So when I was little, I had Shirley Temple curls - without the use of curlers. I know this only because there are pictures.

But then my mother started BRUSHING my hair and forcing me to brush it - 100 strokes. Twice a day. Before school and before bed. So the only hair *I* remember is frizzy, lanky, stringy, thin, and hideous. And I was NOT allowed to cut it short - it had to be long because "a woman's hair is her glory". Well it WAS, before she started taking a brush to it. Oh, and no conditioner for "little girls". It was baby shampoo, Prell, and Breck all the way. And boar bristle hair brushes full of hair.

So one day I just up and lopped my hair off myself, which got me a beating - but it also got my hair cut short. And that's the way I kept it for years, all through college. I had no idea I actually had curly hair because of the brushing and the short hair and who can remember what their hair looked like when they were 4? (My mother actually hid those pictures. I kid you not. She knew just EXACTLY what she was making me do to my hair - SHE used a wide-tooth comb on her own hair, AND conditioner. Shades of mirror,mirror, on the wall - thanks, Mom!)

I go into all this so you can understand how damaged my hair was, for how long, and how little I knew about my own hair the first time I went to a salon.

I decided to grow my hair out in my late 20's, about divorce-time. I'm sure you can figure the psychology behind THAT. Went to a salon, probably in a JC Penneys. I'd been getting my hair cut at a barber's up to then. Told them I was trying to grow my hair out but I was having trouble with all these weird flips at the ends (little did I know that was my curl trying to resurrect itself). So they suggested a perm. I said OK but I would like curls but not kinky curls. They assured me I would have curls.

They fried my hair. It is baby fine. It was crispy critters and it frizzed like the most stereotypical 60's afro - and I do not have "black" hair or anything close to it.

When I went back they claimed they had warned me not to try a perm. THEY TALKED ME INTO IT! I cried. I felt trapped into perpetual perms because it always looked so awful growing out. I went from one salon to the next trying to "fix" my hair every 6 months. I NEVER had a decent cut. I NEVER had a decent perm. And no one EVER mentioned that the reason my hair was getting all flippy while I desperately tried to grow it out was that it was actually ALREADY CURLIER than any perm anyone had ever put into it.

I would ask for a trim and they would lop off 6" of hair. I would tell them NOT to trim and they would do it anyway. I would ask for a specific cut and I would end up with something that would make a French Poodle weep. They would insist to me that if I would only buy $200 worth of their hair "product" all my troubles would be solved. They would spray aerosol hair spray on my hair (even when I told them not to) until it was so stiff I was afraid it would break if I touched it. Or if I managed to head them off at the hair spray pass, they would fill my head with styling gel until it was crunchy and looked liked the finest shiny hard lacquer. It looked like the hair on a ship's figurehead. Like wood. SHINY wood. More than once early in my salon-hopping career I ended up with bangs - despite having told the stylist in NO uncertain terms how much I HATE BANGS.

This went on for YEARS. I felt trapped into going back over and over again trying to get it "fixed". Until I moved to Puerto Rico - where I was too busy to find a salon and get it permed. Then one day I got up, showered and washed my hair, combed it out (I had gone from brushes to afro picks by this time because of the constant perming of my hair), ran to work because I was late - and suddenly realized I had CURLY CURLY HAIR.

I hadn't had a perm or so much as a trim in over a year and suddenly it was growing out, growing in, and curling like a mad thing. The thing I had been pursuing with the fervor of King Pellinor on the trail of the Questing Beast had been living inside my follicles all this time, struggling to get out, and I had been beating it down with chemical perms and bad hair cuts. Well, I had been allowing various stylists to beat it down, and then crying over the results.

I went to a stylist exactly one more time after that. She lopped 6 to 8" off my hair despite my SPECIFIC AND REPEATED instructions to trim off no more than an inch. When I caught her at it, she told me I would look LOVELY with a short hair cut and long hair was so passe and out of style - I don't know if she was trying to cover up a mistake, or if she had actually intended to butcher my much-fought-for long hair down to the nubbins against my expressed wishes. Then she tried to make me sit under a hair dryer despite the fact that I told her heat on my hair was a 100% guarantee of frizzing and increased breakage - she told me that was nonsense as my hair was "very coarse" (it is baby fine) and that hair dryers and blow dryers are "totally safe" for all hair types, AND that "heat is good for your hair - it makes it grow". When she did the cut, she wet it down and straightened it so once the curls came back after it dried, it was not only too short, it was uneven to boot.

I have never set foot in the door of a salon, barber, stylist, or other hair butcher ever again. And I'm sorry for any stylists on this forum who aren't idiots, but I have no respect at all for a "cosmetology degree". It's been my experience that they know even less about my hair than I do. I once had a cosmetologist insist to me that cutting hair makes it grow faster, so if I wanted it long, I must cut it short (and she was NOT talking about cutting off damaged hair); and that long hair will make you go bald because the weight of your hair will pull it out by the roots and it puts so much stress on the hair follicles that your hair will stop growing.

There are 500 million women in India who give the lie to THAT myth, LOL! She also had some vague notions about long hair causing depression and anxiety because it is starving your brain for oxygen. A real crackpot notion. Hair is dead. It doesn't use any oxygen once it's grown out of your head. Then tried to put me down for being an ignoramus because she had a degree in cosmetology (mine is only in Engineering and Computer Science with minors in Psychology and Biology).

They weren't all like that - but I have never, not once, met a stylist who knew anything about curly hair or who could cut my hair to look like the cut they were supposed to be doing or perm it without frying it.

If it had been me who ended up with the lopsided beret shaped hair, you had best believe there would have been NO PRETENDING to like such a monstrosity. There'd have been fur flying until they reshaped it not to look weird. I've had some bad haircuts - but never THAT bad. I've had some hideous cuts and forced them to "fix" it as best I could before I'd leave the salon, and I learned to watch them like a hawk. I would sit there with a mirror and watch what they were doing even to the back of my head to nip any tendency to layer or lop or otherwise not follow directions. And they STILL tried to do what THEY wanted instead of what I asked for.

I have never figured out what it is about hair styling that makes the hairdresser think they should be allowed to do whatever they want, regardless of what YOU want. It's like they all think they are artistes and you are merely the lumpen fodder whose sole reason for existence is to serve as the canvas for their artistic expression. Which might not be so bad - except they all seem to be Picasso ...

Last edited by Soj; 01-20-2014 at 03:02 PM.