So Long ...Hair...
...When my mothers' parents passed, she was barely a toddler.
As the youngest of five children, and being female the mid-1950's, South Korea; her extended family did not take her in. Instead they gave her to a Buddhist temple.
This is where my mother's memories begin... Her head shaved, her body covered in re-purposed vestments. She explained to me that no one told her there was a family somewhere to which she belonged. No one told her she had a birthday or siblings or parents. No one held her, kissed her boo-boos or read her bedtime stories.
These are the stories she recounted to me as she braided my long hair each night so that it would not tangle in bed by morning. She taught me how lucky I was to have a mother and father, brothers... and hair.
It started before I can remember... My attachment to my hair as a security blanket. On the rare occasion that she announced it was the right moon to trim my hair, I would stand over a paper grocery sack, and she would carefully cut a few inches straight across the ends.
My mother likened hair trimming to garden pruning and the farmer's almanac. She believed the new moon was the best time to prepare my hair for new growth.
On these rare hair-cutting occasions, I was sad to lose any length. I would constantly turn around to bid farewell to the strands falling from my mother's fingers into the bag. "It's okay. These are just the dead parts, where the ends are splitting," she would reassure me.
From what I could see of my maternal Korean heritage, hair cutting was closely related to mourning and growth. I watched my mother and all of her married friends trade their long locks for short bobs. It seemed like a right of passage I would reach when I got married, had children...
Then I found myself in my 30's, going through a lot of big shifts and changes... Last I went to my friend, Dena's workplace, insisting, "I'm ready! Chop it all off!"
Dena ran her fingers over my scalp and through my mane, "Ev, I don't think you want to do that right now. That's a BIG cut!"
She Googled ideas, and we compromised on a medium hair length, allowing me to donate 10 inches to Locks of Love while also keeping shoulder's length.
For many months afterwards, showering felt strange without my wet blanket of warm hair over my back... At moments, I was reduced to a child again, crying, "But I'm not ready for a big girl hair cut. I'm not married. I don't have kids... I need my hair security blanket!"
Nevertheless, 1 1/2 years later, much stronger and more resilient; I am preparing for the biggest cut of my life! Still single. Still not a mother... But finally ready to let go of my blanket of hair!
...Now that Dena and I have built a rapport beyond our friendship, as stylist and client; she is confident to recommend ideas that she knows will suit my face and personality. She trusts my decision... and no longer has concern that I will regret it and hold her accountable.
Dena has also made great personal strides in the last year, opening her own salon in Brewerytown, Lather Hair Studio. She was so excited to show me, that we found ourselves there one night, late after another gal's art exhibition opening...
"How do you feel about Bettie Page bangs?" Dena inquired.
"I dig it," I smiled, admiring her immaculate new salon.
She sat me down in her chair and began buzzing away at my bangs with electric clippers.
...Over the next few months I would adore her vision of my hair in photos friends took- Especially the extraordinarily talented, Lisa Schaffer's photos...
...We were discussing photo ideas from this perspective; from above, of me laying down. Lisa offered to take a shot of me this way, with objects of sentimental value.
That was when it really hit me- I was ready! "What if we cut my hair... and have it still laying on the floor over my head?" My security blanket... detached.
Lisa was sold, "Let's do it at a salon, so you can get up and get styled right away."
Before I contacted Dena the next day, the idea had been conceived, "How would you like to host a Locks of Love benefit at Lather Hair Studio?"
Within a week I had registered our event with Locks of Love. Lather's neighboring eatery, Rybrew offered to provide light refreshments... and to create a way for people to give who do not have 10 inches to cut and donate, Dena came up with a generous solution!
50% of the money
from all other hair cuts will be donated to
Locks of Love by Lather Hair Studio
Lisa also offered to stay and take simple before and after portraits for participants!
...It never ceases to amaze me... What a few women can do when they put their heads together!
.......................But one last thing, and I will need some help with this... I have heard nay-sayers complain about whether Locks of Love is a worthy cause. I do not want to ignore or argue with this statement. I do not know the people running it... I am going to keep the faith that our work will benefit children who need wigs!
However, I am adding a challenge for the local real estate agencies, and other larger corporations who do business in Brewerytown...
If a handful of women can do this in our spare time, WHO will MATCH our raised funds?
We will send our funds collected to Locks for Love, as we promised. We ask you to match the amount we raise and invest the sum back into the community around Lather Hair Studios.
Brewerytown is a diverse area that is experiencing rapid gentrification. There is a need to help the area transition without displacing its current residents. Initiatives already exist to facilitate volunteerism and foster community oneness. Let's help the process... If WE can, YOU can!