Annual Hair Appointment? Nope, Existential Crisis.

By Puja

Confession: I go to the hair salon once a year. Not because of time constraints, travel, or even the usual stealer of joy, Mean Me. I only go once a year because getting my hair done stresses me out. You know that scene in Gravity where Sandra Bullock is just spinning uncontrollably in space? I can relate to that when I go get my haircut. Before I start this story, let me give you context:

  • I have a complicated relationship with my hair. It used to be shampoo commercial amazing, but what is left after law school may or may not be some combination of straw, human hair, dental floss, and a bruha’s curse.
  • I have been known to walk out of salons and contact my best friend JUST so she can talk me out of burning it to the ground, this usually involves margaritas.
  • The people I trust to do my hair cost a lot of money. I willingly pay them this money, but one appointment is essentially my annual hair budget. #Adulting
  • After 2015’s haircut, the stylist asked me if I liked it and I spat: ‘I mean I look like a 35 year old yuppie, and I guess that’s fine because that is what I am.’ I was so frustrated that I had spent time psyching myself up for a different and exciting look and what I got was the standard issue mid-level corporate drone cut. Ya’ll know I shun all things basic.

The 2016 hair appointment, also known as karmic justice, went like this:

Me: I don’t want my usual caramel and blonde ombre, I want to go red.
My [AH-MAH-ZING] colorist: What do you mean red?
<We pick a color I would describe as ‘Bordeaux poured in a dimly lit steakhouse.’>
Me: Let’s also cover my greys.
My [passive-aggressive] colorist: Yes, there are a lot more than last year.
<Two hours later, I did not leave happy>

Side note, I had to take before and after pictures for the salon. I had to fake smile when I was essentially dying inside, and they didn’t even put the pictures up. Sigh.

It is the day before New Year’s Eve and I’m in my car ready to physically fight 2016. So what do I do? What does the new me, the one who barely crab-walked over the finish line of 2016 do? Does she harness all the self-care and shame controlling tools that she spent hours reading, learning, trying out, and writing about? No. She cried all the way home.

During my ‘woe is me-ing,’ I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without crying. I text the women of this blog, narrating my meltdown, not really articulating why I am upset beyond “I hate my hair.” There were attempts to reassure me, but if you know me, you know Mean Me has my ear. Mean Me raised a legitimate concern about the new hair making my skin look grey. And grey skin is old skin. As I am staring into the mirror, all I see is old skin, and the internal soundtrack (the chorus to Mulan‘s “Reflection”) crescendos in my head:

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

Mean Me: That is inside you. Inside you is on the outside now. All that young skin just fell right off and left an old woman behind. You got your hair dyed Indian Aunty henna red. The kids at temple already call you Aunty. They don’t even blink when they say it. You are aging, that old grey lady is you.

Harry Potter Mega Fan Me: You are giving off the Ravenclaw House ghost vibe.

Oh the Indian Aunty henna dye job. I don’t know how to explain this to non-Desis. If you are some shade of Brown,  you have that one Aunty who dyes her hair. But as she gets older, she doesn’t change the color. She’s 80, but her dye job wants you think 39. That is not a judgement statement, that is a description. Then you start noticing that oh this off-color Aunty isn’t as stylish as she once was; And I don’t mean Aunty Fashion, I mean ill-fitting, mis-matched, bad fabric choices. It is as if having an Indian Aunty henna dye job is a hop skip and a jump to (at worst) giving up or (at best) embracing function over form. Are either of these images I want to project with this hair? Grey skinned and slovenly dressed?

Visa: The amount of money you spend on clothes and you still looking slovenly? SMH.

I have enough problems as it is without this…so I took this quiz from BuzzFeed, Are you turning into an Auntyji



That doesn’t help things.

At all.

But I say stuff like “Woke,” use hashtags, and drink kombucha. Wait, am I not pulling those things off? I’m on the ‘Auntyji Express’ and the first sign was how terrible I look with my new ‘do. Just last month, when I had brownish ombre, people thought I was 28. NOW I LOOK MY AGE. After almost two weeks of living within this new normal (shout out Laura), I think the meltdown was about realizing two things (probably more, I am not done angsting):

  • I wanted this drastic new look, I took a chance, and it back-fired. Miserably. I was not prepared for the mental exercise that would be required if you are not ready for your make-worser. I spent almost the equivalent to 1/3 of my rent on my hair and I don’t recognize myself. Not that the quality of the color and cut are bad. Objectively, they are enviable, but not on me…Mean Me informed me this is my karma for snapping at the stylist in 2015. This is how adventurous spirits are crushed.
  • I pretty much have had the same face since I was 10,  and this was honestly the first time I felt ‘not myself;’ it didn’t look like me and I had to face the fact that I am aging. And I didn’t want to do that just quite yet. And when you realize the passage of time is what is actually the thing you are upset about, the spiral that results is shame-filled and toxic.
    • Yeah so when you have anxiety, a thing is never just a thing. It is a potential trigger. Lately, I don’t know what my triggers are. They are changing. They are changing because I am changing; why did it have to be in the same year I have to check a new age-range box on those stupid forms? I’m cool with inner change and soul growth, but this seems nefarious. This seems like it is one step away from blinking and realizing your entire life passed you by. Who has night cream recommendations?

A good thing about realizing you are moving through life at the speed of wrinkles, is that you can either stop and do some soul-searching and/or you get empowered to try and live your best life. But that motivational moment is at best two months away (I made a follow-up appointment for March). This still kind of sucks, I had all these plans for my new red hair, most of it was just me vamping around town like Jessica Rabbit. So instead of Va-Va-Voom, I am dealing with screech-car crashing noises-Boom existential crisis. Would I have been able to pull off this new hair if I was younger? If you need me, I will be probably be out enjoying the early bird special, look for the lady at at Table for One wearing Talbot’s from head to toe, or just shout out “Auntyji!”

Things Keeping Me Sane This Week: Despite the existential crisis, several things are keeping me sane this week. The first is, I have a couple of creative projects I am collaborating with some amazing friends on. Second, happy birthday Mey! Finally, the first GIRLS TRIP of 2017 is approaching, too bad it will be with this hair…I guess I have to rock a chignon that weekend.

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