Posts filed under boundaries

Obama or McCain

Instead of interviewing clients on their thoughts, feelings and reactions to color, I want to know which candidate the Democrats are going to vote for and why.  At this point it is a little frightening to think that if the Democrats in America can't get behind Obama, and they decide for malicious reasons they will vote for the antiquated McCain, a guy that even the Republican party doesn't like, we are heading down further into dark times.  Maybe it's too late for this sort of inquiry, but is it?  Shouldn't we fight with determination in the ways that we can to affect those around us, to have dialogue about what matters to the final moment? In fact, I need to be recording people's responses, NOW.  What better place than the hairdresser's chair to gather a consensus based on this particular segment of society, in Berkeley, California?  It's a bit intimidating to open up the political conversation in the chair, because who knows what beliefs people have, and if they consider it too personal a topic to go into, and what if they are Republican?  In the past, maybe I would have had a reaction, but now, I think it more important to discuss our viewpoints, especially if they differ from mine, to understand other view points.  I think I could interview clients from a neutral position. 

Mrs. Page in beauty school might not approve, but interviewing clients right now about their political views would bring me satisfaction of a different sort.  I've always been trying to get to the underbelly of the beauty industry, knowing from experience, there is much more than what meets the eye when somebody sits in the chair.  Why not take the opportunity?

Posted on May 20, 2008 and filed under Beauty, boundaries, hairstylist, Personal Questions, Politics.

Sunset Hues in Her Hair

Cordelia was in today. Her hair was faded, but the black and the lightener pieces held up. I used 4.3 1/4 tube, and 6.46 on the base because I am was out of 5.46. I touched up the ends with special effects blood red, with hot lava, hi octane orange with a bit of yellow, and yellow by itself.  Cordelia is on her way to Greece for three weeks with her mother.  They are going on a sail boat for a contra dancing cruise.  She wanted to sport great hair, and so I went to work.  As, I swathed the sunny colors on her hair, we talked about our work, good food, and art.  We both had returned from women’s weekends, both wanting girl, art and nature, and good food connection. I came back with the deeper knowing that writing is what feeds my soul. Even so, sitting down and working on my book is the last thing I will sit and do. I’m afraid. What it requires for me to slow down enough to go deep inside feels like stepping into quicksand.

Back to Cordelia.  She continues to inspire me, to hold a torch for art and it’s importance to humanity. To end an insane day, with having time with Cordelia, was a dream.  There was lots of sparkle in the finished do.  I can picture her on that sailboat now, Hi Octane Orange colored hair blowing in the soft, warm wind.  People oohing and ahhing, “Look at that gorgeous woman, she must be an artist.”  Sunset hair!

Thank you Cordelia.

Posted on May 9, 2008 and filed under Beauty, boundaries, Creativity, Friendship, Hairstyling.

The Dark Side of the Beauty Industry

I read this today and thought to myself, bravo, another mother writes about how the beauty industry is perpetuating in our young girls, the desire for it's products.  It frightens me! Referring to the 6-to 9-year old, as the "starter market?"  It almost makes me sick.  The issues that this presents is huge, and completely sad to me.  The fact that they will not allow our girls to be girls, but forces them to be concerned about image long before they are prepared to deal with the issues it presents, is truly maddening.

And, I would agree, it starts at home.  Most parents indulge the fantasy way more than I am comfortable.  I've seen it, and I know from personal experience, it is difficult to say no, to the young girl who spots pink sparkling heels her size.

What to do, but to continue to talk about it, and write about it!

Check out the mom blog for more info on this article.

Posted on March 26, 2008 and filed under Beauty, boundaries.


Okay, I've been avoiding telling you this. But admission has to do with beauty, in some twisted way. On Sunday, my daughter had her fifth birthday party. All was well, her three friends, her Nana and Bapa, her nanny and her two kids, all came to celebrate her day. Her auntie came as well. Well, this auntie had different values, and struggles to keep in alignment with her values. Who am I kidding, we all do. But there is a way, she resists my boundaries with my own child. She has been wanting, and lamenting, that I do not want her to take my daughter to a Princess Ice Show. She says in front of the group, something like, "I've been thinking about this, and I think you need to not make this a big deal." Okay. I should mention, she has a masters in social work.

So, we have the cake, and then the gifts. I have to admit this makes me uncomfortable, and feel out of control. We all watched as my daughter, painstakingly so, unwrap her gifts, legs crossed and all. She is not a ripper, she, with care and ease, removes the tape, and so on. You get the picture.

She gets to the bag my sister gave her. It is full of individually wrapped gifts, excess is what she knows. First, there is a four strand bracelet, chunky in style. Then, a necklace, a jewelry box, a large floral print shirt that cinches in at the waist, with a three-inch-in-diameter sparkling, rhinestone ring, right underneath a bra line, is she had one. For a grand finale, a Barbie.

She unwrapped it, and, of course, she hadn't seen one before, as far as I know. She exclaimed, "Barbie!", like she was a long, lost friend. She wanted to open the box then, and there. I whisked it out of her hand so quickly, and said "Later, we have guests now."

I wanted to cry, die, and pummel my sister. I felt betrayed, and like her actions were passive aggressive. I couldn't even look at this Barbie. I flung it high up into the closet. The gifts felt like they were for a woman, not a FIVE years old. Not my five year old.

I did cry. I talked to clients at work. My grounded older clients said, don't sweat it. Let her have them. There is no harm done. The more you resist, the more your daughter will want them.

My partner said he overheard our daughter playing in her room. She was sitting on the bed, looking at her valentines from school. Of course, there were a few Princess theme valentines. She told them, "You know, my mama doesn't like you."

I laughed, and then I felt sad. I can't get nothing by her. She is tuned into me, more than anybody I know.

I came home from work on Monday, and pulled the exiled Barbie down out of the closet, and gave it to her. It is disgusting for me to look at, nothing real about her. My daughter is playing with it a bit, she complains that the plastic shoes come off too easily.

This is worth a therapy session I am sure. But for now Barbie has made her way into my home and I am bereft. and still digesting it all.

Posted on February 20, 2008 and filed under boundaries, Family, Life, Love.


I left work the other day feeling as though I had just left beauty school, yes a Rocky like attitude of I can do anything, let me have at those clients.  On the other hand, a train load of inexperience and naivete.  The day did not start well with a relatively new client called because the demi-permanent color we did the other day was a little transparent on the gray hair.  So, I did what I thought I needed to do, have her come back in and retouch the color.  When she came in she suggested we play.  I didn't have the time to play.  So, we decided to tone the fettuccine size pieces with special effect colors, and retouch the level 5 base.  I told her I was a bit concerned that every time I did her hair, it's not quite right it seemed.   "But then it is."

This is the second time I have had to reappoint her because she wasn't happy.  We agreed we refining what she wants her hair to look like.  Her hair looked great when she left.  Candy apple red, mixed with burgundy wine pieces, alternating with 9.3 and 8N, 9% developer.  Pretty.  We will have to drop her base to a level 4 next time.

Then two cancellations in the middle of my day. Fatigue started to work its way into my body.  Then I had another stylists client sit in my chair for the first time, the other hairstylist is out on leave.   Her silver hair, that we weaved with spaghetti size pieces with a level 5N 20 vol., with a hint of blue accent (she said it turned warm every time with a formulation of 5NN), alternating with 6.1 vol.  The result was a navy blue where the 5N, blue accent was placed.  Blue hair, it was beautiful and would have been right for many other clients of mine who love to play.  But, not blue hair, not on this client.  I could see the blue accent oxidizing immediately.   I thought, "It will darken."  And it did, but into a deep navy blue.  My fear is that it will lighten to a shade of pale blue as she shampoos her hair.  I've been doing hair 27 years,this should not have happened, not to this client.  I think I was intimidated about seeing her.  She is the kind of person that finds it hard to let go, who needs to have her fingers in the haircut, and blow-dry her own hair.  I walked away from the chair as she did so. I alerted the other stylists, did I indeed she make the biggest mistake ever?

And to boot, I don't love what her and the other stylist are doing with her hair, so I was doing something I didn't believe looked good even in the best case scenario. It's not easy to see that I compromised my work, my ideas,and my sensibilities. I delicately said, "let's try something different, I think it could look better."  But change is too scary for her, she is much to insecure. Or maybe I am too soft to insist she needs to change.

I wanted to leave the salon.  I wanted to quit doing hair for a moment. I half expected her to call, and I suppose I still do.  Humility comes up and works its way into my life once again. Well, suffice it to say, I think I sabotaged myself.  And that is a difficult thing to look at.

The only saving grace was the primaries.  What an exciting time in history!

Posted on February 7, 2008 and filed under boundaries, Hairstyling, Politics, Salon Life.

More on the Aging Stylist

Now, I can see the other side.  My post the other day about being an aging stylist, the crone of the salon, and talking about the assistants and young stylists, has led me to this:  these younger additions to the beauty industry who have no fear of tattoos, (a California fetish), or changing their hair as often as they can, and pierce their bodies, will be sixty years old someday as well.  (I wonder what their tattoos will look like)  How they will defy their age?  Sixty will look completely different for them, as it will for me from my mother's generation.  Kudos to them for doing what they please with their look.  For being willing to look different from everybody else, in terms of their hair. I can't tell you how sad it is for me as a hairdresser to see older women, say around fifty years and older, who start restricting themselves, telling themselves they need to look older now.  They don't play anymore,they dress down, then they give up completely, barely changing out of sweat pants. It doesn't have to be this way.

Posted on January 31, 2008 and filed under Beauty, boundaries, Salon Life.

An Aging Stylist

I know it's probably not hip to speak of ones age, particularly a woman, but I have styling hair for 27 years, some days I lose count, but things are changing in the industry, and I don't know how I am fairing. I now wear readers, and yes, they hang on the tip of my nose, which ages me, maybe, 20 years.  That makes me 67 years old.  I could probably stand to wear glasses, which would age me still, maybe 10 years, which would make me 57 years old.  But I can't admit it to myself yet, that I may need glasses, or do.

The stylists around me, particularly, the apprentices paint their bodies with tattoos.  I look like plain, square, Jane, because I am tattoo-less, a rarity in California, except maybe if your 57 years old and need glasses.  But even my one client who is in her 70's got her ankle tattooed.

These same apprentices wear the lowest cut blouses and tops, and they are full in figure.  I about died when one of them came with the cell phone tucked right there in her cleavage, and she was sitting at the front desk, which if you stood there, you were right on top of the situation, no where for your eyes to go, but there.

High heels abound in the salon.  Platforms, skinny heels, all shapes and sizes, 3 inches height the minimum.  My varicose veins hurt just looking at them.

The conversation I overhear in the chair feels disingenuous and gives our industry a bad name.  Sexism is still alive and well. Who's fault is it?  The hairstylist who puts up with it, and allows it?  Or the perpetrator?  We all have our part.

We have music days at the salon, which doesn't always work out.  Each stylist gets a couple of days a month to choose what they want to listen to all day.  Hard rock and and some really foul hip-hop is what is played by some. Okay, now I feel I am unpopular, and not very hip.

The sense of entitlement that seems to go along with the music, the tattoos, the cleavage is most unbearable.  Laziness and excuses abound as explanations for what is a fundamental lack of respect for themselves and their jobs, as if to say, "If I fool you, maybe I will fool myself."  They are only fooling themselves.

Do I have their respect?  I don't know, I barely know what to say to them.  I do my work, and am very absorbed when clients sit in my chair.  I know I do need to communicate with them, I'm sure they must have much to teach me, if I would only open to them.  But I am unsympathetic to their stories, so I keep my mouth shut.

I don't think I am fairing well with these changes.  But I love what I do.  I enjoy where I work.  Our salon is better than most.  The change that needs to happen is within myself, clearly, this is where I have control.  Although, I can't remember where to begin.  The change that it would require of me is painstaking, and humbling.

Posted on January 23, 2008 and filed under boundaries, Definition of Humility, Hairstyling, Salon Life.

Called In Sick

Late Monday afternoon, while at the salon, in the back of my throat I felt that, you know, that little tickle, and my energy began to drain right out my feet.  I was suspicious, so I took five Immune capsules, which have helped me in the past, avoid all preschool bugs.  I barely ate, and went to bad, only to wake up feeling zonked.  All I could do was sleep, and managed to get one post out, but forget the trillion other things I had to do. Then Wednesday came.  I knew I had a full day at the salon, and just the night before talked it over with the receptionist.  "Yes, I will be there."  You have to know something about me.  My ability to see my situation clearly when it involves my best interest, is not my strong point.  I knew I was flat on my back and would not be able to do my work well, not to mention, be contagious.  It took my daughter yelling out a startling cry as she threw up on herself, for me to say to myself, "You are not going to work today."  And I am glad I came to my senses.

Sure enough, clients were gracious and rescheduled, and the staff at work was helpful.  I'm still dragging today, but will go in tomorrow.  See how I am?  But I've got a full day, and a class to teach in the evening.  I've got to show up, even though, the occasional shiver that runs up my body makes me want to run for the covers.

Would this be considered strong work ethics and loyalty to my clients, or just plain crazy?

Posted on January 17, 2008 and filed under boundaries, Life, Loyalty.

Ethics in the Chair, and Behind It

I have a colleague who is will be on maternity leave for four months.  I will be seeing some of her clients while she is out. I appreciate the referrals, of course. However, there are two, so far, who must blow dry their own hair, she tells me.  I'm confused here, I thought it was my job to show clients how it can look before they go home. These women are in their 50's or 60's perhaps, and seem to be very bright, competent women.  I don't understand.  Are they just unwilling to give up control for a few minutes?  Where is the insistence coming from?  And, most importantly, how do I want to handle the situation when they are in my chair? This is my profession, and they are in my chair...I want to blow dry their hair and complete the service.  I wouldn't think to tell a professional how to finish their job, especially if it had nothing to do with the performance later at home.  In fact, I need to blow the hair dry, whether it is worn curly and dried with the diffuser, or worn straight and flat-ironed.  I can see when I am drying it, where I might need to remove weight, or remove corners or, length...running my fingers through it allows me to know where I need to finesse the cut.

I'm conflicted about how to handle this with these clients. Allowing them to take control, and for me to stand back while they do this, feels funny.  Because they are not my clients, I feel I have room to say, "This is not how I do it."  Should the client have what she wants, and we do everything to provide that, including handing the blow dryer over to them.  This feels awkward, like I'm abandoning my professional ethics.  I don't want to give up control. 

 If I do hand the dryer over, than I feel that is when my service is over, and I leave the room.

Posted on December 17, 2007 and filed under boundaries.

Hair Flying

I've got twenty minutes to write.   Well, hum, I could write about salon politics, which seems to be prevalent.  Or I could write about a new client I had last week.  Luscious, thick, curly hair.  Lovely personality--witty, smart, creative and pretty, in a non-traditional way.  Her look was in-congruent with what seemed to be an alternative profession by dressing conservatively. Her voluminous hair sat heavy on her head, dragging down her already long face.  She was open and clear she wanted to keep length, so we did.  We layered, textured, channeled and lifted her hair, which took time.  A slight a-line, layered bob was the desired shape. 

To see her hair come to life by releasing it's swirls and arcs, and hair flying, an onlooker would think it was a well-thought-out choreographed dance piece.  Her hair came to life as we partnered in the dance.  We I handed her the mirror to look at the profile, she said, "I love it."

I thought to myself as she left, "This is the type of client I want to attract!"  

Everything about the experience left me fulfilled.  Boundaries existed, but they didn't color the whole event, and both of us appeared to be free in the time we shared.  Beautiful.

More please!

Posted on December 3, 2007 and filed under boundaries, Curly Hair.