According to my cursory research on the Internet, DIY haircuts among four-year olds are a classic rite of passage that’s been around for generations. Fortunately, my nine-year old granddaughter only whacked her American Girl Doll’s hair and not her younger sister’s!
Every friend I told about my granddaughter’s foray into “hairstyling,” laughed, and then immediately shared her own story. My friend Marilyn told me she has a whole box of Madame Alexander dolls with pixie haircuts that she trimmed when she was in elementary school. Another friend told me that when she was five, she cut her three-year old sister’s hair and made her promise not to tell anyone. My own stylist told me both of his daughter’s cut their own hair.
What is it about this form of self-actualization that makes it so appealing to little girls? The mechanics of scissors can make a child feel very powerful, says Betsy Brown Braun, author of You’re Not the Boss of Me: “Once they coordinate the paper and the scissors, then it’s like Edward Scissorhands! ‘Look what I can do! Look what I can do!’”
I guess that sense of power manifested much later for my granddaughter, who turned nine last week. But the urge to get her hands on someone else’s hair has not subsided. When she wanted to trim my bangs, I said no but agreed to let her style my hair. She wove in two braids and elaborately clipped my bangs with four different colored butterfly barrettes. She made me promise I would wear the braids for the next few days and tell everyone I got my hair done at “Elizabeth and Chloe’s Styling Salon.” I kept my promise and actually got some compliments.
For her birthday last week I gave her a present that tapped into her new talent and brought her some hair she could cut without consequences. At the Goodwill store I found three hair-piece extensions that were about 8-inches long. Then, at a beauty supply store I found a Styrofoam mannequin, a pair of styling scissors, a large volumizing comb, and a package of colorful hair clips. I wrapped everything in a gift bag and threw in my old brush for good measure.
When we gave her the present, she was completely surprised and could hardly wait to start cutting. She and grandpa drew a face on the mannequin and named her Sophie. I suggested she cut the hair a little bit at a time the way stylists do. But she immediately lopped three inches off one of the wigs to make bangs.
I’m hoping the wigs will last more than a month, but at this rate I’m not so sure. I told my stylist I’ve got an innovative new stylist for that vacant chair in his salon!
Note: I took the picture of Sophie before she had eyelids. She seems to have an expression that says, “You did WHAT to my hair?”