Changer de tête

Samson and the lionI’ve been having a bad hair day for what feels like forever. Like the unmistakable first symptoms of a cold, I’ve felt a change coming on. It’s always the same. You keep looking in the mirror, checking your profile, from the back, from the front. Ack. Something’s just not working. Even when I crinkle my eyes and squint.

Time for a ‘change of head’ as we say in French, which for me means a trip to the hairstylist. Here in France you must ‘prendre rendezvous’ (book an appointment) before heading chez le coiffeur. And although it’s only been a month since the last time I sat in that chair, I go back and sing my song of woe.

“Ils sont affreux!” I say, remembering to use the plural as I describe the horror story of my hair. Too long here, too short there. My head looks like a crème caramel. My roots are too dark, my ends too wispy. Essentially I dislike the shape of my head. Can you make it less…round?

He knows I’m joking, bien sûr. Although I only began seeing Nicolas last summer (I am a faithful sort), he’s already had me in his chair (did I write that?) for many hours. He senses, I am sure, that this winter of my discontent is about more than my roots.

We women may not suffer the indignity of losing our hair, but let’s be clear: we suffer. Monthly, and I don’t mean in that way, although that’s not nothing either. I am talking about a certain dependence on hairstylists in order to look/feel/be great. Even good. Even not like a monster.

Not all women feel this way. Some brave lasses don’t bother with their locks at all. Some chop it all off, bundle it back or let it grow wild and grey. I admire you all. You are beautiful. But let’s be clear: I am a top-down kinda girl. If the hair works, everything else falls into place. No makeup needed and I can throw on any old clothes without feeling like a freak.

Once upon a time I was little blonde angel. It didn’t last long. That is, I was a natural blonde until my teens but the angel part went by the wayside early on. I think this picture of me in first communion gear was the last time I played the part. In the mid-seventies, I did the Farrah Fawcett flip (any under-30s reading this blog will have to Google that). Then came the perm years. I started chopping into those curls somewhere in my twenties until I decided to go short and chic.

Evolution of the coiffure

So I’ve stayed, on and off, ever since. Always short, sometimes chic. But now I’m thinking: what if I grow it out, just a bit? A bit blonder to get me through the dark winter months. Maybe, just maybe, this time I’ll be able to wait it out.

So off I went a few days ago. Played hooky from work (had my laptop with me just in case and besides, I’m on intimate terms with the boss). Showed them a few photos of my last round as a blonde bombshell. The salon I go to now is bigger and has a dedicated colouriste. This makes a huge difference. She was able transform my horrible head in the space of two hours.

Then it was back in the chair with Nicolas. He spent another half hour or so trimming and styling but not cutting. It was worth it. When you’re trying to grow your hair out, a few millimeters of reshaping can make a big difference.

Later that afternoon I emerged from the salon, a new woman. Somewhat the poorer but feeling that it was worth every centime. Like Samson with his hair, I am ready to face down the lion. In fact, I’ve barely even looked in the mirror since.

Care to share any war stories about your locks, lack thereof, or latest look?


  1. robynchristi · January 14, 2016

    I always have the feeling that my hair is working against! Currently in the midst of growing out a full fringe- that was way too much upkeep! Haha

    • MELewis · January 14, 2016

      I know the feeling! Sometimes our hair gets us into sticky situations when it comes to maintaining the look. Fringes – or bangs as we North Americans call them – are all the rage at the moment but they are not for everybody. You have lovely long locks though, so lots of options!

  2. coteetcampagne · January 14, 2016

    Oh the fringe
    I had true liberation last year when I grew mine out. Then I noticed that the crevasse between my eyebrows had deepened. So back it had to come (the fringe)
    You look great with a shorter look, but unfortunately I would require a face transplant to get away with that so I’ll stick with hiding as much of my falling face and turkey neck as possible….

    • MELewis · January 14, 2016

      Oh dear…face transplant? Surely not! That crevasse is more like the Grand Canyon on me, but I figure it will be less scary if I get used to seeing it every day. 😉

  3. Osyth · January 14, 2016

    I think I have told you before that the reason for my long locks is a pathalogical fear of the hairdresser. I used to model for one in London. A very smart one. When God was a boy and dinosaurs strolled in the streets. But since then, except for a wondrous Italian who made all his ladies of a certain age feel like the young Sofia but who rudely returned to Florence, I have had nothing but hairy heartache. It’s a dichotomy between what I see and what they do, I think. So long it is. But that is not without trauma. Recently I have lost about 45% of it … it’s anxiety related apparently and I it’s now pretty well stopped that anxiety replaced with the awful truth that it will take years for the regrowth to get to the length of the rest and I fear I may be sporting a mullet by summer. What do we say about a head-shave. For charity you understand, not vanity 😉

    • MELewis · January 14, 2016

      You did leave a comment to that effect before but I did not realize how deep was the trauma. So sorry to have open a can of curls, so to speak, with my hair-raising post. My parents always used to say: “Eat your meat, it will put hair on your chest!” Thankfully it did not but maybe you should beef up your diet to spark the regrowth? Probably a good cut would do it good but you don’t want to know, right? I wish you healthy tresses and less anxiety – although living in France, no promises there! 😛

      • Osyth · January 14, 2016

        No no no! You haven’t opened a can of wormy curls at all. The fact that I have mentioned it means it’s really under control now. I’ve seen a Doctor who confirmed it’s nothing nastier than being anxious and that is in my own control. And my diet needed it’s yearly overhaul and you are, of course right – I need to allow some scissors. I will, I will , I will!

  4. Susanne · January 14, 2016

    You hit a chord over here. My curly locks are always unruly from the moment they grow beyond an inch. I did an afro in the 70’s but now if I do that I look like an old lady with a short perm. Bad. Very bad. I am going to my hair dresser this weekend with a request to take me back to the boy-short hair of my twenties. No more hair products for de-frizzing, smoothing, taming. Short and sassy like your short blond locks!

    • MELewis · January 15, 2016

      Short and sassy, that’s the ticket! I always envy you lucky ducks with curls but I get your point about how what worked in the past can be a disaster today. Fear of looking like an old lady (shall I coin that? FOLLOL?) is probably what’s driving me to go blonder while I still can!

  5. poshbirdy · January 14, 2016

    You look great. Unfortunately my last hair (disastrous) change nearly caused a divorce – still talked about!

    • MELewis · January 15, 2016

      Oh dear…if you’re still talking about it, that’s probably a good thing then? 😉 I know that hair is dear to our hearts but definitely not grounds for divorce. Although I nag husband relentlessly when his haircut gets past its sell-by date!

  6. Colin Bisset · January 14, 2016

    Men (some men) go through exactly the same angst. A perfect cut is like manna from heaven but hard to replicate. A sort of Haley’s Comet thing, coming round every once in a while. But it’s always noticeable in France how well coiffed you lot are, and you are no exception.

    • MELewis · January 15, 2016

      Merci Monsieur! It had not occurred to me that men experienced the angst. My husband’s only criteria for a hairstylist is one who doesn’t talk, whereas I require someone not only cuts and styles to my taste but is a good listener! You are right: the French generally do appear well-coiffed, and the fact that there is a salon on every corner is surely not for nothing.

  7. Pat · January 15, 2016

    I always liked your hair Mel. It was cute when we went to Rye-High together and it’s very sophisticated now. But I understand your angst. I like my haircut now but not the snowy grey! Looking forward to being able to colour it in February when I reach the 5-yr mark following my illness. Now, just trying to figure out what colour…

    • MELewis · January 15, 2016

      Pat, I love your latest cut and just assumed going grey was a choice! Did not realize there was a medical rationale for that. In fact, my natural colour is now just sort of dull and sometimes I envy my friends who are naturally silver. But I can understand you might not be ready to go there yet, so vive la couleur! How about auburn? I have a neighbour with a cut a bit like yours who tried it and she looked great!

  8. davidprosser · January 15, 2016

    Oh the joy of being able to say “A number 3 cut please” and then just sit there for 5 minutes while it’s done. Tres bien.
    xxx Massive Hugs Mel xxx

    • MELewis · January 15, 2016

      Aw, but then what would Mike do for a living? 😉 You always look very well groomed in your photos, David, so he must be doing a good job! Hugs to you mon ami! xo

  9. Maison Bentley Style · January 15, 2016

    I too have just returned from the chair..I think I go for more of a good gossip and the head massage than a true transformation! xxx

    • MELewis · January 16, 2016

      Clearly there is something magic that goes on in that chair… 😉 Beautification must be good for the soul!

  10. wanderingcows · January 17, 2016

    When I was young, I too wanted the Farah Fawcett flick. The hairdresser my mother took me to always says yes, but it never looked anything like it. Your hair looks great short & chic!

    • MELewis · January 17, 2016

      Merci! I could never quite get the FF flip right either nor feel anything but inadequate when I looked in the mirror back then. Either the wisdom of advanced age or failing eyesight makes me happier about myself overall – even if the bad hair days are still a recurring theme!

  11. zipfslaw1 · January 17, 2016

    I spent ages trying to get the lady who cuts my hair in France to cut it totally bald, but she never seemed to understand me. As I sat in the chair one day while we chatted about “tout et rien,” I realized that she understands me just fine–she just doesn’t think that I should wear my (mostly nonexistent) hair that short.

    • MELewis · January 18, 2016

      I suppose that French hairstylists, who can be quite opinionated, also hesitate to make sure the language barrier doesn’t result in any miscommunications over essential matters like how far to go style-wise. I’ve often struggled to get them to cut my hair even quite short, so I can only imagine the difficulty in convincing them to actually shave your head! Although the has come into vogue recently in France (for men, at least, of which you are presumably one?) so maybe now it’s the ‘fashion’ you would have more success.

  12. acflory · January 18, 2016

    -grin- What can I say? I’m going grey ungracefully, but I do empathize as I’m a top down girl as well [just not as top down as I used to be]. Good luck growing it out!

    • MELewis · January 18, 2016

      Thanks! Doubt very much I’ll make it past a few extra centimeters but it’ll probably feel incredibly long to me for all of 5 minutes before I chop it off again! As for going grey, we all have our priorities and sometimes hair colour just ain’t one of them. 😉

      • acflory · January 19, 2016

        I’d like to get rid of the grey but I’m so lazy I know I’d never maintain it properly and end up with a horrible salt and pepper hairline. At least with the grey I don’t look unkempt. :/

  13. Jacqui Murray · January 18, 2016

    I haven’t changed my hair in years. I’ve tried and always failed. I love yours. It seems every time I try short, I can’t wait to grow it out. Sigh.

    • MELewis · January 18, 2016

      Well….at least you tried! I am often inspired to change but rarely make it past the grow-out phase. Patience is not my virtue.

  14. jackiemallon · January 20, 2016

    Funny that, because I”m going to the hairdressers on Friday and it’s do or die. If they don’t make a job of it this time, I will be looking for a new hairdresser. I spend most of my time with my hair in a pony tail. Not a good result for hundreds and hundreds of dollars on cuts! I’ll let you know… :-/

    • MELewis · January 20, 2016

      Hairdressers are tricky relationships. You want them to understand what you want, yet you also don’t want them to blindly execute a crazy idea without providing some sort of counsel. I’m a little envious about the pony tail – mine’s not been long enough to wear one for years. Bonne chance with the new do. xo

  15. Mél@nie · January 20, 2016

    I did laugh at:”Farrah Fawcett flip…” – Holy Molly! 🙂
    * * *
    otherwise, you really look great and smart with short hair and glasses… 🙂

    • MELewis · January 20, 2016

      Really takes you back, doesn’t it? Ha, ha…she was certainly the icon of the 70s!

  16. Liz Graham-Yooll · January 21, 2016

    Gosh! Quite a conversation on hair 🙂 It’s something we all worry about; the hairdresser who nods when you say you’d like just the ends cut and you come out looking like a boy with short back and sides. France, I’m finding, is very good on the cut and hairdressing is obviously a popular business here because our small town sports four haidressers all of whom are fully booked.

    • MELewis · January 21, 2016

      Yes, it always amazes me how many ‘salons de coiffure’ survive in even the most remote French villages. The basic standard is proficient, and the price certainly competitive, but I personally feel the Brits cut better!

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