Yesterday I took advantage of G having kidnapped M for the day and ran to the hairdressers. The cut’s perfect, just what I wanted, but the whole time I was sitting there, as one lady snipped and another buffed my nails – well, what’s a haircut without a manicure! – I couldn’t help longing for my pre-hijab days just a tad.
You see, for a woman (yes, I generalise) going to the hairdresser is not just a chore, not just something to tick off the to-do list; it’s time-out, it’s ‘me’ time, it’s relaxing, even fun. You sit alongside other women with the same purpose as you, all there for a change, all there to be pampered just for a while, to look in the mirror and remember that they’re not just a Mum, not just a librarian, not just a cook but a person with a name. A haircut’s a chance to express that name, let out the person in the length of the layers, choppiness of the cut, colour of the tint. You hear laughter, whispered secrets, advice, gosspi plays back and forth between customers and the staff. It’s a haircut, ticked off to-do lists, but it’s time out, it’s you time.
Since hijab, going to the hairdresser’s lost it’s shine. The overwhelming majority of male hairdressers in Turkey means to have my hair cut, I must go in the back room, the room normally reserved for waxes and such. Sure they have a big mirror, the haircut’s just the same, yet when into the room floats the laughter and companionable small talk of other women in the salon the atmosphere for you is lost.
Istanbul has, of course, salons just for women but all miles away from us and even then these salons are hidden away behind curtains or up five flights of stairs. I hope some intrepid entrepeneur comes along sometime soon and makes a salon for hijabis, where we all can be women, not hidden away; let us manicure headscarved in front windows, chat companiably in the back. I wish someone would remember (perhaps realise?) that behind all our veils, we are women still – we’re allowed to feel pretty, allowed to be feminine in ourselves. I wish I could show hijabi women what it’s like to be unveiled, to experience the hairdressers once as it should be – where the scissors are unheard in a room full of sounds.
Still, I pay half the price now, so there is that of course!
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