I believe that good hair is the ultimate accessory. Unfortunately I don't have it. Beautiful hair can transform a bad outfit to an "interesting" outfit, can make an unattractive person "stylish" and can subtract years from an aging face. It's an accessory that money can improve upon, but can't necessarily buy.
Which is why most of us women are rabid when it comes to spending way too much time and money on the appearance of our hair. Appearance being the operative word. Like a well-tailored black shirt that slims, good-looking hair is generally an illusion.
I've only met a few people who actually like and have a good relationship with their hair. Most people, regardless of how silky their locks, are more than willing to share with you the details of their daily styling nightmare.
Take the cute blonde I hung out with the other night; perfectly straight, shiny, bright blonde summery hair. I told her I thought her hair was really beautiful and then I learn that it's been colored, exhaustively ironed and then sprayed down to hide the fly-aways. She, on the other hand, admired my frizzy mop, which to even approach "ok", has to be doused with pricey shampoo/rinse-out conditioner/leave-in conditioner/styling gel and a brief stint with a hair dryer. And that's how it goes.
I blame media and advertising. For years we've all been sold on the idea of a magic formula that can fix whatever ails your hair. And it's all just bullshit. Either you were born with it or you have the time and money to make it look that way. That's the bottom line. No amount of "special brunette curl-enhancing, anti-frizz conditioning, color-boosting, shine-intensive serum" is going to put things right with my hair. I'll never be the adventurous cross-country chick who with one tug of her knotted 6-foot ponytail, can disassemble an entire burger stand, then playfully shake it off as she climbs back into the camper with her exquisitely hirsute companions. "We too, would feel your pain if it weren't for this product" is what the advertising companies want us to believe of thier models. Again, bullshit.
I go to an expensive salon every couple of months to get a cut and color. I foolishly get my hopes up each time. This will finally be the stylist who will scientifically factor in the shape of my face, the curl of my hair, my height, the color of my eyes, and the date of my birth in order to create a spectacular low-maintenance style that suits me perfectly. I want our interaction to be an intensive in-depth discussion as if my hair were an unsolved theorum of Einstein's and this young graduate from Beauty School is just the genius to solve it. Alas, I always leave looking pretty much the way I came in minus the gray and a couple of inches of dead-ends. Sometimes worse, because they don't seem to know what to do with my curls. I can see the sense of failure in their eyes as they pretend to admire the final results. "Don't you look pretty?"
I think a true test for beauty might be the reality show "Survivor". A month in the wilderness without proper sleep, showers and primping quickly shows us what we are all an apocalypse or a paycheck away from.
I envy my husband. My nickname for him is "The Cat" because like a cat, he can wake up and look exactly the way he did when he went to sleep. He shaves his head to a barely-there quarter-inch. He can do this himself without having to spend a ton of money on a stylist. He can make a bottle of .99 cent shampoo last for months. Unfortunately, I don't have the bone structure of a Sinead or Portman to pull this dream off.
I fantasize about wigs. Not the cheap "grandma going to church" wigs, but whole wardrobe of them such as they might have at SNL. Black women don't feel any shame for wearing what is obviously fake hair; it's just another accessory. I can't wait until we white women come to the same conclusion. I want about twenty of them; long, short, straight, curly, blonde, red, brunette. How fun would that be?
I like my hair for the most part. It has its merits. And I'm sure that if some other woman were in charge of it, she could make it look pretty rockin'. I'm just not that patient. And even though I know it's a futile farce, I'll still keep spending too much money on styling products and still let myself occasionally believe that everyone around me just came by it naturally.