OPINION COLUMNS

Beauty school dropouts; Mannequin mauled by clippers

By David Talley | Published Saturday, April 15, 2017
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Hack Job

HACK JOB – David buzzes a mannequin head in class at Weatherford College Wise County’s cosmetology school Wednesday. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

This week Racey and I went back to class for a brief lesson at Weatherford College Wise County’s cosmetology school. The experience firmly answered three questions I never realized I had:

  • Do I have a future in cosmetology? No.
  • But did I at least master using clippers to give a basic buzz cut to a mannequin? Also no.
  • Are mannequins creepier up close? Yes.

We started with a tour of the facility, which is set up like a real salon with stations for students who take real clients during the week. The students offer lower-cost haircuts and free styling for local prom-goers, which is probably a good way to pick up a little cash and get extra experience.

GAME FACE – Human and yak hair isn’t pleasant to touch. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

We then sat in for a brief lesson on clippers. Our instructor, Gail Henard, juggled teaching techniques to her own students and fielding the occasional question from Racey and I. This was my introduction to the cosmetology mannequins used at the school, which are given names based on their attributes and have a combo head of hair made up of yak and human hair. Our mannequin was Debra.

Gail styled Debra an undercut before buzzing it shorter and giving her a hard part on the right side. While the other students picked this up pretty quickly, it took me a while to get the arm motion down once I got a pair of clippers in my hand.

Standing behind my first mannequin head and staring at a part in the hairline, things got real. While Racey said later she found trimming hair sort of relaxing, knowing she couldn’t mess up a mannequin, the empty, unblinking eyes and cold scalp made me tense. While I might feel better working on a breathing person, that’s definitely not going to happen.

Even the basic buzz cut takes more technique than I had. Clipping the mannequin’s hair back around her crown so I could buzz the hair underneath felt like trying to hold back a waterfall, and I kept unintentionally resting my hand around its neck, which is probably frowned upon as a cosmetologist.

Working the clippers in too deep means pulling hair and hurting your client, which I also did a lot. Debra’s ears, nose and eyes all got bumped during the ordeal, which probably would have cost me my tip.

There’s certainly a level of creativity associated with being a hair stylist. Skills like knowing what will and won’t look good on a particular client are valuable attributes, but I never got to that point because I was too busy just trying to cut evenly across the top of Debra’s head.

I finished with a number of long hairs draping from her bangs and the sides of her head, which I ultimately decided weren’t worth trying to clean up. The best part of this experience was by far the commentary from other students and Gail, who regaled us with experiences with past clients and other on-the-job stories.

David Talley is a Messenger reporter.

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