What is it like to work behind the chair for over half of my life doing hair? My answer…never, ever dull.
As a child I did not cut my Barbie doll’s hair because I only had one Barbie and I would have been in deep “do” for even thinking about it. I really wanted to be a neurosurgeon and actually began college in a pre-med curriculum. Instead I graduated from Texas A&M with a BA in Journalism and a minor in art, photography, psychology, English and floral design. Much to the annoyance of my college adviser I never could answer his burning question about what was I going to do with my life and how did all of the minor studies play into my life plan.
Fast forward in life a few decades and I can truthfully answer that college was my boot camp for the life I live now. It is rich and robust. It is about being in another person’s space and touching not only their hair and skin but their soul. That soul houses experiences, dreams and goals. It also houses the love of life and the fears that haunt. It is about meeting another human being in the middle and really getting to know them. Doing hair, makeup and skincare is powerful. It is as powerful as a surgeon’s scalpel.
When writing, I often find myself in a trance with my fingers flying across the keys capturing fleeting thoughts. It is here that I begin to unload the deepest thoughts and feelings that come from behind the chair. Through the lens of my Nikon I see the beauty in things and people not only from photographer’s point of view but an artist’s as well. From behind the lens I can capture the moment in time that is gone and will never be again. For me, the most personal is a boudoir photo shoot. It is here that we find the deep thoughts of self that a woman carries her entire life. The clothes, hair and makeup is simply setting the stage and giving her permission to be free, beautiful and whole. For some women, the pictures are the first validation in their entire life that they could even remotely be beautiful or sexy. Does that change a persons life? Yes. Profoundly.
Hair and makeup styles can chronicle a person’s life and all of the moments that they wanted a change to go with what was happening inside their head, heart and soul. For some, the hairstyle change is a triumph. A statement that one has finally broken free from an others grasp and control. It is a work in progress from the moment I meet someone and look back and remember when neither of us had wrinkles and grey hair or, the energy that circled us as we talked.
Working behind the chair has taught me that we all have vulnerability and for me to cross into that is an honor never taken lightly. In the chair as well as behind the chair is a place of exploration and healing, dreaming and doing, sharing profound moments and often secrets. Frequently, I find myself being the teacher one moment and the student the next. I have learned that we are in each others lives for sometimes a fleeting moment, a day, a month, a year or, even a lifetime. It is here that we also gather together as a family or tribe to experience the richness of life.