At 19, with seven years of hair growth laid to rest in a dumpster behind a West Hollywood salon, my self-image was forever altered. Where my long hair had provided me last-ditch popularity credentials (at least where boys were concerned) my new hair accomplished the opposite. My new hair declared me the prodigal outcast, headed back to the fringe without apology. My new hair talked back to the mirror. My new hair had balls.
As I descended the carpeted staircase of our upper middle class home, I could hear my mother in the kitchen sharpening the tools of her suffering. I anticipated some resistance, but didn’t imagine there would be tears. I wasn’t entirely sure her tear ducts still functioned. Such is the cruel truth about daughters and mothers. And there we stood, facing each other across the avocado-green tile counter. Two petite women with very little hair, equalized by our self-loathing, unified in our disdain for each other, humbled by the power of a haircut.