Have you noticed all the fun names for hair salons: Shear Talent, The Mane Event, Hairpeace, The Tease, Tangles, Head Hunter, Cuttin’ Up, Hair Force, Off the Top, Sophisticuts, – and my personal favorite – Curl Up & Dye!

Hairdressers are a breed all their own. They even have their own lingo (layers, razoring, bob, leave-in, shag, highlights, weave, nape, etc.). In Steel Magnolias’ the salon was Truvy’s Beauty Spot and it was an awesome portrayal of the atmosphere in a small town salon.

In the 60’s a hairdresser went through rigorous training to get their license. They had to know the anatomy of the nerves and blood vessels in the scalp, how chemicals react with hair and skin, and even some counseling techniques. Back then they wore uniforms and uniform shoes – no short dresses or high heels. These women were on their feet eight hours or more a day. They went home and picked hair out of their pantyhose and sometimes out of their feet (hair can work its way into the skin). Varicose veins and carpal tunnel syndrome often plagued these women after twenty years of making others beautiful.

Keeping their continuing ed up by going to annual conventions and learning the latest styles, colors, cutting techniques, perms, etc. was always an exciting event. Hearing the entire town’s gossip, whether from their own client, or the ones in the chair next to theirs, made the day go fast. Being asked to work a miracle was a regular experience: how can I get rid of the bald spot, how come you can’t cover every white hair, I want a natural looking perm – to name a few.

Now I’m not a hairdresser – but my mother was. I was too young to remember her time in cosmetology school but over the years she would explain how hard it was back then. I remember the nights she came home and rubbed and soaked her feet. Her tips used to be in quarters when I was little. She would drop them in her uniform pockets and empty them for me to count when she came home. I just wanted hair that looked like everyone else’s when I was in school, but I often had the latest whether it was the latest someone my age wore or not.

She loved to have a good time, she loved going out with the other stylists, and she loved the conventions. She opened her own shop after I was grown; she called it Hair-Em, a play on words that went over well in the small town she lived in. Long after she retired her favorite smell was a salon. Sometimes she wouldn’t do her own hair just to go enjoy the salon experience – and then come back home and fix everything they did wrong.

Once when my children were young, we were at the airport waiting for my mom to get off the plane. My seven-year old piped up and said “Mom, what color will grandma’s hair be this time?” I cracked up, but it was so true. You never know if you’ll recognize your hairdresser the next time you see her!

So to my mom and all the hairdressers out there I say “Thank You”, thanks for trying your best to make us look presentable, thanks for listening to all our troubles, thanks for standing behind us (literally) without complaining. Remember: old hairdressers never pass away, they just ‘Curl Up & Dye’ : )



  1. My sister-in-law does my hair so we have an uninterrupted visit for an hour or two.


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