The Strands of Change

By Cassie McClure

May 24, 2020 5 min read

I heard the joke over and over when the quarantine started: In six weeks, we'll know everyone's real hair color. Who knew that we also might get to know people's true colors when we started missing out on our regular haircuts?

I've dyed my hair regularly for about 15 years. It's hard to remember when or why I started — probably a breakup when cutting my hair was not enough but a dramatic $10 box dye did the trick. But the habit formed, and much like anything that happens on a slow slide after a change you can't back out of, it's hard to break.

At the beginning of my hair-dying journey, there were so many haphazard box dyes, like midnight black — when I looked like my mother — and fire-engine red — when I wanted to look like a character from a movie but ended up highlighting how much red is actually in my cheeks. I had to go professional. So I sit resolutely in a hair salon every six weeks to make sure that I can try and control nature.

Thanks to talented hairdressers, it's been varying shades of blond: slightly dark for a muted, sober walk into the winter seasons and then highlights in the summer for a scramble back into the sun. I enjoy my chats with my stylist. It's a small moment of hearing snippets and stories from other members of the community who come sit in her chair. Even one-on-one, it feels communal.

I'm lucky that I just decided to grow my hair out, an overall arduous process that was taken completely out of my hands — aka going back to the shears in weak moments — when the control was removed from all of us, at least all of us who haven't braved the waters of YouTube tutorials and scouted shops for the very last hair clippers. Mine were the last ones at CVS.

While my daughter continues to emulate Rapunzel, my husband's undercut needed more taming, and my young son complained about hair in his eyes. My husband is now growing out a slightly more hipster look while we do as much as we can to keep down the sides. However, my little guy looks now like Friar Tuck thanks to a heavy-handed and stressful session at Salon de Mama, which came from the good ol' American attitude of "I got this!"

I've fallen prey to some early quarantine cultural pushes: Achieve more! Produce more! Be extra present with the children! (Because it's time you never get back, ya monster!) There has been intense pressure to get back to normal, to get back in the chair and cover this new growth of change, and to get us back on the track to where we were going.

But, was that direction really working for all of us?

The sun is starting to give me back my natural highlights, the ones I never knew to enjoy before I paid ungodly amounts of money to put them in artificially. I also thought I had more gray hair. Strangely, I'm liking what I see in the reflection more.

Writer Ashley C. Ford recently tweeted, "You are watching people go through the withdrawal from the emotional addiction to the myth of security." But it's not just the myth of security; it's the myth of identity under pressure. We tend run from ourselves and the work we need to do. It's hard to sit with our discomfort, and our culture gives us plenty of opportunities to allay that discomfort. However, on the other side of discomfort, or other side of change, there is growth. Maybe it'll be up to us to give growth a chance.

The quarantine has been an unintended experiment to see myself change without any extra shellacking, in more ways than just the hair. It's trying to be present with my family, but it's also about being present with myself when I'm reaching a boiling point. It's realizing that what cools my discomfort is the relationships I have with people. It isn't distractions that help; it's just being there in the moment and having someone sit and chat with you. Maybe there's more to what we're missing at the salon than just our haircuts and color.

Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at [email protected] To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: jackmac34 at Pixabay

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