My hair is thick, wavy, curly, and extremely stubborn. It wasn’t until I shifted from a traditional, sleek pixie to my current, messier ‘do that I realized exactly how much my hair DID NOT want to be short, straight, and orderly. At least not all three at once. When I was doing the flat-ironed pixie thing, I had to go into the salon fairly frequently to get clean-ups or my hair would start puffing out and sticking up in odd places and at bizarre angles. This was time-consuming, and costly, and frustrating. When my hair did what I wanted it to do, I LOVED it. When it didn’t, I got grouchy.
At one point I was whinging to my amazing stylist,* airing my frustration that I couldn’t get my hair to look exactly the same every single day. And her response was simple, and something I’d heard many times before. But hearing it at that moment from the person who cut and styled my hair struck me. Hard.
She said, “Well, everyone has bad hair days.”
Obvious, right? Something we’ve all been told. Nothing groundbreaking. But I really heard her this time. And here’s what occurred to me as I mulled afterward:
It is not reasonable to expect my own hair to look exactly the same every day because hair is living, because weather changes, because sometimes I sleep really weird, because I run late. There are dozens of reasons why my hair will not look exactly the same every day, even if I become quite skilled at styling it. Furthermore, it is not reasonable to expect my own hair to look “perfect” every day because perfect is an impossibility. Expecting same, perfect hair on a daily basis amounts to setting myself up for failure and frustration. Remembering that everyone has bad hair days means remembering that it’s OK to look variable and even a little flat or disheveled once in a while.
It is not reasonable to expect anyone else’s hair to look the same every day, and it certainly is not reasonable to expect anyone else’s hair to look perfect every day. All people are subject to hair growth, weather, running late, and all the rest. Remembering that everyone has bad hair days means remembering that no one in this world looks her best every single day, and that judging others is a total waste of energy.
Furthermore, it is not reasonable to expect celebrities’ hair to look the same or perfect, either. Even those who are professionally pretty have “off” days. This is one of the reasons why paparazzi-snapped images of famous people in their sweats or in the midst of hair or makeup failure are a force of evil. They reinforce the fallacy that someone who is famous, extraordinarily beautiful, and wealthy enough to employ various stylists can and should look perfect. All the time. Everyone has bad hair days. Even models like Cara Delevingne and movie stars like Reese Witherspoon. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong or shameful about it.
Know what else? Everyone has bad outfit days, too. Me, you, strangers, famous people, all of us. No matter how skilled you are at outfit assembly or how well-versed you are in trends, figure-flattery, and color pairing, you will sometimes wear things that don’t work. Even stylists like Stacy London will occasionally pull a dud that looked great in the morning but felt like a mistake by 4 p.m. This, too, is totally normal and should not cause you shame or dismay. By all means analyze what went awry and consider how to change your next outfit for the better, but don’t beat yourself up over a day of frump or clash or over-accessorization. Bad outfits are as much a part of life as breathing, sleeping, changing seasons. And everyone in the world wears them occasionally.
I still strive for good hair and fabulous outfits, of course, but this mental and emotional shift has changed me. Now, when I glance in the mirror and see unfortunate things happening atop my head, I do my best to adjust my locks but I don’t freak out. When an outfit I thought was dynamite looks totally bizarre after a few hours’ wear, I make note of what’s wrong but I don’t berate myself. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone wears weird stuff. Everyone in this lovely world of ours has bad hair days. But luckily, the sun will rise again in the morning and we can have another go with the curling iron.
*Jaimie Juettner at TC2, by the way. Go see her. She’s completely amazing.