by Jess Burnquist
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is listening does it make a sound? If I'm a mom, and I put on a pair of jeans, am I automatically wearing mom jeans? And, if I'm a mom, and I have hair on my head, do I automatically have mom hair? Do I really need to be schooled on how to avoid mom hair if it's unavoidable to begin with? In Bee Shapiro's New York Times article, experts weighed in on how women who are mothers can and should avoid "mom hair." What a relief. I needed to worry about this more than the upcoming election, my son's senior year, and my mammogram results.
Thank goodness for stylist Juan Carlos Maciques who took time out of his busy day to offer his perspective of hair on the heads of mothers. "I see it all the time," said Maciques, a stylist at the Rita Hazan salon in Manhattan. "The first thing new moms want to do is cut their hair off. They're feeling lousy about their bodies, and they just want to get some sense of self again. But, usually, to cut off your hair is a big mistake."
Hmm. I suppose that many mothers might be adjusting to their bodies post birth in between feedings and what not. I mean, I know that post C-section with my son, the first thing I wanted to do was pee on my own. I forgot to worry about my hair. Good thing there were a plethora of magazines and news segments lauding celebrities who gave birth to babies. Celebrity moms who not only took off their baby weight in a matter of moments, but also had their stylists give them non-mom hair! Dang. I probably shouldn't have scheduled that haircut after the birth of my first child. Oh, wait. I didn't. I'm pretty sure I wore my hair in a ponytail for three weeks because showering with a newborn is some kind of luxury I hope Juan Carlos Maciques' male/father clients get to experience one day — if their dad hair doesn't distract them too much from, you know, keeping their newborns alive.
I sure wish I'd had this advice from Marciques after the birth of my daughter as well,
"Indeed, Mr. Maciques recommends that new mothers wait about a year before they make any drastic changes. 'By then, you'll know what you've got,' he said. 'It's not just your hair that's changing. Your body is, too. You might not be at the weight you really want to be yet. And the truth is, long hair can be a little bit of a distraction. When you go short, you are more exposed. There's less, literally, to hide behind."
I suppose the passage of a human being through my vagina is pretty drastic. Why cut my hair too? I mean, like he asserts, I may need to hide. What is it exactly that I am hiding though? Am I hiding a new-mom chin? Am I hiding evidence of my femininity? I suppose I'm hiding my face because society can't deal with my body's changes. That or the birth of a child has somehow soiled me and so I will protect the weak with my long bangs.
I have a pregnant friend with a baby shower coming up. I can't wait to bestow on her this nugget of wisdom that Maciques imparts,
"Ideally, you'd start planning while you're still pregnant," he said. "For hair color, you'll want to go more natural by the third trimester. An ombré is a really nice way to address the fact you're going to be having fewer hair appointments."
Forget planning for child care if she's a working mother, or planning a nursery, or thinking about the balancing acts that will be required for newborn care with her partner or especially the juggling that will be required if one is a single mother. Why should one worry about collecting necessary items for her young when she could be Pinterest-ing pictures of ombré hair and steeling her resolve to resist the urge to cut her hair into an unforgivable mom-bob?
Listen, moms. There's no need to be your age. There's no need to choose a style that makes functioning with children more simple, especially if it lands you in the category of "frumpy woman." There's no need to cut you hair in a way that permits you to focus on what you can offer your children and society at large if the result is going to be mom hair. And some guy named Kenna, the founder of the Kennaland salon in Brooklyn's Greenpoint, has tricks for you too,
"Another trick that has resonated with some of Kenna's clientele is cutting the bangs slightly too short. 'It gives off this teenage feeling of irresponsibility and youthfulness,' he said."
Well, hell. I cut my own bangs all the time. And typically, I cut them slightly too short. Good thing that I must be emanating a teenage feeling of "irresponsibility and youthfulness" because I am not only raising two teenagers, I teach classrooms full of them too, and the last thing I want to model for them is the notion that I am comfortable in my adulthood, my womanhood, my motherhood, and my brand new I've-got-nothing-to-hide pixie cut.
Jess Burnquist teaches high school English and Creative Writing in Arizona. Because she has a teenage son and daughter, she is literally surrounded by adolescents 24/7. Sit with that for a minute. Her writings and teaching blog can be found at www.jessburnquist.com.