The other day, my friend Mary posted about a great haircut she'd gotten at Great Clips. Which of course led to a whole series of comments about where people are getting their haircut, how much they're paying, etc.. Being me, I of course volunteered my salon's information, which ended up leading into a discussion about why I had left my last salon.
I just want to say here and now, I'm not a salon hopper as a habit. I leave a salon for a small handful of reasons, which usually revolve around the stylist moving, I've moved, or I'm unhappy with the costs or services. I went to a salon in Sterling Heights for almost four years. I loved the salon, the stylist, the colors, and the cuts, but in the last year I was there, my stylist was getting so overbooked that her services started to suffer. My final straw was when I got my hair highlighted and there was noticeable root "growth" that had never gotten colored to begin with.
Small digression: I love my hair. I have great hair. Therefore, spending a few extra dollars on my hair is okay with me, especially when I'm employed. Finding a stylist you like and who does a great job can be difficult. In the five years I lived in Chicago, I spent the first 18 months searching for a stylist I liked. The search proved fruitless and in the end it was easier for me to travel back and forth between Chicago and Royal Oak for great hair cuts and color. So I know how difficult is to find a new stylist.
After I left the salon in Sterling Heights, I went back to the salon I'd been going to in Royal Oak when I lived in Chicago (logistically that's kind of hard to follow, I'm sure). I LOVE the stylist I had at this salon. She was friendly, she was quick, she was efficient, and I LOVE her work. I do. On the rare occasion my usual stylist couldn't fit me in, I'd go to the owner, whom I also adore.
It was the rest of the salon I couldn't deal with.
At first, I tried to shrug off my feelings of discomfort. As someone who has been plus-size the majority of her adult life, I'm always very conscious of the fact that I am most likely the largest woman in the establishment. Normally, after a short while, say twenty minutes to a half hour, I relax and enjoy myself. Usually, I can even forget all about my size and its connotations.
But occasionally, I can't.
And my last salon was no exception. In fact, the longer I went there, the more noticeable it was that I was the fat kid.
Though I have my rare moments, I'm not someone who slacks off in the appearance department. My hair and make up are almost always done, and while I'm not trendy, my clothes are still stylish. I have fun jewelry, love to experiment with make up and if there's a fault to be had in my appearance, it's that I really don't give a flying fig about my nails so sometimes they're either broken or unfiled. Combined with the fact I shower on a daily (or more) basis, there's really no reason to stop and stare when you see me on the street.
Except for my size of course. Which in all honesty, I'm not 100% convinced I'm large enough for people to stare at.
Yet every time I stepped foot in that Royal Oak salon, I felt like I could be the mother of Gilbert Grape. Google it if you need a refresher.
People would constantly stare at me. I mean, sure, sitting in a chair with foil squares on top of your head isn't exactly the norm, but it's not out of place at a hair salon. Since I would go over my appearance with a fine tooth comb before I went in the salon, I knew I hadn't sprouted a third arm, or more likely, spinach in my teeth or whatever. Again, I'm not some country bumpkin who just won the lotto and came to the big city from my Holla (Hollow) because I wanted a make-over.
In the mirror I could see the smirks. The "Oh look, the fat girl thinks she's going to be prettier if she gets her hair done at an expensive salon" smirk from a patronizing stylist. Some clients would just stare right through me as if I wasn't there, which always amazes me. How do you not see the proverbial elephant in the room? The worse were the double takes. The people who would just be walking along casually from the shampoo bowl back to their stylist's chair, not really paying attention to anything but then they'd look in my direction and BOOM! I felt like they couldn't get back to the chair fast enough to tweet about the latest fat kid sighting. And every time I went to pay for my services, I couldn't get through the transaction fast enough to get away from the pitying looks.
When I found myself hiding in the bathroom while waiting for my color to develop on my last visit I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going back.
Again, my decision had nothing. at. all. to do with my stylist; I still refer clients to her occasionally. And truthfully, I feel bad for leaving without saying a word. I'm sure the owner, one of the nicest guys imaginable, would feel absolutely horrible if I told him why I left. Looking back, I should have said something. It wouldn't have changed anything for me, but perhaps they could have had sensitivity training or something (cue bad The Office scenes here). I don't know.
But for now, I'm perfectly content to continue seeing my new stylist in another Royal Oak salon where women of all sizes work and get their hair done.