There are certain places I get anxious about visiting, where an expert is going to tell me what I'm doing wrong or point me in some informed direction. As in, I avoid the dentist because I fear what they are going to say about my teeth (don't do this, but I understand). I try not to make eye contact with personal trainers at the gym because I don't want to hear about my form or why I should do burpees (I'm fine with my current routine, thank you). The one place that never makes me feel this way is the salon.
As a child, at those first forays into real haircuts, I loved sitting in the salon chair to experience the first time a stylist ran their fingers through my hair. "Wow, you have such nice hair!" They would stroke my head, play around with my locks, tussle it about. I could appreciate feeling like a prized pet.
I had some ups and downs with my hair persona in my teenage years with hard-to-style bobs and that weird era when we all wore too many butterfly clips and colored rubber bands. I went through an obsessive phase of needing to slick back any and all flyaways, which made me look bald in photos. Still, amidst these experimentations of style, I had those salon moments that helped me to fully appreciate the hair I was born with.
"Do you color your hair?" Nope. This blonde is all me.
"Does everyone in your family have hair like this?" Pretty much. I come from a long line of thick-haired people with loose waves. Both of my grandmothers had and have plenty of hair late into life.
"Do you do anything to your hair?" I shampoo and condition it, usually every day, and I don't even own a brush. No heaps of product or hours of styling, my hair is pretty good to me without intervention.
What truly became my signature hair happened when I moved away from home. It was the Summer after my first year in art school, my closest friends and I all happened to get haircuts with blunt bangs. It's one of those things many of us try, regret, and then grow back out. My friends quickly went through that journey. Not me. I felt like I found my perfect look. It worked well when I was three years old and it worked well at 20. The more I grew, moving across the country, experiencing extreme heartache, getting new jobs, the more the consistency of my hair felt powerful: long wavy hair and blunt bangs.
The look came into popularity for moments and faded. Zooey Deschanel had the look, and because we share the same name it was weird for a time, I wondered if people thought I was emulating the New Girl star too much, but still I held strong in my hair identity. Years after having the look — air-dried waves and short blunt bangs — I'd still get complimented on my tried-and-true, low-maintenance hair (all it takes is a quick comb through the bangs and a twice-monthly bathroom trim). Even eight years later, as the blonde is fading into an extra-dirty blonde that's nearly all brown, I fully own my signature hairstyle.