Jan 31, 2013, 05:37AM

The Hairdresser's Bond

Stylist, confidant...

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I love my hairdresser. When women find a “special one,” we always anticipate the worst, thinking she might relocate or get carpel tunnel syndrome.

Shelby is young, tattooed, plugged, pierced and dons a different hair color each time I visit her. And she’s a genius, my Vidal Sassoon. I did have a recent scare. I was overdue for cut and color, but my hair hero had mysteriously disappeared. The salon gave no information. Her cell had been disconnected. I vaguely knew where she lived and was tempted to case out her neighborhood. I went to a restaurant where she had mentioned a former roommate of hers worked. I didn’t even know his name, but when I, in panic mode, tried to explain my dilemma to the manager, he looked at me with suspicion and wouldn’t break.

Much later, I learned that all her clients were also stalking her and thinking of starting a local CSI missing person group. My hair was desperate for attention. Would I have to break up with my hairdresser? Did she break up with me? Were my locks going to be single again?

For many women, the bond with a hairstylist is the number one service relationship of their lives and may endure longer than friendships, jobs and even marriage. Says industry consultant and author, Geno Stampora, “You see a beauty professional before any important time of your life… marriage, graduation, reunions…. they’re a close friend, yet there are no ties.”

Hairdressers have to be natural psychologists as well as discreet confidantes. Shelby and I share many secrets, some of which I haven’t told anyone else. And needless to say, she has an intimate relationship with my tresses. We tend to whisper our swaps with a lot of soft “ahems.” This is not the case throughout the salon. Some clients disclose their dirty laundry as loud as a 5000W hairdryer. Working on the assumption that women do unload to their stylist, some campaigners have taken their crusade right into beauty salons. The idea was originated in Connecticut where local women’s centers trained hairdressers to identify signs of abuse and subtly hint where help was available. The idea is picking up throughout the U.S.

After a month-long meltdown and trying to cut my hair, I finally got the text. Shelby was back. At a new salon, and fresh out of rehab. I was glad for her but knew I couldn’t live through the trauma of losing her again. She tells me she’s back on track and living in an all women’s sober house. I’m worried. I wonder if I can adopt her.


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