Jan 3 2013
Last autumn, nestled near my preschool daughter’s scalp and obscured by her thick hair, were lice. Our immediate desire was to rid her–and the household–of the pesky critters. Out came the clippers. Her hair was buzzed short enough to glimpse her scalp.
From birth, she’s been admired for her dark hair, which never fell away. Instead, it grew fast, first curly, and then it pitched itself right down her slight toddler back. More recently (when the formerly equally longhaired brother got lice, then a buzz cut) she sported a sassy bob. Post-buzz, she may have had less hair than at any time in her entire life. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the sudden buzz cut revealed how primary a role her hair played in people’s perception of her. What surprised me more was her own reaction to her self-perception. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 20 2012
We’d lived in the US for a little over a year when I came home from school one day with lice. At the time, my parents were horrified, associating the parasitic vermin with their victims being dirty. (Fact: Head lice actually prefer cleaner hair; makes it easier for them to attach. Infestation has nothing to do with the level of hygiene in your home.)
Back in the USSR, the standard method of dealing with such an infestation was to cut the infected hair as short as possible, then pick out the remaining nits and bugs by hand. (Kerosene was also frequently employed for good measure.) Unfortunately, at the time, I had thick, golden red hair that fell past my waist. When the suggestion was made to cut it off, my mother and grandmother commenced keening and wailing in a manner rarely heard outside of Middle Eastern funerals. Read the rest of this entry →