11.656 instagram followers.
If people kept flowing in like they had been these past few weeks she would hit 20.000 in no time. Monica smiled to herself, more followers obviously meant more exposure and more exposure would in turn lead to better sponsorship deals. Not so long ago she had somewhat nervously decided to take the plunge and fully commit herself to becoming an instagram influencer. It was her friend Ellen, who after months of bragging and showing off trinkets she received from sponsors, that had finally convinced her. While Ellen herself had no small following on the social platform herself, Monica’s followers count was growing so much that she would no doubt surpass her friend very soon. Her instant online popularity was no surprise to those who knew her as Monica was by all accounts a pretty girl. The combination of her mesmerizing green eyes, slender figure, perfect smile and high cheekbones often made men and women alike stare as she passed them by in the street. Her perfectly straightened raven black hair dangled past her shoulder blades and only a very untimely case of the flu had stood between her and the title of prom queen a few years prior. She took great pride in her appearance and every day she would spend up to two hours making sure her hair, makeup and outfit looked perfectly, often times sharing the whole ordeal with her followers through her instagram story.
Monica looked away from her phone screen realizing she had spent the last 5 minutes gazing at her follower count. “Okay Mo”, she muttered to herself, “quit dreaming and get to work”. She hastily slipped out of her pajamas and put her phone on the night’s cabinet. As she opened the shower curtain she quickly went over today’s planning: A visit to the hair salon and dinner with the family at her mom’s house at five. Trips to the salon always relaxed her, just an hour or two of comfortably nipping coffee and chatting with the hairdresser while she was being taken care of was one of her favourite things to do. However, today she wouldn’t be visiting her usual salon. Just last week she was approached by a marketing agency called SLP Promotions who had offered her a free treatment at a local salon and a series of free hair care products, all she had to do was post a picture on instagram after the haircut and promote the salon. This being the first real sponsorship deal that she had gotten she eagerly agreed to it, already dreaming of the free conditioners and shampoos that were included in the package. After getting out of the shower Monica walked over to the bed where she had laid out her clothes for the day. She donned a cute white top, tucked it neatly in her jeans shorts and topped off the look with her Gucci designer belt. Finally, she tried on a few different sets of earrings eventually settling for the big hoops she and Ellen had bought last Thursday on one of their latest shopping sprees. Throwing a quick glance in the mirror she hummed happily and took a quick picture for her instagram story #salontime#excited before hurrying out the door.
The salon she had to go to was called Debbie’s Hair Studio and while it was located on one of the busier streets in town, Monica had never heard of or seen it before. After looking for a full 10 minutes she nervously glanced at her watch, 9:55, the appointment was at ten and she was no closer to finding the damn thing then she was when she stepped out of her door. “Dammit” she mumbled to herself. “My first decent sponsor deal and I can’t even find the place, what kind of a professional am I even”. She tried asking some passersby but all of them simply shrugged when asked. Monica was getting quite worked up about the whole situation when she suddenly spotted something that resembled one of those old barber poles in the corner of her eye. She walked over and there, partially hidden behind some scaffolding was a tiny shop with the words Debbie’s Hair studio printed in bright pink letters above the door. She let go a sigh of relief and checked her watch 9:58, perfectly on time.
A bell chimed rather loudly when she pushed open the door and an oddly familiar voice yelled “be right there” from somewhere in the back end of the shop. The salon was small and pretty old fashioned, a lone antique barber stool stood opposite the door and the rest of the tiny space was taken in by a washing table and a desk on which a huge amount of hair care products were neatly stacked. Monica maneuvered past the chair and started checking out the products on the desk. This must be an absolute fortune, she thought, boxes upon boxes of hair dye, shampoos and conditioners. “Monica? Oh it is really you! Girl how are you?” She looked up, before her stood a somewhat chubby woman dressed in a pink apron. Monica had a confused expression on her face, the woman did look quite fierce. She had a multitude of piercings, a labret and 3 rings in her lower lip, a small diamond stud in her nose and 2 more rings in her right eyebrow. Her blonde hair was cut as a short pixie, highlighted with shades of purple. She had a bright smile on her face. Despite the piercings the face did look a little bit familiar to Monica, then it dawned on her: Debbie’s Hair Studio, Debbie Howzer. “Oh my God”, thought Monica. Debbie was a bit of an awkward girl that she had gone to high school with Due to her chubby figure and strange behaviour Debbie had quickly become the butt of many of Monica’s friend group’s jokes. Ellen in particular would go quite hard on the girl especially after poor Debbie had asked Monica out for prom. Monica had nothing against lesbian girls or anyone of the LGBT+ community but due to the shock and the franckness of the proposal she had probably turned Debbie down a little too harshly. This had of course encouraged Ellen and the rest of the group for teasing Debbie even more. She noticed that she had been staring for a while and finally managed to mutter “heeey Debbie long time no see” to which she added a nervous laugh. Oh God, she thought this is going to be so damn awkward.
Debbie did not seem to notice and jabbered on “I knew it was you when I saw the name on the papers SLP sent me, you know the agency”. “Come on have a seat at the washing table and we’ll fix you right up.” Monica was still a bit bewildered but by the time Debbie started washing her hair she relaxed a little. They talked about how life had been going for them since high school. Debbie had apparently started at the salon right after graduating and when the previous retired she had bought the place and done a bit of rebranding. She took her time, caressing Monica’s long hair, applying shampoo and firmly, yet carefully rubbing her scalp. The initial awkwardness Monica had felt had faded completely, maybe Debbie did not hold a grudge, it was almost 6 years ago after all and the teasing had mostly been foolish kids stuff. They were both adults now with their own lives and as they talked Monica learned some things about Debbie that she did not know before. By the time she ushered Monica to the barber chair, she was fully relaxed. “Alright let’s have at you shall we” Debbie said excitedly. Monica smiled “Just a trim and a bit of brushing please”. The hairstylist laughed, “oh honey no can do, you do know what kind of salon this is right?”. Monica was taken aback “what do you mean?”
“Well I usually work with models that want a little bit more extreme styles”
“Like your own?”, said Monica pointing to Debbie’s pixie cut.
“Something like that”, Debbie grinned while she said it.
“I’m sorry Debbie but I’m perfectly happy with my hair. Let’s just leave it here and I’ll be off”. When she tried to get up from the chair Debbie put her hand on her shoulder and pushed her back surprisingly hard. “Honey, you did sign a contract…” “Yeah okay but I like my hair! I want out of the contract!” Debbie walked over to the desk and grabbed the paperwork. “Look I don’t pretend to understand all this legal speak but this does seem pretty official and that’s your signature at the bottom isn’t it?” Monica moaned and felt her resistance waning “yeah but…” “Look”, Debbie said while putting her hands on Monica’s shoulders again “Don’t you worry about it, I’m going to make you look real nice, okay?” Monica stared blankly into the mirror, looking at her long black hair and let out a big sigh. “Fantastic” Debbie turned around the mirror so Monica could no longer see what the hairstylist was doing. “Part of the surprise package”, she winked. She proceeded to take a big cape from a cabinet nearby and swung it over Monica. The cape was made out of Denim and felt quite heavy.
She felt the cape tightly pressing against her chest as Debbie was combing her hair with a metal comb. Monica’s nerves were through the roof. She couldn’t even remember the last time her hair had been shorter than shoulder length and now Debbie was going to give her “a more extreme style”, whatever that meant. Jesus, she thought to herself. This is madness, and the worst part is that I can’t even see what she’s doing. She felt how her hair was being pulled together in a ponytail and heard how Debbie rummaged through her tools. Suddenly she heard a loud snip and looked up. Debbie held up the ponytail and laughed “You won’t be needing this anymore”. Next Debbie sectioned of the hair in parts “Now this part might feel a little funny” she said as something clicked and started humming. Monica felt the cool steel of clippers going up and down her neck and the back of her head as the stylist held her down. “Go ahead touch it” Debbie said when she was done. Monica anxiously put her hands on the back of her head. She almost shrieked as she only felt a little stubble. “Feels good doesn’t it” she winked again. Debbie pressed on and pushed Monica’s head slightly to the side. Again she felt the clippers hum, this time on the left side of her head. “Oh my god”, Monica thought. She’s giving me an undercut! Some of the models on her instagram feed had a similar haircut and while she admitted that some of them looked really good with it, never in a million years had she imagined getting one herself.
She had no time to ponder however because Debbie was already clippering down the other side of her head as well. It all seemed to be going so fast and before she knew it Debbie put the clippers away and walked back over to the desk. She came back holding a pot of shaving cream and started lathering up the sides and back of Monica’s head. The shaving cream felt cool on the clippered parts of her head. “Now for the next part you’ll have to sit very still honey. Can you do that?” Monica nodded obediently. This haircut was far more than she had bargained for yet she didn’t feel scared. Maybe it was debbie’s soothing voice and comforting touch or just the curiosity over how this whole thing was going to turn out. She felt Debbie’s razor slowly scrape the side of her head. She moved skillfully towards her nape and with slow, deliberate scratches removed the remaining hair. When she was done Debbie used a towel to clean the remaining shaving cream. Monica couldn’t contain her curiosity and immediately touched her freshly shaved nape. “OMG” she shouted, where there had been stubble before now there was just nothing. She went over the exposed skin with her fingers and fell still. “Shaving with a razor just always adds that extra touch don’t you think?” debbie said. “Now let’s get you some aftershave and finish you up”. Again she felt Debbies skillful hands massaging her sides and temples while she applied the soothing aftershave. It felt cool her skin and smelled like green apple. Debbie took up the scissor again and started cutting the remaining part of Monica’s hair. Quite a lot of cutting for an undercut she thought, but I’m sure she knows what she’s doing. Suddenly she heard the clippers turn back on and turned around with a look of discomfort on her face. “We’re almost done honey. This is the last thing we’ll do I promise”. She felt the clippers vaguely in her hair while Debbie combed though it with the metal comb. When the clippers were switched off Monica’s head felt light. She wanted to touch it but Debbie stopped her. “ Just a second honey let me just brush off these small hairs and we’ll have a look at the new you. Monica glanced at Debbie with a nervous look. After she had cleaned up Debbie turned around the mirror. Monica gasped, she had been dead wrong. Debbie had not given her an undercut. she looked at the woman staring back at her in the mirror, both sides of her head had been completely shaved up to about an inch over her ears. It was the top of her head that really shocked her however as she now sported a flattop that could not be longer than 2 inches. She felt numb when she moved her shaking hands over head. She looked at Debbie “ What …what is this” “Calm down,” Debbie said. “You signed up for this remember. For the record, I think you look great, the cut really frames your face and the shaved sides give it a really edgy look.” Monica looked back into the mirror and started sobbing “But this isn’t what I want at all, I look like a freak”. Debbie sighed: “Look, I know its a bit of a shock right now but believe me. People sit in this chair everyday, I’ve seen lots of hairstyles and god knows how many faces so I tend to have an idea of how to find a nice cut that really brings out your features. Besides, you want to become a successful instagram model right? You gotta set yourself apart from the rest somehow.”
“But why did you cut it so short? She moaned, “I would have been fine with an undercut but this..”
She had to admit that the flattop did complement her face shape and her eyes in an odd way.. “Its still way too short”, she moaned. “Well it’ll grow on you”, Debbie chuckled, “sorry barbers joke. Honey, I’ll be honest with you, your hair isn’t even what makes you so attractive. Look in the mirror and tell me that the short cut doesn’t bring out your eyes beautifully”. Monica reluctantly stared in the mirror. She hated to admit it but Debbie was right. Her eyes, which had always been one of her best features were downright enthralling now. However, she was still somewhat angry at Debbie. “You could have at least told me what you were going to do…” Debbie ignored her and walked over to the counter again. She produced a small pot of butch wax and started carefully sculpting Monica’s flattop. After this she removed the cape and gave Monica a kiss on the cheek.
Monica slowly rose from the chair and walked to the counter. “Now Debbie said cheerfully, I believe the sponsorship deal included you getting some free hair care products so I’ve made a little box for you. It contains everything you need: some butch wax, aftershave and shaving cream. The styling takes some practice but you’ll have plenty of time for that.We should probably also schedule your next appointment for convenience sake. “My next appointment? What do you mean? It’s going to take months to grow this out!”. Debbie sighed impatiently “Honey, you really need to start reading your contracts before signing them. The sponsorship deal clearly states that it lasts for six months…” Monica threw her hands in the air, fuming “sure because why the fuck not?” Debbie went on as if she had not heard the outburst. This is a pretty high maintenance cut so you’ll have to come in for appointments around every two weeks. Say, Thursday the 25th? “. “Sure”, Monica just wanted to get out of the small shop at this point. When she was about to walk out Debbie stopped her Aren’t you forgetting something babe? A quick picture for the fans?” Monica quickly took out her phone, forced a half smile and reluctantly took the selfie. This damned contract was going to be the death of her instagram career. She posted the photo without even looking at it, planning to delete it the moment she got home.
She hurried out of the shop, back to the safety of her apartment. As she passed the store windows she stared in bewilderment at the reflection of her own face. As soon as she got home she would search the internet for wigs she told herself. She mostly blamed herself and the stupid ambition she had had. How had she ever thought she would make it big on instagram? Maybe this was a sign that she should just go back to her old job waiting tables. What she didn’t know however was that right at that moment, only minutes after posting her latest selfie, her instagram follower count was changing rapidly…