Barbie’s Perfect Haircut

Barbie after the haircut

I strive for perfection in each blog post.  So, pursuing a holistically complete piece involves attention to detail.  Therefore, I’ll use every available resource and follow each idea to it’s conclusion.  The results may not be perfect but I’ll know I did my best.    

For example, while researching material for “The President Talks to Congress,” I came across Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series of paintings.

Barbie before the haircut

Recreating the paintings in a satirical mixed media format sounded like a good visual.  Earlier in the week, I had stumbled upon a Barbie mannequin doll at a thrift store.

It dawned on me that the oversized doll head would make a good focal point for the “Freedom of Expression” painting.  As a satirical reference point, I used a recent Twitter feed highlighting the shenanigans of “Karens.”

For those outside of the Twitterverse, a “Karen” is a middle class, suburban woman.  Karens have rights and are always right.  If the McDonald’s drive through screws up her order, Karen has the right to the manager’s personal phone number.  If Karen doesn’t want a speeding ticket, the officer has no right to issue the citation.

Karen haircut

In addition to her unique expressive style, one of Karen’s identifying characteristics is her  hairstyle. 

The idea for the image took life.  All I needed was the haircut. 

Getting the haircut seemed like a piece of cake.  I’ll go in, the stylist will lop off and trim the frizz to resemble the Karen haircut.  After all, stylists are trained professionals.  Moreover, I presumed aspiring hairdressers trained on mannequins long before they cut human hair.  So, cutting Barbie’s hair would be like a trip to the old neighborhood.  Then, we’ll all have a good laugh at the experience.

Great clips

Great Clips sounded like the best place for the haircut. It’s a chain with reasonable prices and they cut hair from all walks of life. 

I walked into the salon, carrying Barbie like a triumphant Perseus holding Medusa’s peroxide addicted half-sister.  A stylist in the middle of the salon shouted, “Welcome to Great Clips!” and approached the counter.  “What kind of cut would you like today?”

I explained that the haircut wasn’t for me but the mannequin tucked under my arm. I showed her an image of the Karen haircut. No laughter, just bewilderment.  She told me she would need to get the manager.

The manager came to the counter, I repeated my request and she examined Barbie.  Even though her tone remained upbeat and affable, she told me they wouldn’t give Barbie a trim.

“It’s not human hair.  It’s plastic, so we can’t brush the hair.  And, this looks like an expensive mannequin and we wouldn’t want to be held responsible if something were to happen to it.”

I explained that I paid next to nothing for the mannequin. And,  I’d sign a waiver absolving Great Clips of any responsibility.  I also didn’t need a perfect haircut, just something to look like the picture.

“I’m sorry,’ she said, still upbeat.  “But we can’t cut the hair because Great Clips can’t risk the liability.  Have a great day.”

Hairdo by J.C. store front

Great Clips stalled, but didn’t stop, my pursuit for the detail.  Driving home, I spotted the sign for Hairdo by J.C. Salon.  Here’s where I would get Barbie’s trim.  A small, independent salon not shackled by corporate liability. 

I walked into the salon, toting Barbie more like a bowling ball than a trophy.  A thin woman sat behind a partition of artificial flowers.  She was focused on a plate of empanadas.  “Can I help you?” she asked between bites.

I raised Barbie to the only open space in the wall of flowers.  “Can you cut her hair?”

She took the doll and ran a brush through her hair.  “How do you want the cut?”

I showed her the Karen picture and she rotated Barbie.  “How do you want the back?”  I hadn’t thought about the back.  I downloaded a back pic of the Karen haircut and showed her the image.

“Do you want a blow dry?”  A blow dry seemed a bit superfluous so I opted out.  “So, can you cut her hair?”

She pivoted Barbie, looking at the underside of her torso.  She spun Barbie upright again, palmed her like a basketball and twisted her head like a jar of peanut butter.

“Yes, I can but I can’t.”  She put Barbie on the counter.  “I need to put her head on a table.” 

“It’s on a table now.”

“Yes, but I need the special table to put her head on.  I have the table at home.  Come back tomorrow and I can cut her hair.”

Liability and specialized mannequin tables were preventing me from meeting a self-imposed deadline. And, Hairdo by J.C. is a 25 minute drive from my neighborhood.  So I decided to take my chances closer to home.

Ndey’s Hair and Beauty Salon is less than a mile from from my house.

Ndey’s hair salon

It occupies a small space between a Family Dollar and a Mexican restaurant.

I walked in, carrying Barbie like a loaf of stale rye bread. The salon was empty and a lone woman shouted at me from the back, “Hello!  Can I help you? Stay there!”

She came to the front and introduced herself as Ndey Camara, the owner.  I pitched my Barbie haircut for the third time.

“I’m confused,” she said.  “It’s not human hair.  It’s plastic.  I’m not sure if I can do it perfect.” I reassured Ndey that perfection wasn’t an issue and that less than perfect might be ideal. 

Ndey sat down in a styling chair and placed Barbie in her lap.  She began brushing Barbie’s hair with an oversized brush.  She used brute force, like a bodybuilder working the triceps on a weight machine.  I started to understand why the people at Great Clips didn’t want to take on the project.

After straightening the hair, Ndey took out hair clippers and continued working her triceps.  Her struggles were tangible, like a sheep farmer shearing a dreadlocked ewe.  She changed to scissors, with not much more success.  She feverishly went back and forth from clippers to scissors to brush. 

During the cut, Ndey kept a running monologue, not speaking to anyone in particular, but almost forcing herself to rise to the challenge.  “It’s so difficult.  It’s not human hair.”  Nonetheless, plastic hair amassed on the floor as Barbie morphed from frizzy sun worshipper to steely eyed Karen the complainant.

From time to time Ndey looked up and told me, “I’m trying my best but it’s not human hair.”  She was visibly determined to shape Barbie’s plastic hair into a hairdo no Karen could complain about. 

After about thirty minutes of straightening, clipping and cutting, Ndey held up Barbie.  We both examined her handiwork.  “It’s not perfect but I did my best,” she said

I gave her my honest assessment.  “She’s beautiful.”

Salvador Dali said, “Do not fear perfection.  You will never attain it.”  My quest to create the perfect detail for a blog piece met challenges and roadblocks.  The hairdressers at Great Clips feared liability more than perfection.  In addition, the stylist at Hairdo by J.C. feared inadequate equipment would hinder the creative process.

Still, Ndey faced the same challenges as the Great Clips and Hairdo by J.C.  Moreover, she knew that she couldn’t give Barbie a perfect haircut.  However, Ndey strived for perfection fearlessly.  We both knew she did her best. 

Rating: 1 out of 5.

6 thoughts on “Barbie’s Perfect Haircut

  1. Sounds like the hairdresser did a better job than my son’s barber!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ndey worked so hard on that haircut. She won my undying respect. I think she’ll do kids too. 😉Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a funny post! Good on Ndey for giving it a go.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing study in human response to challenge and conditioning … Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ndey did an extraordinary job under unique conditions. I still applaud her efforts. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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