...

You look cool, *real*, fun and so, so pretty! Love your hair, it totally suits you. I am in desperate need of a new 'do, just waiting til I can afford the trip to the hairdressers. My favourite is the middle top. All are stunning though! Great Erin-through-the-ages post :-)

Alexandra said...

What a great post.

I love strolls down memory lane.

And the new cut?

So sexy.

Jenners said...

I LOVE the sassy new cut! It is very flattering and modern and girly and professional and just fantastic!!!

Diana P. said...

I think it looks great! Haha my best hair story was in 7th grade... Right before our school photos I had my hair cut up to my chin. Unfortunately at that age I had no clue how to style my hair and ended up with what to this day, my friends still refer to as my "triangle head". Yeah...it was that good.

Kim Stevens said...

Oh Erin, somehow I missed this, love that haircut! I too like the top right, and the bottom right.

Hmmm, not a great hair story, but here goes. When we moved to the gulf coast and it was time to get my hair cut I asked my realtor who had the cutest hair where she got it done. Made the appointment, showed up, all to be told she was sick. So, I made another appointment for the next week and went straight after the closing on our new home. When I got there they said that her baby was now sick and she wasn't there. But they said oh you're lucky 'George' has a cancellation. I said great, and George came around the corner . . . with dark hair on one side of this head and blonde on the other, even his sideburns matched. And he had down the center towards the back very long dreadlocks! To say the least I was a little apprehensive . . . but it was the best hair cut I have ever had. I did leave with my hair all one color.

I have though since ventured out of my box and in the month of October two years ago got pink highlights, one on each side framing my face and now I have a feather extension!! I have had so many compliments on my hair since I have gotten the pink and am stopped almost daily? The first time I did it I didn't tell my family and wasn't sure what to expect when I got home. They didn't seem too surprised, and they loved it.

Sassy is good . . . ; ) (And it's helped my perceived age - I'll be 50 and the other day someone thought I was 38!!)

Unknown said...

Erin, I know this post is 2 years old but I just read the whole thing and laughed so many times I just had to comment. We are the same age and your high school id's look exactly like a few friends I grew up with, polo collar up and peg legs in tact, lol!! You have great hair (anyone who can say..."it's just hair, it will grow back" without breaking down sobbing hysterically has great hair IMO). Now that 2 years have passed I am curious, have you gone shorter or longer? I keep saying when I get older I will have to cut my hair shorter...it's still fairly long so I am holding out on getting older I guess :O)


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