Alopecia

I pass up most Google alerts, but this one caught my eye.  A premature bald woman takes her mother into a salon for her 77th birthday to have her hair and nails done.  A situation that would have traumatized her before.  In fact, she gave up going to them, thinking they were places for people with hair, and she didn't belong. I am moved by her courage, and the inner work she must have done on herself to be confident enough to walk into the salon.  A situation that could have turned heads. 

 Although, I like to think of hairstylists being sensitive to all types of people with all sorts of obvious physical differences, it depends on where you go.  Not all salons are friendly, and in fact, are quite full of themselves and give the profession a bad reputation.  Salons can intimidate and make people feel unfomfortable.

As I read Cheryl Carvery's post, I recalled a client I once gave a haircut to, rather, I gave her very expensive wig.  I worked in one chair salon.  It was private, and I know she appreciated the quiet.  She developed alopecia right around sixteen years old.  She too, seemed to have courage and an inner strength that I felt moved by. 

The wig sparkeled with a level 7, a mid-blonde, with honey highlights.  We were about to shampoo, she held the sides to keep it one her head, and it slipped off.  Her pale, bald head exposed, she reached for the wig with a quick hand and put it back on.  The moment seemed longer than most, discomfort made me tighten and want to take care of her.

As I combed and cut, she shared her history.  I felt honored to be with her.  So much wisdom wrapped up in one woman, who I thought was attractive with, or without hair.  We cut a very modern shape into the hair, long strands fell to the floor.  It was then that she decided to tell me that this beautiful wig was $2000.  I trembled at the thought.  One wrong snip could drain my bank account.   What if she didn't like the cut?   The pressure felt heavy on my chest, until I realized I could sink or swim.  My choice.

We dried her hair and she loved it.  I felt I was given a gift of tenderness, a rare opportunity to expereince her vulnerablity, and therefore experience my own.   I had no choice to look at my own discomfort, and own fear at seeing baldness. 

I think the more women like these can enter salons, own their baldness, and allow us into their human condition, the greater the healing.  One act of courage after another frees us all.

Posted on February 14, 2008 and filed under Beauty, Definition of Humility, Inner Beauty, Inner Strength, inspiration, Salon Life.