To cut or not to cut?

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Once every six weeks or so, a woman has a certain window of opportunity that makes her feel as if she’s on the verge of greatness – like anything could happen. The window opens about 10 minutes before a haircut appointment. And for those 10 minutes, we women flirt with the idea of doing something crazy.

This is especially true for women in the midst of growing their hair longer or for those of us who get our hair colored. (And for the record, I color my hair because I want to. The fact that the hair color also happens to remedy the valley of grey hairs sprouting up along my part is just a happy accident. But I digress.)

The more hair options you have, the crazier things can get. “What if I just cut it all off this time? I could walk out of that salon with a whole new look. I really could. Should I try something new? Would I regret it? What if it was amazing and I was so glad I did it?” The questions swirl around in our minds as we consider the big question: To cut or not to cut?

Men don’t understand the indecisive angst that precedes a woman’s haircut. For most guys, it’s just hair. Men are comfortable with getting their hair cut by a vacuum cleaner attachment. They’re not choosy creatures. Most of them spend about one second contemplating their next hairstyle and that second happens as soon as the barber asks them how they want it cut. “Just clean it up,” they say.

After that, they devote their brain power to more productive pursuits, like what to eat for lunch or weighing the benefits of a plasma TV versus an LCD screen.

salon chairBut for a woman, a haircut is an event to be cherished. We plan on it and look forward to it. I don’t wash my hair before I go to the salon, but I do take a little extra time on my makeup and the reason has everything to do with that moment when the stylist turns the chair around to face the mirror. That moment is what we call “the big reveal.” It’s like those home renovation shows when the owner walks into the remodeled kitchen and squeals with delight when she sees the changes.

The big reveal is as close as most of us get to having our “Cinderella moment.” And that’s why women are typically so loyal to a hair stylist. She’s the scissor-wielding fairy godmother who spins us around in her magic chair and transforms a shaggy, greying forty-something into a vibrant, refreshed young woman who looks like she just stepped out of a Pantene commercial.

After considering all the options and browsing through at least 50 celebrity hairstyle photos, I usually say these three little words when the stylist asks me how I want it cut: “Just a trim.” (Then I berate myself for being a hair coward.)

But one of these days, I’m going to do it. I’ll work up just enough courage or reckless abandon during that 10-minute window of opportunity, and I’ll walk out of the salon with a Halle Berry pixie cut or a modern bob of blazing red hair. I’ll shout, “Take that, world! I am the master of my own hair destiny!” I’ll be drunk on power and high on hairspray fumes.

Of course, no one will hear me shout triumphantly about my hair in the empty parking lot, but I just know it’s going to feel really good. Maybe next time.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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