When I think of Yoko Ono, I think of watching clips of her and John Lennon sitting in bed with a room full of reporters and three feet of hair between them. To me, this seemed a prime example of beauty-as-activism (a "bed-in," if you will). Long hair was not only a statement of non-conformity; John and Yoko used it to associate their celebrity with anti-war activism.
“Did you know the woman who cuts my hair also cuts Yoko Ono’s hair?” said me every time someone has said anything about my hair in the past three or so years. I may have a pathological desire to share any degree of connection with a celebrity, but since Yoko’s iconic image is so closely tied to her hair, I always found this a relevant talking point.
The extremely talented Leila Vea Lewis has been sneaking into the Dakota (an exclusive building on New York's Upper West Side) at nightfall for years to style Yoko’s shocking black locks. (Fun fact: Rosemary's Baby was shot in the Dakota.)
A Vidal Sassoon protégé, Leila has been a dear friend ever since she accidentally dropped a bowling ball on my foot. The kicker of that story is that we weren't even bowling. Swollen toe aside, her charm and hilarity won me over and she became the first friend I ever let cut my hair.
Of course, it was love at first trim. She was ridiculously underpriced for her talent and, once I discovered the Yoko connection, I vowed not to let anyone touch my “bed-in” hair ever again.
Over the years, my hair went from mermaid to full on John-and-Yoko-love-child. While long hair was a sign of rebellion and modernity back in the day, I started to feel like it was losing its edge. Additionally, I found out Leila was moving to the west coast, so I decided to take advantage of her Vidal Sassoon bob credentials ASAP.
Friends and coworkers begged me not to cut off my hair, but that just made me want to lop it off more. I hate the idea of having my identity tied to a single bodily feature. The only hair I’m OK being associated with is on my brows.
I went to see Leila at De Berardinis in Chelsea for the cut. As she chopped off two pigtails and five years of hair, I realized this was the rebellious, modern cut I wanted--a blunt, square bob that almost looked self-cut.
Leila teased my hair and added color to the bottom half of the bob to give it a sun-kissed look. She lifted my natural hair about four shades.
After detangling and washing with Kerastase Chroma Reflect Shampoo and Conditioner, she went to work on my square bob. The color ended up being a perfectly subtle change. As my mother put it, I “went for the B cup instead of double Ds.” I’m not ruling out bigger hair changes in the future, but baby steps for now.
It sounds trite, but leaving the salon, I felt like a different person. Not so much a new person, just a younger version of myself. Hair is such a simple way to transform the way we feel. Suddenly, I had a neck and shoulders and a face!
I feel more myself with shorter hair. Being comfortable in my own skin was something I didn’t even realize I had been missing until I had it back.
With Leila headed to the left coast, I have no idea what I'll do with my rapidly growing hair (Yoko must be feeling the same panic), but mostly I’m going to miss my friend. Alas, the heads of Santa Barbarians (that’s what they’re called, right?) are about to get a hell of a lot more stylish. Thank you, dear Leila, for the memories and the best hair days ever.
Are you friends with your hairstylist? What do you think of my lob?