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Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

FROWNING GLORY

- Renelaine Bontol -

CEBU, Philippines - People in the U.S. are more obsessed about their hair than Filipinos are. Our hair regimen is restricted to blowing it dry through the use of an electric fan. Women in the U.S., however, have close personal relationships with their hairdressers, whom they probably see more often than their mothers-in-law. They blow-dry, color, highlight, or assault their hair with curling irons, flat irons, plus apply tubs of hair products to it.

I work as a Physical Therapist in a nursing home, where the hairdresser comes one day a week. This day is sacred to the patients. They get up at the crack of dawn, barely eat breakfast, and dash to the beauty parlor in their wheelchairs. The beauty parlor operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the residents fight for spots. It’s a very cutthroat enterprise. 

The hairdresser is an old woman herself who is on the verge of requiring a bed in the nursing home. She does hair in a style similar to Imelda Marcos’. Everybody emerges with puffed-up, permed, teased hair that is not appreciated by younger women.

One day we had a patient who left the beauty parlor in delight. She immediately walked to the Therapy room to show off her new ‘do. We complimented her but really thought her hair looked odd. My boss, who also happens to be Pinoy, observed, “She looks like Beavis!” (from MTV’s Beavis and Butthead).

We had a resident who was always first in line at the beauty parlor. Every week, she waited right in front of the locked door for the hairdresser. We theorized that she spent the previous night camped out in front of the beauty parlor. Then one day she wasn’t there. We found out she was dead.

African-American women love to wear braids, in which case they do not wash their hair for months. They treat their hair with oil. How itchy that must feel! We Filipinos will probably self-destruct if we could not wash our hair every day.

In the Philippines, the only people who wear fake hair are contestants of Ms. Gay beauty pageants. In America, people are obsessed with fake hair. I was unaware of this until I noticed one of my co-workers whose hair changed every week. One week it would be short, then the next it would be long. I also saw her with red hair. It finally dawned on me that she owned several wigs. Her real hair reminds me of Ursula, the Sea-Witch from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. 

They also like pre-styled fake hair, which they can simply clip on to their heads. It’s so commonplace that they’re sold at the malls. It’s easy to buy a fake ponytail or a bun. Aside from clip-ons they also wear weaves, extensions and dreadlocks.

Not to be excluded, an appreciable amount of men in America wear fake hair, too—mostly because they’re bald. I know a man who wears a horrible toupee. It is ill-fitting, with little white hair sticking out from underneath the toupee. I am not opposed to wearing fake hair. But not those that look as if a dead animal is perched on your head.

Hair transplant might be an avenue to consider. But the concept gives me the creeps. Basically they “harvest” a strip of skin with the hair follicles from one part of your head, and plant it on your bald area. It does not seem like a very pleasant experience.

Hair is indeed our crowning glory, but it can also cause a frown instead of glory.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN

BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD

HAIR

IMELDA MARCOS

IN AMERICA

IN THE PHILIPPINES

LITTLE MERMAID

MS. GAY

PHYSICAL THERAPIST

WE FILIPINOS

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