In a woman's life, her hair is extremely important. A good hair day unleashes a world of possibilities. A bad hair day means 'let's stay at home - preferably wearing a hat'. Compliments about her hair make her glow and blush - she feels two inches taller when her hair looks great - and small changes in her hair make a world of difference to her mood.
To a man, or at least, the men I met when I was growing up ( meaning, till yesterday), their view on hair can be summarized as 'Mine is short and I like it that way. Your hair is long and I like it that way. I will get my hair cut every month. You don't ever cut yours, though. Okay?'
My hair is mid length and dark brown with an annoying wave. My hair experimentation started in college a few years back - I colored it 'Dark Copper' and it became a strange shade of Red, I was called 'Lal-baal' for a year. But that's after I pointed out the change to my male friends. My female friends had picked up the change immediately and squealed with delight; my male friends took a long hard look and said 'But it was always this color, no? Brown only.'
A year later, as my hair grew out, I got annoyed with the half brown-half red effect and decided to color it all Deep Black. Again, my female friends and associates all exclaimed how different and nice and elegant it was looking. My male friends took a long hard look and said 'But it was always this color, no? Black only.'
The next year, I thought, enough of coloring, let's just straighten out this messy wave and go for Rebonding (Straightening, for the men reading this) . I happened to be in China at the time and found a street parlor which did a fabulous job for pretty cheap - unfortunately because they weren't used to the strange behaviour of Indian hair, they had to keep their shop open for an extra two hours to do just my hair through repeated applications of their products. The result was great, I loved it; My female friends went 'Wow!'. My male friends said 'Huh? You paid Rs. 2 thousand? For what, yaar? Your hair looks the same. Straight only.'
The really annoying part came a year later. After I got tired of the super-straight look and decided it was time to go back to the original natural, wavy look that I had grown up with -I painstakingly grew it all out and then chopped off the straight bits. It took a while, but I was finally happy and felt like my old self again. My female friends appreciated it; and my male friends said 'Hey! What happened to your hair? It was NEVER like this! Why's it all curly and stuff?'
I later figured I needed some style quotient to go with the natural look. What better than highlighting this time? I argued with my stylist about red streaks but he insisted that those were were darker skin tones than mine and I could 'carry off' blonde highlights well. I grumbled and mumbled 'But who wants to, anyway', but he had mixed the colors and started already, with the casual disregard for the customer that is the hallmark of any successful stylist.
The effect was reasonably striking. My female colleagues said it was very trendy and cool. But my husband looked at me with a mixture of fear and awe - pretended to like them at first and then later blurted out that in a certain light, 'They look almost white' and make me look 'older'. He has been unsuccesfully trying to back-track on the statement ever since but the damage was done. It's only my prior experience with the boorish nature of men when it comes to hair that led me to take the remark good-naturedly (Well, we're at least still married, aren't we? Let's not push it).
However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my friends, Gaurav, had evolved into a metrosexual male. He spotted me across the road while waiting for me in a Taxi. He immediately picked up on the latest set of changes and said 'Hey, Lal! It's looking super cool, yaar! Where did you get it done?'. He liked the highlights, he liked the waviness, he liked the shorter cut. But it was later, when he was deeply engrossed in saying 'You know, I have finally found the perfect conditioner that doesn't make my hair feel all stripped off moisture after a shampoo', that I began to have my doubts.
This just wasn't right. A guy was supposed to look dumbly around and say 'Huh? Your hair looks the same. I don't know why you waste your money. I get my hair cut for Rs. 30'. And a part of me actually preferred it that way. At least, they were being their stupid, honest selves -clearly, the females had been lying all along, and I always knew that too. I began to look at Gaurav askance - he was the aberration - it's just that it was strangely disconcerting to hear him speak passionately about a conditioner and I just didn't like it. Let the men be men and let the women be women, I say.
Just to let you know, I usually dislike stereotypes, but I think they just make life more comfortable. Or perhaps, to end with another stereotype- maybe women are just never satisfied....
Or possibly, it's just me.