“All hairdressers are equal, but some hairdressers are more equal than others.”
- An extract from ‘My Head is an Animal Farm’ by Saskia Watson
Any curly-haired person can tell you about the struggle to find a hairdresser that can actually cut their hair. As someone who has been “blessed” (I roll my eyes every time someone tells me this) with curly hair, I have had my fair share of hairdressers who have assured me they knew how to cut my hair and have then continued to hack my curls into a frizzy mess. I just sigh and know that I’ll be wearing my hair up for the next six months. So, when I find a hairdresser that manages to tame the beast that resides on my scalp, I cling to that miracle maker for life.
Unfortunately, my beloved hairdresser was not willing to move to China with me and I have dreaded having to get a haircut here. I decided just to grow out my hair until I returned to South Africa. But my hair tends to give me all sorts of hell when I grow it out. It’s as if it’s seeking revenge on me. After a month of having to force my hair into a bun to try and tame it, I was fed up. One day, out of the blue, Mr. Xiang asked if I wanted to accompany him to the hair salon. On the way there, he asks if I want to have my hair cut. I was so desperate (my hair was stuck in a bun again) that I immediately said yes.
While I was sitting in that big swivel chair in the salon, looking at how a Chinese man – who couldn’t understand a word of English – was cutting profusely at my hair in the mirror, I started to dread the outcome of this sudden decision. This man definitely didn’t know how to cut curly hair. Have you ever seen a Chinese person with naturally curly hair? He would take regular interval just to frown at my head. I could see myself wearing my hair up for the next six months. After he cut my hair, he reached for the hairdryer, and I knew this wasn’t going to end well. (Curly hair tip: you CANNOT just blow dry curly hair, unless you intentionally want to look like Michael Jackson from the 70’s)
When he finished with drying out my hair, he seemed genuinely perplexed as to why I suddenly had an afro. Mr. Xiang started laughing and I gave the hairdresser a serious death glare. He immediately started to try and straighten my hair. I could see him sweating as he tried to figure out a way to make me look semi-decent again. This was clearly the challenge of his life. Eventually he managed to flatten it using the same hair dryer that caused havoc in the first place. I thanked him, went home and spent about an hour in my room trying to straighten it myself. I managed to do this and ended up loving my new ‘do. I silently thanked the hairdresser and chuckled at the thought that I might actually return to that hair salon in a few months time. I could already see that man screaming and running out of the building, leaving some other poor hairdresser to struggle with my mane.
Ah, the joys of curly hair.