Okay, here’s my dirty secret. I color my hair. It turns out that I have a few gray hairs, I’m sure more a result of stress than age (I have four children after all.) I’ve been coloring my hair for a few years now. Okay, twelve to be exact. My husband found my first gray hair on my 30th birthday and I’ve been lying to the public regarding my true hair color ever since.
I’m embarrassed to say that when we were applying to the Foreign Service, one of my big concerns was–Would I be able to find someone to color my hair in the outer reaches of Africa or Carjackistan or Abayaland? When we received our assignment to Taiwan I was afraid that the only hair colors I would find would be black and blacker. And I’m a little pasty to be going brunette. (I’m a bit old to be sporting Goth.) So I was hugely relieved when some expats here told me of a great salon that caters to western women.
My first hair appointment in Asia was pure heaven. The girl who washed my hair must have graduated Summa Cum Laude from hair washing school because she gave me a 20 minute shampoo/scalp massage that was pure genius. Then she wrapped my hair in a towel and gave me a 10 minute back massage. I sigh and go doughy eyed just thinking about it. People often times go in between hair cuts and pay just to get their hair washed. It’s my new favorite Asian thing.
Anyway, when I asked my hair dresser if she thought she had colors to match my current U.S.-dyed hair she looked at me and said, “Is this your first time in Asia?”
“I can tell. Yes, we have your color here.” (I think I may have offended her.)
So my hair color is no longer a concern. I sleep easier. Moral of the story: It’s better to offend an Asian hairdresser than to admit one has gray hair.
Although I couldn’t quite rid myself of my addiction to hair dye, when we joined the Foreign Service, I decided that I needed to scale back a bit on my high maintenance ways. I tried, I honestly tried to use grocery store shampoo and conditioner, but in the end I shipped ten of the largest bottles of Biolage shampoo and conditioner I could find. Also, racked with fear that I wouldn’t be able to buy makeup that a pasty white chick could wear, I stocked up on so much makeup that I was given seven free Clinique gift bags. (I know what you’re thinking, only old ladies use Clinique anymore. Everyone is now using MAC makeup. But the swarms of teenagers and young hip moms at the MAC counter scare me and I always find myself back at the Clinique counter with the other old ladies. Call me old fashion.)
And since I’m on the subject of fashion, back in the U.S. I wear a size 8 pants. (There, I said it!) Turns out, there is not a Chinese woman alive who wears a size 8. The women here range from size 0 to size 2. The very most obese woman might wear a size 4 pant on her most bloated day and even then she’ll need a belt to keep them up. Last month I tried on a pair of pants for the first and last time here. I couldn’t even come close to squeezing my gigantic Anglo-Saxon hips into the largest size they had. (The humiliation!)
And speaking of large body parts, the other day a woman actually laughed out loud when I told her I wear a size 9 shoe. Yes women of Asia, I am Gigantor!
So now, like a closet porn-addict, I do my pants and shoe shopping from the privacy of my personal computer when no one is around to catch me in my humiliation.
So much for scaling back on my high maintenance ways.