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is it okay: to have hairdresserphobia?

I have an irrational fear of going to the hairdresser. It’s not that I think they’re going to come after me with scissors or aggressively dye my hair ridiculous colours whilst laughing malevolently, but my hesitancy is enough to make me put off making an appointment for as long as possible. Generally I can hold out until my fringe gets to the point where I’m in the running to replace the dog in the Dulux ads (or when my split ends start applying for jobs as family tree templates), at which point I sigh, take a deep breath and pick up the phone.

My fear is multifactorial. Other than things like cost and my inability to express what I want done other than ‘slightly shorter, and I’d like to be able to see, please’, when I break it down it’s about 40% due to the image in my mind of what “going to the hairdresser” looks like, and 60% past trauma.

Smalltalk is not my forte. When people attempt it with me I generally try to get into it, give up and end up accidentally jumping topics with no segues whatsoever, or else being accidentally blunt in order to fill the gaping chasm of silence which comes after something like:

Them: ‘Hey, I hear there is a new website starting up to rival Skype.’
Me: ‘Oh.’
Me: ‘…are they going to list on the stock market?’
*longer silence*
Me: ‘So, I have ten pairs of shoes.’

I don’t know anything about the stock market and while in a normal situation you can literally flee from the unnecessary awkwardness you’ve caused to someone who was simply trying to make casual conversation, when you’re at the hairdressers you are trapped in a chair making uncomfortable eye contact in the mirror. At moments like this I almost start to think back longingly to the time ten minutes earlier where I was fretfully having my hair washed, feeling self consciously conspicuous – the same way I imagine I’d feel if I used one of those public massage chairs they for some reason have in shopping malls.

Then there’s the potential for what could happen to my hair itself on any such visit. I haven’t really had an exceptional run of it in the past. Some of them were my fault – the year seven Milla-Jovovich-in-Joan-of-Arc cut was not such a crash hot idea. I learnt the hard way that you get what you deserve when you ask for something which in the movie was achieved by taking a sword to a braid – in my case, I got a perma-tea cosy look.

In the end I’ve found it best to play it safe. Years of strange haircuts and about twenty inches of what feels like essentially stolen hair over the years have taught me that in order to play it safe, step one is to go for something simple, and step two is to lie about how much you want “trimmed”. I’m fairly certain that the phrase “give them an inch, they take a mile” was coined soon after a visit to a hairdresser.

Is there a secret black market for straggly off-cuts of hair? Is an eccentric artist making an army of yeti statues? I honestly hope so, because if not, why, when you ask for 1.5 centimetres do they take 3.5 inches?

I’m not really sure why it matters so much to me. It’s not as though I’m trying to get in to the Guinness World Record book for longest hair ever (anyway, it seems like I have a better chance at the world’s longest hair related introspection piece), but when the latter happened to me I felt like a child that had been pre-maturely separated from its blanky. It could be the lack of control, it could be the fact that my hair grows reallllly slowly, but when you stand back and look at it, it’s really not that big a deal.

So, with my newfound perspective I can brush myself off, look in the mirror, see my accidentally slightly diagonal fringe and shorter-but-still-long-hair, tell myself it doesn’t matter, make myself some small talk cue cards…and still avoid making an appointment like the plague.

2 thoughts on “is it okay: to have hairdresserphobia?

  1. Praise!

    I hate hairdresser small-talk. Hate it with a fiery, fiery passion. I have actually heard lies just tumble out of my mouth because when they ask me “so, are you getting your hair cut for a special occasion?” I feel ridiculous telling the truth; “No. This was just the only day I could squeeze in and my regrowth is starting to depress me.”

    I have said I’m going to a wedding that weekend, when I’m not. I’ve said it’s my birthday – it isn’t. I’ve claimed a blind date – when I’d never do such a thing. Anything, anything! – to make me sound even slightly interesting to these women who wear high-heels to work and can apply eye-liner without blinding themselves.

    Hate it.

  2. Thank you for this article!

    I thought I was the only one with hairdresserphobia! To me, there’s nothing relaxing or enjoyable being stuck in a chair for two hours and being forced to make small talk or endure long awkward silences.

    Since my hair reverts to its natural flyaway state the day after a haircut, there’s really not much point in going through the minor trauma: these days I let my sister try out her scissor skills and end up with fewer split ends and some rather edgy angles.

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