I’ve found myself in a styling chair on a stage, in front of an audience of fancy-pants, Los Angeles hairdressers. Describing what he’s planning to do to MY hair, the stylist, just uttered the words, “Hip mullet”. M-U-L-L-E-T! Business in front, party in the back MULLET!
Let’s back up for a moment. I’m a 20 something, struggling actor in LA and a friend calls saying that the studio across the street is putting on this huge hair styling class, being taught by someone of importance in the styling world. Their model didn’t show up and they need someone ASAP and they’ll cut my hair however I want! My immediate thought, “Woohoo, a free haircut!” I hop in the car.
I’m having my makeup done when the stylist introduces himself and thanks me for coming on such short notice. I show him a picture of the style I’d like, and he agrees that it would be a great look. He’s happy to do it!
Fast forward 30 minutes, I’m in the chair, on stage, having had the rug pulled out from under me. What should I do? In this situation, my job is to stay quiet and simply be a body with a head of hair. But the stakes are too high. I cannot afford to walk out of there with a “hip mullet.” So, I speak up.
“Excuse me?” I say in a tentative voice, “That’s now what we discussed. Can we go with the style that you said you’d do backstage?”
Silence and a look.
“This brings up a great topic.” he says as he turns back to the crowd, “What do you do, when your client asks for a style that you know will not look good on them?”
I am FACING the audience trying to control the look on my face.
He turns back to me, “What if we cut it into the style I suggested and if, after that, you still want it cut your way, we’ll do that?” I agree.
He gives me a mullet and it is terrifying.
“So! Do you still want me to cut it your way?” he dares me.
I muster all my strength, “Yup.” And with that I give my head to a person holding scissors, who I’ve clearly upset, in a room full of his peers.
He does a fantastic job and the stylists in the audience are invited up to look at the cut close up. A handful, out of earshot of him, whisper to me, “You did the right thing.”
Yes, this was a haircut, this was not life or death. But I did learn a few things.
1. Just because someone is an expert in a certain area, does not mean that they are better than you or know what is best for you.
2. Chances are, if you think something’s not right, others do too, they’re simply too afraid to speak up.
3. There will always be critics and there will also be people on your side. You’re the one who has to look at yourself in the mirror the next day. Go with what feels right for you.
4. There is no such thing as a “Hip Mullet.”
Ten years later, I’m a mom, wife and business owner. I face situations where the stakes are much higher, but these lessons have encouraged me to understand my worth and trust my gut through even the toughest of situations.