Boys Don’t Play With Wigs

Dan - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on September 27, 2010
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Every Saturday my Great Aunt who lived down the street from my parents’ house would stop by and pick me up and take me with her to get her hair done at the beauty salon. It was the early 1970’s, I was about 10 years old and women were still going to the salon to get their weekly hairdos. To keep me from getting bored, the stylist in the salon would have me do small tasks. I started to enjoy helping around the salon. Maybe I became addicted to the smell of Aqua Net hairspray that filled the salon, or saw how the women felt when their hair was freshly styled, but I knew then that this is what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Not long after several trips with my aunt to the salon I asked her if she could buy me some wigs and hair supplies so I could practice at home. She did so and that’s when the shampoo hit the fan.

My father is from the old school of thinking, where boys played sports, rough housed with others and probably smoked cigarettes. Many fights would break out between my parents over my newfound hobby. He would shout, “Boys don’t play with wigs,” or “I don’t want a sissy for a son.” I endured constant teasing and name calling from my father and my siblings. The abuse was rough but I still followed my dream of becoming a stylist.

I believe in making people look and feel better about themselves. A fresh look, a new style can give a new outlook to someone who is going through a bad time in their life. I do volunteer styling at a “Safe House” for battered women, and also through an agency, I help style wigs for cancer patients going through Chemotherapy. Many tears of happiness have come from a simple brushing of the hair or the snip of the scissors. Many times the patients will ask me what made me decide to want to do hair for a living? I tell them the story of when I was a little kid and my aunt bought me my first wig, they laugh and say, “and you’re still playing with wigs.” I laugh back with them and say yes, but don’t tell my father!