anne_mikolay_2012_120Let’s face it, ladies. How we feel about our physical appearance has a lot to do with our hair. Why else would we spend so much money on hair products? Most women love being pampered at the salon, emerging afterward renewed and rejuvenated.

I’m not one of those women.

I dislike going to the salon and cringe when someone else washes/cuts my hair. I might even have  tonsure-phobia, the fear of haircuts. Yes. There is such a thing; I looked it up. Like most phobias, my distaste for salons stems from my childhood.

Back in the days when salons were beauty parlors frequented and run only be women, my dad took my sister and I to a place called “Cut & Curl” which popped out an assembly line of identical, stiffly-coiffed or tightly curled 1960s housewives. At that time, variation in style or products other than Aqua Net hairspray did not exist, and little girls did not voice their opinions. We wore what our parents told us to wear, and that included hairstyles. Thus, I said goodbye to my long hair and hello to an ugly pixie cut. I became an eight year old, mini-Mia Farrow among my peers who all had beautiful, long hair (though I doubt Mia Farrow hid in the school bathroom like I did so nobody would see her pixie cut).

Thus began my fear of salons. When I was older, I protested the severe pixie cut and grew my hair as long as I could. Every once in a while, my older sister trimmed my hair so I wouldn’t look like Morticia Adams. I was perfectly content with my long locks until Dorothy Hamill introduced me to what I like to call celebrity style pressure, aka the desire to look as good as a beautiful celebrity. A slew of young women, myself included, hurried into salons and came out Hamill clones.

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I was happy with my neat, boring Hamill cut, but quickly fell victim to “the grass is always greener on the other side,” or in this case, “the hair is always prettier on the other gal” syndrome.  A phrase I recently heard on television perfectly describes the pressure we women put upon our physical selves: “compare and despair.” When I have short hair, I notice women with long hair more often; when my hair is long, I admire trendy, shorter styles. I compare and despair.

So what do we ladies do? Acknowledge our hairstyle can have a serious impact on our confidence and self-esteem, and then dismiss that fact as the silly drivel it is. Tonsure-phobic or not, I am the same person with short hair or long hair. I will never have Jennifer Aniston’s silky locks or achieve the stylish perfection of the late Diana Spencer, and if truth be told, nobody can without an entourage of stylists in tow. Today I have short hair. In a few months, I will have long hair. Whippee. I’m still me.

And that’s the long and the short of it.

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Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...