Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Girl Points

When Jeanette went to Austria, she had to do lots of "scary" things on her own, without the benefit of a close friend or adviser nearby.  Whenever she had to force herself to do something beyond her comfort zone, she would award herself "Big Girl Points".  The number of points corresponded to the amount of nervousness caused by the venture.

Tuesday, I got 100 Big Girl Points Even in America, going to get your hair cut is often a nervous venture.  Besides not knowing whether or not the stylist will "get it right", there is just the discomfort of not really knowing how you want to look, or what style you want to try. All I knew was, my hair hadn't been cut for a couple of months, and it was really in need of trimming and shaping up.

 We often shop 4 blocks from our home at a big mall with Carrefour as the anchor store.  Carrefours are all over China, and they are similar to Target or Wal-mart, with dry goods, electronics, some clothing, and groceries.  It's close and convenient, and the prices are right.  When we walk through the mall on the way to Carrefour, we often passed this salon, "Yes I Do".  Peeking through the windows, one would think it was pretty much like most of the American salons you've been to.

I printed out a recent photo showing how I like to wear my hair.
June in Sedona  
Armed with my photo and my acting skills, I decided that even though I don't know any of the proper haircutting vocabulary in Mandarin, I could make myself understood.  How hard could it be?  Deep breath, hang on tight, 'don't get scared now'.......

I entered through the front door, where stylists who aren't busy usually make a line out front, waiting for clients to come inside.

Pretty attention-grabbing front door, don't you think?  Worked for me!  As I went in, the woman there at the door looked as frightened as I was as she tried to watch me pantomime "Shampoo (washing motions over head) Hair (hands pull hair) Cut (snipping motions with fingers) and ."  Before I could finish my performance, the young woman started talking to several different people in the salon, and they all looked at me and went to find someone else.  (Everyone in China starts to learn English about age 5, but most of them don't know enough to actually speak any.  They can often understand a few words spoken carefully and enunciated clearly.)  Soon, that magic person who could understand the foreigner was found and brought to my side.  Again, I told her my reason for coming and showed her my photograph.  She asked me to wait in a chair, and soon I was escorted to the special room for washing hair.'s not just a room for washing's more of a Treatment Room.  This photo only shows one client, but when I was in there, it was completely full.  Five or six of us lined up in a row, lying on our backs with our feet up on a footstool at the end.  Most of those who did the hair washing were men.  As I laid down on my "bed", I could see in the mirror that all the other boys were smiling at my washer.  "Lucky you!  You got the foreigner!!"

I tucked in my collar and he placed a waterproof liner over my back and shoulders, and I laid back.  Your head actually rests on the black platform, so you don't have that horrible neck pain that is so common in getting your hair washed in the US.  Then he began The Treatment.  The next half an hour was filled with massage, thumping, pulling, rubbing, shampooing with well-defined strokes on both sides of the head, rinsing, a second shampooing, more massaging, thumping, pulling, rubbing and rinsing.  Most of it was lovely, but occasionally, I was reminded of my older brothers and the way they used to "twap" me on the head when I annoyed them.  I'm not certain of the medical benefits (or hair benefits) to this routine, but I felt great when it was over, and thought the US could use some lessons.  At the end of the treatment, my head was carefully wrapped in a purple towel, tucked in ever-so-carefully around the edges so I wouldn't drip while I waited for my stylist.

I was escorted to the normal hair-styling chair in front of a mirror, and set my purse down on the tiny half-shelf that had been quickly wiped free of short black hairs.  A cute, young woman came over to my chair and began ever-so-carefully combing out my thick hair.  She was armed with a "holster" around her waist which held a couple of pairs of scissors, a round brush, and other things I couldn't see.  There was nothing else around her styling area but a blow dryer in an interesting corkscrew holder.  She softly tried to comb me out, but soon went off to get some sort of conditioner to help her comb through my thick hair, made worse by the too-long-a-time since my last hair cut.  She looked at my photograph and got to work.  Another woman brought me a small glass of water, complete with a straw and covered in plastic wrap (to keep out any loose hair--thank you very much)!  The stylist used 5" haircutting scissors with the skill of a Ginzu Knife Ad Man.  I've never seen anyone use scissors that long for cutting hair that quickly.  It looked like she was doing fine so I relaxed.  Then she got out the thinning shears.  And she thinned, and thinned, and thinned some more.  It was looking like a good shape, so I let her keep it up.  I think I lost another 2 pounds.

Then she used the blow dryer and a flat iron.  I usually use a round curling iron, but she was making nice curls with the flat iron.  (My daughters told me I could do that, but I hadn't tried it yet.)  After styling, she used the blow dryer again.  She heated the hair from underneath, then turned the blow dryer around so that it sucked my hair up against the intake side.  This lifted my hair up and gave it "lift".  Amazing!!  Anyway, I thought the final results turned out great!

Wish you could see her holster!  Look at the man's holster on the left.
I imagine that after I left, everyone fought over a lock of the foreigner's hair to save and show their future grandchild.  

Now I went to pay for my 'salon' day which lasted 1-1/2 hours.

60 Kwai

That equals $9.50.

And there is no tipping in China.


  1. Wow! Great job working up the nerve, though it seems like maybe how excellent it turned out in the end might take away from the total number of points earned? Just kidding! You look great:-)


  2. Cuteness! Shorter than I've seen on you before, but very chic! I was talking to the Jensens today from Butterfield Ward and they said their son-in-law is the Bishop/Branch President or whatever in Chenju. What a small world!

  3. Ugh, I paid 70 dollars for a horrid painful 5 minute shampooing and low lights I had to fight the stylist to give me. I haven't been to a salon since that 3 years ago. I'd say your bravery paid off big time!