I live and learn. Today, I learned about a subject I have never come across so far in my life. I heard it on the BBC while I was washing my hair, so it must be true — the BBC story, not my hair.
OK, OK. I’ve heard of hair that’s straightened after a bad perm but learning that there’s a whole profitable industry out there straightening naturally curly hair so that its owners can swing their hair sexily is both an eye-opener and hair raising, if you would pardon my pun.
Perhaps I’ve been out of the hairdressers for so long, I don’t know what goes on nowadays within the confines of a hair salon, or a perm-parlour as it was once called, when I was a child and my mother and her friends ran one together, to help put jam on our bread which dad brought in.
I have stopped going to the hairdressers for about a dozen years, having reached the acme of hair dressing extravagance by patronising Mosche when it opened at Tang Plaza when I was still in my youth and believed that paying good money would guarantee a great hair cut.
After a few indifferent visits and spending more money than was good for my bank account, I slowly sank to the depths.
I moved first to no-name holes in the wall at Lucky Plaza where domestic helpers went for $10 no-frill hair cuts. Then I discovered a HDB home-hair dresser who charged the same but offered more privacy. The drawback was it was by appointment only as the home-hair dresser had to attend to other higher priority non-hairdressing chores be4 anything else.
Then by chance, I found out the hair salon at the Tanglin Club charged prices — at that time — that weren’t much higher than what I paid at Lucky Plaza or to the HDB lady. So it was a no brainer to switch to having my hair done at the club.
That didn’t last. Let’s say the woman who ran/runs (?) the club’s salon wasn’t my style and after a huffy 2nd visit, I decided to cut my own hair. Not quite uninspired tho, as I know a highly placed corporate heart-stopper who trims her own fringe and another secretary to several hot shot journalists who keeps her thick crop of hair in place with a severe do-it-herself Jiang Qing cut.
Thus started my do-it-myself hair cuts and I’ve not looked back since. Apart from saving money (which isn’t a lot, considering where I was going to after Mosche), it was convenient. I cut whenever I feel my hair needs a trim, any time, anywhere, to the surprise of travel companions, sharing room with me for the first time. To see me at the bathroom sink, confidently, almost carelessly, trimming my hair, just be4 lights out!
My long separation from hair salons or studios or whatever they call them nowadays explains why I haven’t heard of the practice of hair relaxing using hair relaxers.
I find it amusing if not ironical that we Asian women have made it almost a ritual to have our straight hair curled or permed regularly in order to be able to do “something” with it, while at the other side of the world, women born with hair that’s abundantly curly are spending oodles to have it straightened — again in the name of “better management”.
According to the BBC, the hair relaxers market is worth more than a billion $ worldwide and their users are mainly Afro-Carribean women who think straightened hair makes them more like Europeans.
Sad isn’t it, we Asians do just the opposite — that is curl our hair — also to make us more like, dare I say it, the Europeans?
If only more of us women can learn to be comfortable with what we are born with and we may have more time and money for other things.
In case anyone wants to listen to the BBC hair relaxing program here it is: