People are complimenting my hair. This is new for me. “Thank you!” I exclaim every time. “I got it cut at Melonhead!” Then, they laugh and make the same joke: “Did you sit in the princess car/rocket ship/Thomas-the-Tank engine?” (Melonhead is a chain of kids’ hair salons). But I don’t care because I’m just so goddamn happy to have good hair. Not just good hair—the best hair of my life.
The last time people complimented my hair was probably three years ago, before I had two kids. Since then, my hair has been thin from postpartum hair loss and lank from lack of styling time. I considered it a lost cause. But, even before that, I had problematic hair. Extremely fine. Frizzy in some places, straight in others. Fans of The Office might recognize it as Pam Beasley hair. Top that look off with a bunch of cowlick whorls all over my head, inherited from my mother. I actually have good hair for one month a year, in the peak of Toronto’s muggy summers, when the air is as thick and smoggy as mushroom soup. Only then is my hair uniformly curly and full thanks to the humidity.
There seemed to be no lasting solution to my bad hair. None of Sephora’s pricey dry shampoos helped at all. My ponytails were puny so I tried buns, buying one of those fake hair donuts to plump it up—but my hair was too thin to cover it, the shiny silicone gleaming through the meagre strands of my up-do. I was excited when I saw that “Don’t Care Good Hair” was having a moment. As described by the Guardian’s fashion editor, the deliberately “undone” look was now a trend: “Flat at the top…and wavy through the middle section, but in a bendy, haphazard-looking shape…The ends are left natural…more lo-fi than blow-dry.” Haphazard, I thought, that’s my hair! Could my head finally be having a fashion moment?!? I tried it out, eschewing any styling for a wash-and-go “natural look.” Turns out thin, un-styled hair on a harried, tired mom wearing yesterday’s pablum-stained clothes is less Alexa Chung and more bedraggled, unkempt mess. I knew it, but I was at a loss. Hats became my only recourse.
It was this desperate, rumpled woman who walked into Melonhead one fateful Saturday. As I waited for my toddler’s haircut to be finished, the stylist turned to me with a kind smile. “You have very fine hair. I could give you a lot more body.” At first, I laughed, but then realized it was a real opportunity. I had nothing to lose, aesthetically. It was only $30. And the clincher: When else would I have a chance for a haircut?! I scuttled into one of the few adult chairs they keep on hand for parent cuts. (Yes, parent cuts are on their roster.)
The stylist, Georgia, had been working at Melonhead for a few months after returning from Greece, where she’d had her own all-ages salon. She was a perfect blend of straight talk (“Luckily, your daughter didn’t get your hair”) and encouragement (“You don’t even look like you’ve had children!”). She was quick and efficient. I assume these qualities arise from cajoling toddlers all day, and they worked their charm on me. Best of all, my daughter was happy to wait while I was groomed. Mesmerized by the orange-hued phantasmagoria that is Melonhead, she sat beside us in a spaceship, simultaneously steering with her feet, sucking on her complimentary lollipop, playing with a bucket of toys, watching Finding Dory on three big-screen TVs and hungrily scanning the wall of novelty toys for sale. I found myself relaxing into Georgia’s capable, fast-moving hands. Other parents shot bemused glances my way but, as is so often the case since I became a mom, I really had no effs left to give.
Twenty minutes later, I had a neat bob that looked full and was brilliantly cut to take advantage of— but not fall victim to—my natural wave. Slightly retro, it evoked an early 1960s “Modeling with Millie” look I’ve always been partial to. In the coming weeks I was delighted to discover that it took minutes to style straight, dried naturally with bouncy curls, and—unbelievably—gave me Second Day Hair. So the compliments began.
Six weeks later it occurred to me that I’d have to return to Melonhead for a trim, even though my daughter didn’t need a cut yet. Taking her with me as a subterfuge (I guess I do have a few effs left), we went in near closing when it was quiet. Georgia was suffering from a cold, a downside of dealing with snotty toddlers all winter, but she did an even better job the second time.
So yeah. I get my hair cut at Melonhead. And I proudly hold my lollipop aloft—a beacon to the tired and huddled mom masses, in search of better hair.
*Kristen Aspevig has absolutely no affiliation with Melonhead other than the fact that it has changed her life/hair (same thing) for the better.