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Smartmom isn’t blue about OSFO’s hair

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Smartmom was all for it. Sort of. It’s, um, one of the Oh So Feisty One’s creative outlets. Her hair. She loves to, well, play around.

First she did pink streaks. Then she did blue for her PS 321 graduation and color-coordinated her entire outfit.

But now she wanted turquoise. And she wanted to go to Medusa Hair Salon with a new middle-school friend. Cool. What better (and more expensive) way to bond with a new friend than at a hair salon.

Sure, Smartmom loves OSFO’s natural hair color — a sun-tinted blend of many shades of brown, red and black.

But color is in. And Smartmom does admire the way Hilary, the blue haired lady at Shawn’s liquor store (who also fosters cats) looks with her wild blue locks.

Oh, and OSFO wanted to cut her hair, too.

Sure, Smartmom loved OSFO’s long, flowing hair that reached below the small of her back. It made her look like an elegant hippie child.

But OSFO has been talking about a hair cut for a while. And she wanted to give her hair to Locks for Love until she found out that they don’t take tinted hair.

So last Friday was the day. OSFO texted Smartmom to make an appointment at the Seventh Avenue salon after-school. At 3:40, the girls phoned Smartmom from Seventh Avenue.

“Where are you?” OSFO said.

“You should be at Medusa!” Smartmom shrieked.

“We’re standing outside. What do we say?”

Sometimes Smartmom forgets that OSFO is only 11-years-old and a tad shy. In other ways, she’s a junior sophisticate. Smartmom told her to give their names to the receptionist. Duh.

“I’ll be right over,” Smartmom said.

By the time Smartmom got to the salon, the bleach had already been applied. OSFO was wearing a plastic cap with white foam covering a patch of her scalp.

“It kinda stings,” OSFO grimaced.

“I know,” said the stylist sweetly. “We’ll rinse it out soon.”

The stylists over at Medusa are a wonderful bunch. And they’re still talking about Updos for Obama, a Sarah Palin look-alike contest in late October that raised $2,000 for the future president.

Pictures of the event went viral with coverage in media around the world, including the Guardian in the U.K. and The Brooklyn Paper in Brooklyn, of course.

After OSFO’s rinse, Smartmom gasped.

The middle section of OSFO’s head was platinum blonde, which made her look a bit like Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter’s archenemy. Soon it was time to apply the Manic Panic turquoise dye. OSFO took one last look at the color samples on tiny pieces of hair.

“I want the turquoise,” she said and never looked surer of anything in her life.

Two hours later, the deed was done. OSFO’s hair was cut into a stylish shoulder-length bob and there was a big patch of turquoise right in the middle.

She looked radiant.

So why, you’re probably wondering (oh Smartmom knows you’re judging her) why, why, why did Smartmom let OSFO do it?

Good question (and it’s one that Smartmom is still pondering). After all, what’s next? Tattoos and piercings? Where does this end if you start with pink streaks at 10 and go turquoise at 11?

The truth is Smartmom loves the fact that OSFO is so comfortable in her own skin and has such a clear sense of how she wants to look.

It’s far different from the way Smartmom felt as a girl. Her mom, Manhattan Granny, picked out her clothes until she was a freshman in high school. Sure, Manhattan Granny had great taste, but there are just so many striped Marimekko shirts and classic button-downs you can own.

And in some ways her mother’s strong opinions about style blocked Smartmom’s ability to define her own look. To this day, she dresses for her mother when they get together. She even dresses for her mother when they’re not together. Her mother is the style police and Smartmom is constantly measuring herself against that standard.

OK, her mother looks fabulous all the time. And she’s skinny and always has a fabulous haircut. But sometimes you just want to be yourself.

Speaking of hair, Manhattan Granny always trimmed Smartmom’s hair. And young Smartmom always wore it in a side part with a barrette — sometimes with a bow. Very classic, very girlish: very much Manhattan Granny’s vision of her little girl.

Smartmom is proud of OSFO’s quest to hone her own identity and define the way she wants to look. To this day, Smartmom struggles with that. She struggles with who she wants to be when she puts on clothing and when she cuts her hair.

Sometimes she wishes she had just a strand of OSFO’s confidence and creative flair when it comes to how she presents herself to the world.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”

Next week: OSFO’s schoolmates react to the new look.

Updated 5:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sarah from Prospect Heights/ Crown Heights says:
Wonderful! My brother loved to dye his hair in high school. Some adults were mortified that my parents let him do it, but they were firm- "Of all the forms of rebellion, this is nothing." Safe and no harm to self or others.

Even though he looked ridiculous (not nearly as stylish as your daughter sounds), my parents stuck it out, knowing with firm confidence that the benefits would outweigh the embarrassment over time.
Nov. 11, 2008, 2:31 pm

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