Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair" 

A number of years ago, I discovered that if I put on all my jewelry when I went shopping at a high-end store, the salespeople were more attentive. So I made it a habit to dress up if I needed to shop at a pricey department store or chic boutique. I'd do up my face, slip on my giant pearl ring and gold-plated watch, and enjoy being treated as a customer who belonged in that store.

But in the last year and a half or so, I've noticed a change. I can walk into a shop clutching my Coach purse, draped in designer duds, and the salespeople barely acknowledge my presence. Another woman walks in, similarly attired, and the saleslady rushes over, all smiles. What's the difference? The length of my hair.

I thought that disdain for "long-hairs" went out with disco, but apparently some vestige of prejudice remains. Ever since I let my hair grow past my shoulders, I've become invisible. I decided to grow my hair long because I thought it would look better. I still think it does; My head is kind of large and square and the long hair softens it a bit. Plus, it's just easier to take care of. I can just wave a blow dryer at it or let it air dry or put it up instead of spending half an hour with a diffuser and a round brush trying to coax it into a vaguely neat shape. Besides, TV and fashion magazines suggest that long hair is all the rage. I'm fashion-forward! The very picture of style! Right?

Apparently not. In my unscientific shopping study, I have determined what attributes the salespeople seem to be looking for. If you have short hair, give yourself one point. If your hair is blonde, give yourself another point. Then, add an additional point for each decade of age over 30. So, for example, a fifty-year-old woman with short, blonde hair (4 points) would trump a twenty-five-year-old with short, brown hair (1 point) - all other things being equal, of course.

I've thought about buying a short blonde wig and going shopping to test my theory but haven't built up the courage to try it just yet. The wig would have to be really good, and not obviously a wig because I suspect that something as outside the norm as wearing a wig is probably even worse than having long hair in the salespeople's eyes. So for now I've resigned myself to the fact that my lovely long locks will keep me from getting good service. It's a small price to pay for feeling beautiful.



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