OPINION COLUMNS

Cutting hair is hard, y’all

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, April 15, 2017
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I can now say that I’ve trimmed yak hair.

Well, a blend of yak and human hair. I’m not sure what percent of what, but it felt kind of gross either way. And that’s the sort of thing cosmetology students deal with on a daily basis.

PINNED UP – Racey pins her mannequin’s hair before buzzing it. Messenger photo by David Talley

Cosmetology school is apparently way more extensive than I imagined, as I learned this week when David and I sat in on a class at Weatherford College Wise County. Did you know it takes 1,500 hours to get a license? I did not. As our instructor Gail, who was full of quotables, explained, by the end of those 1,500 hours, things can be a little tense at the salon.

“Third semester is like black is the new orange,” Gail said.

I can imagine. One hour of watching David butcher his buzz cut, and I was feeling like throwing down (I’m kidding of course. David did suck at cutting hair, but so did I).

It’s harder than it looks. Like, I knew going into this that cutting and dying hair must be difficult. I go to a professional stylist, and every time it takes her like two hours to do my hair, so clearly it’s a time-consuming, artistic profession. But we were only going to clip the hair on our mannequins – give it an all-over buzz. How hard could that be?

Well, not hard to do, per se. But hard to do right.

I made David go first so Gail and I could laugh at his aversion to touching the person/yak hair and his tendency to freak out about making the wrong cuts. When it was my turn, I decided to just kind of go at my mannequin, Debra. I clipped Debra’s hair with abandon, trimming it down without care. It was actually kind of relaxing to know there was no pressure. If I screwed this up, which was inevitable, let’s be real, Debra wasn’t going to scream at me. That already made it better than working at the Messenger office.

And Debra did not look good at the end, let me tell you. Gail’s test mannequin ended up with a stylish, sort of longer-on-top, cut, but David and I just trimmed all the hair off. In offering her criticism, Gail was pretty nice. She told us we just need to trim some of the longer hairs to make it even, though I have a feeling if we were actually in cosmetology school that critique would be way more in-depth.

After we’d butchered the helpless mannequin, we got to look at some of the work the real students have done. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty impressive. They learn a lot of stuff in that 1,500 hours, and if you want a lower cost haircut, they’re open to customers Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

What is the main thing I took out of this lesson? It wasn’t how to operate clippers. No, it was sage wisdom, straight from Gail herself – always tell your stylist the truth about if you’ve got bleach in your hair, otherwise it might burn when combined with other chemicals.

As Gail said, “Don’t cry to me if your hair’s crispy. That’s what happens to liars.”

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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