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Last week, I posed this question on Facebook and Twitter: Is it a compliment or an insult when someone says you have “pageant hair”?

The responses varied from “Who cares, I like your hair,” to something along the lines of “Um, 1986 called and it wants its hairstyle back.”

The surprising amount of conversation invoked by my question caused me to ponder my hairstyle, as if there aren’t more important things I could be doing with my time. For those of you who don’t know what is meant by “pageant hair,” it’s the big, meticulously-styled bouffant that takes time and a variety of tools to create. If you really wanted to do it right, you could go the distance to “helmet hair,” which is the look one gets after applying layers of Aqua Net hairspray so your hairstyle can be preserved for posterity, like a butterfly in a glass paperweight. I am sure I don’t have helmet hair…at least, not anymore. Don’t blame me, blame 1986! By the way, it works best if you let the Aqua Net dry between applications.

Fine. I insist on poufing my hair, but I really don’t have any choice. I don’t have the kind of effortless mane that some bitches – I mean, friends of mine – have. I am referring to the type of hair that can be washed and air-dried, so its proud possessor can simply shower and waltz out the door looking great. If I wash my hair and then do nothing to it – no blow-drying, no teasing, no curling, nothing – within twenty minutes I look like a drowned rat. I have the type of hair that needs round brushes, hot rollers, and various other instruments of torture to prevent it from sitting flat on my head. That is in large part the reason I toil, blow-drying my hair upside down even when it’s 80 degrees outside and doing so makes me a sweaty mess.

But the fact that my hair doesn’t air-dry well is not the entire story. In fact, it’s not even the main reason why I want my hair to be big. Much like my reason for wearing black clothes (not because I am cool or fashionable, but because I tend to spill food on myself frequently), my reason for having big hair might surprise you. It is the same reason I don’t wear ponytails, the reason I leave my hair long and loose and full.

My head is too small for my body.

There. I said it. My head is too small for my body.  And the only way to deal with it is to make my hair bigger and hope that its sheer volume will make me look in proportion overall.

Right now you are thinking one of two things: either “This woman is completely vain and neurotic,” or, “Don’t be silly, honey, your head is the perfect size” (Thanks Mom!). Either way, my response is the same:  I have third-party verification that, yes, my head is oddly small for my body. This confirmation came in the form of Thomas, a hair stylist at the Macy’s Salon in Menlo Park Mall in New Jersey, with whom I had the following conversation in 1998:

Thomas:  So, how do you like to wear your hair? (AUTHOR’S NOTE FOR THE MEN: This is a routine opening question whenever you go to see a new stylist.)

Me:  Well, I usually blow it out and put Velcro rollers in to make it fuller.

Thomas:  Really? But right now the straight and sleek look is so IN. And your hair texture is perfect for that.

Me:  Ummm….I don’t really like to wear it too flat. I like it on the bigger side.

Thomas:  But maybe we should try it…

Me:  No! My head is too small for that.

Thomas (incredulous):  What?! What does that mean?

Me:  Look at my head in relation to my body. It’s too small.

At this point, Thomas actually stops what he is doing, which was touching and fluffing my hair. He stares at me intently with one hand on his chin and one folded across his chest. To his credit, he makes the effort of surveying my head from a couple of different angles by circling me as I sit in his chair. After two or three minutes of this, he announces his findings.

Thomas:  OK, I see what’s going on here. From here to here (he points from my right ear across my face to my left ear) your head and face are actually somewhat narrow. But, from here to here (he points from the tip of my forehead to the back of my crown) your head is actually quite long.

There is a pause in the conversation while I process his remarks.

Me:   So…I think what you are telling me is that I look like the creature from the movie Alien?

Thomas:  Is that the one with Sigourney Weaver? I love her!

So there it is. My head is too small relative to my body. At least, it is when you look at me from the front.

There is one other possible response you could have to my issue with my small head. I am sure that at least one of you is thinking, “Well, maybe it isn’t that your head is too small. Maybe it’s that your body is too big. Maybe if you worked out a little more, or went on a diet, or did something to make your body smaller, everything would balance out.”

You know what I say to that? Suck it. If making my hair bigger means I get to eat ice cream or cheese fries when I feel like it, then give me some hot rollers and Aqua Net and call me Peg Bundy.

Bragging rights go to the first person who guesses the relevance of this entry’s title. This contest is brought to you by Mike Ingrassia.

About Me

The purpose of this blog is purely self-expression - being creative for the sake of being creative. It has evolved into a collection of non-fiction essays.

All of the anecdotes and incidents you read in this blog are completely true and not exaggerated, no matter how sad, pathetic or unbelievable they may seem.

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