Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt a little disappointed in what you see? Do you look a bit jaded, a little older than you wished? Do you look a little bit like your mother, or, worse still (if you are a woman) your father? Whiskers, nasal hair? That's not to infer that one's parents are, shall we say, on the ugly side. Of course not. The scary thing is that with ageing, one does tend to look like one's ancestors, and usually, the older ones!
So, bearing that in mind, you look in the mirror and decide that you need a new image. A complete makeover. Surgery. No, not surgery. To begin with, it could change your face so completely, and then whenever you look at yourself in the mirror in the years to come, you would wonder who it is that is staring back at you. More importantly, surgery is far too painful - and expensive!
So then, go shopping; that could create a new image. But quite often, when squashed into a rather-too-small changing room, with the fluorescent lights making your cellulite sing and giving you a strangely blue hue, the new clothes you're trying on no longer have the desired effect of making you feel like a new woman1.
So having dismissed surgery and clothes, the only thing left to think of changing is your hair.
Consider Your Hair
The thought of going to a new hairdresser is quite daunting. So many decisions to make. Too many decisions to make. To begin with - which hairdresser? You may find that the easiest way to take the plunge is to google hairdressers and without a second thought, phone the one that's at the top of the page. Don't start to think which may be best; they are all the same, so save yourself another hour of angst - just dial away and make the appointment. Already you will be feeling better.
That feeling of elation and rediscovered confidence may not last too long because the next thing one has to consider is what to wear for the visit! Image is essential. First impressions last a lifetime. Do you always want to be labelled as the one who turned up wearing a rather creased blouse and scuffed shoes, or someone who was co-ordinated, sophisticated and cool? Surely, the best first impression to give is of a modest yet completely competent, educated, wholesome being? One that is poised and self-confident.
But What to Wear?
Looking into your wardrobe and taking the first thing that catches your eye, as on an ordinary day, is not how to get dressed for this appointment. Choosing a suitable colour scheme and then, from one's accessory drawer, completing the ensemble is usually not difficult; five minutes later and you're dressed! However, on the morning of the visit to your new hairdresser, even with plenty of time to spare, your wardrobe can sometimes look quite barren and dated. Again the question arises - the dilemma, what to wear?
Your past is quite important. Life's delicious experiences have moulded you and created you. They made you the person you are today. If, for example, you have spent the last 30 years recovering from time wasted in art college, you might never have got past the phase of wearing the scruffiest outfit to be found at the bottom of the laundry basket. An aged art student is not a good image. Is this the one you should project? First impressions last longest. Smart business woman? That could work. Do bear in mind, though, that the new image the hairdresser creates for you (smart bob, severe fringe, totally symmetry, perfection) may last no longer than it takes for you to run a careless swipe of your hands through your newly-coiffed hair.
So instead of either of these two extremes, decide to wear something comfortable, something that's tried and tested, and hope that one's personality still shines through. Avoid trying on the whole of your wardrobe. Three changes of clothes are recommended as the ideal number. A choice of just two doesn't give enough comparison. More than three and confusion and even more indecision follow. Quite often, that old pair of jeans will suit the bill. You know, the ones that give your butt a nice peachy shape, that cost you a fortune, so therefore you wear them all the time. Team them up with your favourite pink t-shirt. (After all, you will only be wearing the outfit for the appointment. As soon as you get home, you will be stripping off and diving into the shower, firstly to get rid of all the itchy bits of hair that have managed to fall down your back and elsewhere, and secondly, of course, to restyle your new hair-do.) Pink earrings could really set it off, especially if you intend to visit a barber2.
The Art of Conversation
The other thing that often freaks people out when visiting a new salon is the conversation one has with said new hairdresser. The art of conversation has died in such establishments. Holidays are the top of everyone's safety list of conversations - that and, of course, the weather. So predictable. One needs to introduce an unexpected theme. For example, talk about the fors and againsts of visiting a damp and windy funfair on a bank holiday weekend, the pros and cons of treating oneself to a delightfully pink candy floss, and why it always melts before one gets to the stick.
So, as the time draws near, don't panic! Approach the door with confidence. Just before you enter, breathe in, tuck your belly well down under your waistband and hope no one notices those scuffed shoes. Smile with all the confidence that you can summon. Be grateful when they ask you to take a seat and be thankful in the knowledge that before you can say Jack Robinson, you will be completely swaddled in three or four of the blackest towels you can imagine.
Usually, the next 45 minutes or so will pass in a bit of a blur. Don't worry; this is a normal reaction to any stressful situation. When your new best friend offers you a coffee, accept. Having a coffee will give you something to do while you surreptitiously look around the room in the reflection of the mirror. Take note of the other stylists. Is their hair to your liking or does it look as though they are all wearing hats. If hats are aplenty, when your new best friend asks, 'How do you want it then?', tone down your answer. Say you would like a change of image, but nothing too dramatic. Inform him, or her, that your blow-drying skills are slight, you don't own a hair straightener, and time is always tight in the morning. He will nod in a very reassuring way, understanding your requirements to the letter. This fills you with glee that your new best friend really does know where you are coming from. Take delight at this point and really relax, while they usher you to the sinks to wash your hair. Don't complain too much, either, when the water is too cold. It will soon heat up with such ferocity that you will be reminded of the scalded cat story. Water down the ear will be to your advantage, as you will not be able to hear the babble of conversation between the girls that are doing the hair washing, just bubbles bouncing around your eardrum.
And so it is time to retake your seat. The intensity at which your new best friend begins to cut is a good sign. A serious frown from him and maybe a tongue just slightly protruding from the side of his mouth means that he is in deep concentration. He has an image in his mind that will transform the mop that you have into a wonderful work of art - one that will be easy to maintain, and will flatter your neck line. And when he asks where are you going for your holidays, the easiest thing to do is just shrug and point to your ear. He'll presume that you are deaf (which you are temporarily) at which point conversation will cease.
After a while, you will either be alarmed or depressed at the amount of hair that is lying on the floor. Again a natural reaction. Forget it. You are in the hands of a professional; he knows what he is doing; he understands. When the hair dryer comes out, try to zone out. Don't watch how much mousse or styling gel is being applied to your hair, it is not important, and try not to wince too obviously when he's chatting to a lady behind him with the hair dryer pointing full blast into your ear. It is after all removing the excess water you have accumulated earlier. The burn will soon heal.
It's All Over
Eventually, after a great deal of tweaking and teasing with the end of a very fine comb, and half a can of hairspray, a mirror which is too small will be offered so that you can look at the back of your head. Don't look. It's a waste of effort. If you do manage to get the briefest of glimpses, you won't recognise what you see anyway. How often does one look at the back of one's head? With a new image, it could very well be a photograph of one of his stylists' hats that you were staring at earlier. But smile anyway and congratulate him on his efforts, as quite often this will make him turn into a peacock3.
Pay the lady on the desk happily. Smile with the same confidence you did as you entered just less than an hour ago, wave to your new best friend and reassure him that you will make another appointment when you have your diary with you.
Go home and take a shower. Remind yourself that it will all grow back, then book a holiday in the sun; maybe that's all that you really needed for a new image... just a healthy glow!