Okay I lied. There’s going to be one more installment here because this was beginning to get a little long. Coming soon, though! Until then, here’s part three…
Pamela stood speechless in the doorway of her bathroom. Tracey calmly put down the haircutting shears she had just used to cut a two-foot chunk out of the hair on the left side of her head and began to laugh. “You should see your face, Pam!”
“I can’t believe you did that.”
Tracey turned to the mirror, surveying the damage. She examined the cut ends of her wavy, dyed red hair, now falling below her chin but above her shoulders. “Honestly neither can I.” Then she grinned, making eye contact with Pamela through the mirror. “But watching those videos tonight, Pam, they were just so inspiring. I just felt like I had to do something.”
Earlier that evening, the two friends had watched several high-profile female and femme cosplayers shave their heads in order to protest the misogyny and sometimes outright abuse they’d experienced at the hands of men in the community. They were tired of these men justifying their vulgar comments and inappropriate touching by saying things like: “You wouldn’t be dressed like that if you didn’t want the attention” and “If you can’t handle the culture”—referring to the toxic culture that had been cultivated, or at least enabled, by the organizers of these events—”just don’t come.” The newly denuded cosplayers were determined to spend the foreseeable future dressing for cons and other events as strong female and nonbinary characters who would at the same time be repulsive to many of the men who believed female characters in comics, sci-fi, and fantasy existed only to fulfill their fantasies.
The cosplayers who had buzzed their mostly-long hair to near-nothingness were inviting other female and femme cosplayers to join what they called the #notyourcosplayer movement and get radical haircuts themselves in an effort to reclaim the space as their own. Pamela and Tracey had discussed joining themselves, but Pamela almost immediately had second thoughts, blaming the bottle of wine she and Tracey had shared on mostly-empty stomachs. After they finished a second bottle, however, Tracey announced she was ready to commit to #notyourcosplayer. Pamela thought she had managed to convince Tracey to wait until the morning, when she could gauge how many other cosplayers had joined up and would also be sober enough to decide whether she really wanted to undertake such a drastic change. But then Tracey picked up those shears, placed them at a random spot in her hip-length dyed red hair, and closed the blades. It was a far cry from shaving her head, but still, in that spontaneous moment, she lost about four years’ worth of growth.
“I just hope you don’t regret that in the morning,” Pamela said, looking from Tracey to the long lock of hair on the floor and back to Tracey.
“I’m confident I won’t,” Tracey replied. “Now, where’s that pizza we ordered? I’m starving.” She slipped past Pamela and proceeded back to the kitchen in search of the long-cooled pizza they had ordered earlier in the evening. As she passed, Pamela could see the arresting contrast between the short hair on the left side of her friend’s head and the long hair still hanging from the back and right side. She threw her own thick brown hair—which, falling to her waist, had been shorter than Tracey’s, and was still shorter than most of Tracey’s, but would soon be longer than all of Tracey’s—over one shoulder and held on protectively.
Pamela was now absolutely certain that as much as she supported the idea of #notyourcosplayer, she couldn’t do what Tracey had just done, let alone actually shave her head as she had seen some of the other women do.
Tracey had had way too much wine to be able to drive home, so she slept in Pamela’s guest room for the night—or at least, she tried to. Every time she rolled to her right, the freshly cut hair on the left side of her face would tickle her chin in a way that was completely foreign to her. She tried to put her hair up in a loose ponytail, but the short side kept coming out. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so rash with the shears earlier.
A little after midnight, Tracey turned the bedside lamp on and reached for her phone. She absentmindedly played with the ends of her newly severed hair as she sent a text to her hairstylist, Yvonne. Yvonne also cosplayed—that’s how she and Tracey and also Pamela had all met—most recently as Anya Corazón, aka Spider-Girl, her sable-colored hair usually tied into a high ponytail that cascaded down her back. “Sorry for the late text. May have gotten a little caught up in the #notyourcosplayer excitement tonight,” she wrote, attaching a selfie to show her two very different lengths. “Not sure I want to go all the way, but definitely need to fix this somehow. Can you fit me in in the morning?”
Less than a minute later, Yvonne replied. “Girl, you and me both.” Immediately after the text came a photo. It was Yvonne’s high Spider-Girl ponytail…but it was no longer attached to Yvonne. Instead, it lay lifeless on the floor of her salon.
“Whaaaaat?” Tracey texted back.
“I can fit you in at 10,” Yvonne replied. “Steven’s going to clean me up first thing, so you’ll be amongst the first to see my new look.”
Tracey couldn’t believe Yvonne was so casual about having just hacked off all that hair. For a stylist, Yvonne played it surprisingly “safe” with her. She might tweak the color or the style every so often, but it was always long, always some shade of brown. But if Yvonne was getting in on #notyourcosplayer, Tracey thought, surely that meant that a lot of other dedicated cosplayers were, too.
She confirmed that 10 a.m. would work and then flipped over to Instagram, navigating immediately to the #notyourcosplayer hashtag. It had only been about six hours since it was introduced, but there were already nearly 500 uses of it—ten times more than Pamela had said it would take for her to join in the campaign.
Tracey scrolled through. There were a lot of reaction videos, re-shares, solidarity posts. There were also a lot—a lot, a lot—of women and femmes who seemed to have fully committed to the cause. Some posted before and after photos, some videos of at least part of the process, some photos of their severed hair on the ground, and some others seemed to have gone live with their spontaneous haircuts, broadcasting the whole thing to anyone who wanted to watch it in the moment it was happening.
What Tracey saw was all as sincere as it was inspiring.
A woman who had previously worn her wavy blonde hair almost to her knees as Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride had not taken clippers to her head, but had cut her hair short enough to make possible her stated intention to begin cosplaying as The Man in Black from the same film. (Not technically in keeping with the rough “play a different bad-ass female character, just one with a lot less hair” guidelines of #notyourcosplayer, but she had cut off more than three feet of hair and people seemed very supportive in the comments.)
Another blonde cosplayer who often attended events as Supergirl posted a video of her chopping at her thick shoulder blade-length—seemingly at random—and even used clippers for at least part of what would now be her Tank Girl cosplay; as she hacked away at her hair, she talked about the time a male panelist at a big event pretended to trip as he was exiting the stage and landed with both hands on her breasts.
A podcaster who went to every major con dressed as Poison Ivy now sported a very short, slightly punky crop inspired by early illustrations of The X-Men’s Rachel Grey and used the photo caption to remind followers that they used they/them pronouns.
An Indian-American cosplayer who had embraced the role of Ms Marvel herself, Kamala Khan, had ceded every hair on her head to #notyourcosplayer and would now be cosplaying as the bald South Asian Marvel villainess, Jinx; she said that if she tired of that character, she could always start playing the famously bald, famously South Asian Lieutenant Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
A YouTuber who bounced between Lagos and LA and was easily spotted at events by the way their bleached white-blonde hair contrasted against their mocha-colored skin announced they would still be playing attending cons dressed as Storm—only the more modern version of the character, rather than the classic, long-haired version—as they revealed their new mohawk.They noted that if it wasn’t enough to get men to leave them alone, they’d just go full Dora Milaje.
Tracey also noticed several posts with location tags from far-away locations. It seemed several prominent Japanese cosplayers were in on the plan before it was officially announced, as the timestamps on their posts showing smiling faces and closely-cropped hair were timestamped several hours ago, when they might otherwise have still been in bed. The international coordination of the launch of #notyourcosplayer, she realized, also extended to cosplayers in India and Russia and New Zealand. She saw all manner of makeovers featuring short and shaved hairstyles, sported by cosplayers around the globe.
This wasn’t just a small handful of cosplayers trying to effect change. It was an international movement. And one that Tracey, having so casually chopped a large section of her hair earlier that evening, was well on her way to joining.
Pamela woke up to the sound of her printer running in the guest room. What in the world was Tracey doing? She grabbed a bathrobe and opened the door to her room with the intention of asking Tracey to please hold off on whatever she was working on, but stopped abruptly. Tracey had clearly been printing a while before the noise actually woke Pamela, because the hallway was lined with printed photos and illustrations, thoughtfully held in place with painter’s tape so as not to damage Pamela’s walls.
“Good morning!” Tracey said, noticing her friend as she exited the guest room with a small stack of papers she was clearly planning to add to her makeshift gallery.
“Um…” Pamela didn’t know where to begin.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t wake up until I was totally finished with this, but you’re here now, so…” Tracey approached her friend and took her by the hand, slowly leading her toward where the first pictures were tacked to the wall. “I had trouble falling asleep last night because the section of hair that I cut kept tickling me in the face.”
“I told you you’d have regrets.”
“Yes and no. Come over here.” The two neared the first image. “I texted Yvonne last night to tell her I might have gotten a bit carried away and I’d need her assistance this morning. She sent me this.” Tracey gestured to the first print-out.
Pamela gasped. “No way! Is that…?”
“It’s Yvonne’s, and it’s because of #notyourcosplayer.” They continued slowly down the hall—Tracey with enthusiasm, Pamela with disbelief. “After I saw that, I went back to look at the hashtag to see how it was doing.” The friends slowly walked past the next several images, photos and screen grabs of female and femme cosplayers who had, in the last twelve or so hours, collectively lost hundreds of feet worth of hair. “These are a few of my favorites.”
Pamela walked past each photo, trying not to linger as she looked at the short crops and shiny heads and crewcuts and mohawks now sported by cosplayers who had all, until now, sported much more feminine styles. She was worried if she stopped at any one photo too long it would seal her fate.
Tracey stopped at one image and leaned against it so it was partially obstructed. “Last night, you told me that if fifty women or femmes had gotten involved in #notyourcosplayer by the morning, you’d do it, too.”
“No, I told you I’d think about it.”
“Okay, but what if it’s five hundred?” Tracey stepped away from the wall and revealed an enlarged screengrab featuring nothing but the hashtag and its number of uses. “This is as of about three hours ago. The current number is somewhere around 750.”
“Okay but not all of those posts can be people who shaved their heads.”
“They’re not. Plenty of people just cut their hair short, or did something aggressively asymmetrical. And, sure, before you say it, there are the people who used the hashtag without actually committing to the cause. But most of the posts I saw—and I scrolled through literal hundreds—are like the ones I printed.”
“So what are you saying?”
“That I have an appointment with Yvonne at 10. And you’re coming with me.”
At the breakfast table, Tracey scrolled through her phone, looking for photos of female superheroes and sci-fi and fantasy characters who had short hair. Occasionally she would turn her phone to Pamela, asking her opinion. “Do you think I could pull this one off?” or “Can you see me with, like, even redder hair?”
The styles Tracey was showing her ranged in length from slightly shorter than the hair Tracey had shortened herself the night before, to a short pixie with buzzed sides. None of them were nearly as short as the self-administered cuts they had seen the night before, but still, they were all significantly shorter than Pamela had ever seen Tracey wear her hair—and the friends had known each other for close to twenty years. She couldn’t believe Tracey was even considering it. Still, she understood the appeal: the campaign was an important one, and besides, a lot of the people involved looked amazing with their radical new styles. So if Tracey wanted to do this, Pamela was going to do her best to support her.
“Oh!” Tracey suddenly shouted. “I think I’ve got it!” She turned her phone back to Pamela, who found herself face-to-face with a photo of Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, her hair worn in a short, dark buzzcut.
“Yeah, I mean, you know I loved the movie and I thought she totally rocked that look. It was so different for her. I’m having trouble picturing you with hair that short but that’s just because it’s been long since we’ve known each other.”
“Oh, this one’s not for me. It’s for you.”
Pamela’s throat went dry. “I thought I was only going to the salon to support you.”
“You talked about this movie for weeks after it came out. You could totally be Furiosa,” Tracey told her friend. Pamela was silent, so Tracey continued: “Are you seriously telling me you’re going to let me do this alone?”
“You’re not alone. You’re with 750 other people, remember?”
“You know what I mean. We’ve been going to cons together since high school. There have been strange men touching our hair since high school. Isn’t it time to do something about it? Both of us?”
“I don’t know, Trace…”
“Look, you don’t have to go full Furiosa, even though I know you’d look fucking awesome. But will you do something? Show you support the cause and also your bestie?”
Pamela sighed. She did hate the hair-touchers at con, and if it turned out she was one of the last long-haired women at the next one, she could only imagine how bad they’d get. Maybe they’d be less tempted if her hair were a little shorter? Plus, #notyourcosplayer was shining a light on a pretty important issue. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll do something.”
“Good, because I already booked you the appointment right after mine.”
As Pamela and Tracey approached the salon where Yvonne worked, Shear Energy, they noticed someone with very short, very blonde hair inside, their back to the window. “Do you think that’s Yvonne?” Tracey asked.
“No way. I know she cut off her ponytail but that’s extreme even for her.”
But when they walked into the studio the mystery blonde turned and it was, indeed, Yvonne. After cutting off her long ponytail the night before, she had her long brown hair been dyed platinum and carefully sculpted into a short, boxy cut that Pamela identified as not exactly a buzzcut but not exactly a flattop, either, and that Tracey identified as: “friggin awesome!”
The stylist gave Tracey a half smile. “I was planning on going with the Ruby Rose version of Batwoman, but then Steven reminded me that if the idea of this whole thing was to present women as something other than sex objects, I shouldn’t try to emulate an actor whom literally everyone on the planet wants to have sex with. So instead, we decided my new cosplay is Foxfire from the Institute of Evil. Lucky for me I just learned that my husband always had a crush on Grace Jones, so there’s at least one man who will still want to have sex with me.”
Yvonne’s husband, Steven, who had started working in the chair next to Yvonne’s five years ago and asked Yvonne to go out with him shortly thereafter, waved from the front desk, where he was checking his schedule for the day. “You look fucking amazing, babe.”
“I’m not sure if I actually like it,” Yvonne said more quietly, hoping Steven wouldn’t hear, “but I guess that’s not really the point, is it?”
“I mean, I kind of think the point is you should feel awesome and strong and empowered without feeling like you have to look the way men conventionally think of as sexy, so if you don’t feel all those things, tell Steven to keep working on it,” Tracey said. “But for what it’s worth, I agree with Steven. You do look amazing.”
Pamela had to agree with her friend. The stylist did not look like the Yvonne she was used to seeing every four to six months for a trim; she’d been replaced by a stunning woman with big eyes and high cheekbones and a very long neck. But Pamela did not say any of this, lest she should give either Yvonne or Tracey any idea that she was willing to submit to a similar fate. She just nodded in agreement with Tracey and kept her mouth shut.
“But enough about me,” Yvonne said. “What are we doing for the two of you?” She looked at Tracey’s spontaneously shortened left locks. “Especially you?”
“I was hoping you’d help me figure that out,” Tracey said. “I have a bunch of ideas, but I’m not sure which one will work best. I’ve never had short hair before, so I really don’t know what will suit me.
“Well, let’s get you back and we can talk about it,” Yvonne said. Then, turning to Pamela, “Steven doesn’t have anyone coming in until noon so he’s going to run some errands and his chair will be empty, if you want to hang out int he back with us.” She didn’t give time for Pamela to answer, but turned and began to walk toward the back of the salon. She noted with admiration the way the stylist’s new hairstyle left nothing to the imagination when it came to her ample curves, which had previously been covered by a curtain of hair. Pamela knew the whole point of #notyourcosplayer was to show men, once and for all, that women could be superheroes and action stars and science fiction saviors without also being sex objects, but she figured it was okay for her—as a friend—to take note of how perfectly round Yvonne’s retreating bottom was.
“Are you coming, Pam?” Tracey, following Yvonne, stopped and spoke over her shoulder.
“Yep! Right behind you.” Pamela quickly trotted to catch up to the pair, trying not to spend any more time staring at Yvonne’s backside.
After a few minutes of looking at photos Tracey had saved to her phone, Yvonne stopped swiping. “Okay, let’s go with this one before we commit to anything too drastic. It’s honestly the longest your hair could be given your, um, enthusiasm with the shears last night.”
“Okay but is that going to be short enough to make a statement, do you think?”
“It’s up to you. There really aren’t any rules here. I do worry the character is a little over-sexualized, so it might not work in that regard. But let’s at least start there.”
“Start where?” Pamela asked from next station over.
“Shhh. Don’t worry about it. Focus on what we’re going to do with your hair next,” the stylist grinned at the anxious-looking brunette.
Yvonne twisted the still-rather-long bulk of Tracey’s hair and clipped it in place, leaving the shorter section hanging down. She then covered Tracey with a cape and unfastened her clip, letting her red waves fall loose. Pamela was expecting Yvonne to take time to section Tracey’s hair and was shocked when the stylist instead took up her clippers, removed the guard, and turned the machine on. For all the years Tracey spent maintaining her long hair, she seemed unfazed, staring straight into the mirror as the stylist turned on the machine, placed a comb in Tracey’s hair at the back of her neck about level with the section Tracey had cut herself last night, and then brought the clipper’s humming blades to the comb. Two feet of Tracey’s dyed-red hair rained down onto the floor. The stylist moved her comb toward Tracey’s right shoulder and repeated the process, the hungry machine making quick work of years’ worth of growth. A few more repetitions—placing the comb, bringing the clippers to it, and allowing the hair to fall—and Tracey’s hair was all one length, about two inches below her chin but two inches above her shoulders.
Tracey turned her head from side to side, smiling the freshly cut hair tickled her neck. She turned to Pamela: “Multipass?”
“Oh!” exclaimed Pamela. “The Fifth Element! Leeloo! That will totally work for you.”
“You got it!” Tracey said, turning back to the mirror and examining herself more closely. “But it doesn’t quite look right,” she said.”
“Well no,” Yvonne said. “For starters because your hair isn’t orange. I don’t have time to do the color today and besides we should make sure this is the final look before we dye your hair again. And besides that, I haven’t cut the bangs yet, and the bangs are probably the most iconic part of this haircut, other than the color. But overall the cut still isn’t finished. You cut that first section with shears, so it looks different from everything I did with the clippers. I’ll probably take everything up another half inch with the clippers, and then add a lot of texture to the bottom so everything looks deliberately uneven.”
“Whatever you think is right, Yvonne. But will it still look so…poofy after you do that?”
“Your hair is thick and it has a lot of texture. If we do the bangs like she wears them in the movie, that will take some of the bulk from the front, but the back and sides are still going to be thick. It’s not authentic to the character, but how would you feel about an undercut? It would make the shape of the haircut look much closer to the way it does in the movie.”
“For #notyourcosplayer, I’m down for anything!”
Yvonne was surprised at Tracey’s eagerness, and wanted to make clear her formerly long-haired friend understood what she meant. “Before we do that, I just want to make it clear that if we do the undercut and then you decide Leeloo isn’t the character you want to cosplay for the foreseeable future, we’re going to be skipping over a lot of the intermediate looks you showed me. You won’t have enough hair for a lot of them.
“So where would it leave me?” Tracey unlocked her phone and handed it to Yvonne, who swiped through a few pictures until she found what she was looking for.
“Well,” the stylist began, “nothing shorter than this…” swipe “…but probably more like this…” swipe “…or this. Down for anything, right?”
Pamela craned her neck to see the photos Yvonne was showing Tracey, but couldn’t see anything. Tracey studied the photos carefully, then nodded with determination. “Right. One undercut, please.”
“Trace, do you know how long it’s going to take to grow that out?” Pamela asked.
Tracey shrugged. “My hair grows fast. Don’t worry about me. Have you decided what you’re doing yet?”
“Well, no, but…”
“Please worry about your own hair and let me worry about mine, Pam. It’ll be fine. I promise.”
Tracey turned back to face the mirror, and Yvonne took the end of a comb and began to trace a line around Tracey’s head, starting just above her right ear and moving all the way to the other side. To Pamela, it looked like Tracey would be losing fully half the hair she still had left on her head.
Once Yvonne was satisfied that the line she had traced was even, she pinned everything above it to the top of Tracey’s head, then picked up her clippers and comb again. “I’m just going to get rid of the bulk and then we can decide what length we want the undercut to actually be,” the stylist explained, preempting any questions about why there still wasn’t a guard on the clippers. She turned the machine back on and lifted a section of Tracey’s hair up with a comb, sliding the blade of her clippers over the teeth of her comb. When she moved her hands, there was only an inch of hair left over Tracey’s left ear, sticking out to the side rather than hanging down.
Tracey began to laugh. “Well, if the goal is to make men sexualize me less, maybe we should just cut all my hair like that and call it a day,” she said.
“Yeah, but what character would that be?” Yvonne asked, laughing with her.
Pamela was less amused. She felt her stomach drop as her friend’s hair was reduced to probably the shortest it had been since she was a baby. Before yesterday, she never in a million years would have believed Pamela would allow clippers anywhere near her hair. She still couldn’t quite believe it, even as she watched Yvonne lift another lock of hair with her comb and zip it off with the clippers.
But Tracey was smiling serenely in the mirror, completely unflappable as years of care and growth, probably thousands of dollars of making sure her hair stayed healthy even through multiple rounds of haircolor, fell to the floor. Yvonne kept going, sending more and more four-inch locks of red waves to the ground, until the lower half of Tracey’s head was covered in an even, but unshaped, mess of inch-long red hair, barely long enough to reveal any of Tracey’s natural wave.
“Okay,” Yvonne said, turning her clippers off. “Time to pick a guard. How short do you want this undercut to be?
“What are my options?”
“Anything from an eighth of an inch to half an inch. I wouldn’t want to leave it any longer than that, and I also wouldn’t recommend going all the way down to the skin.”
“Can we start with the longest guard so that if we decide to leave Leeloo behind for someone else, we’ll have more options?”
“Not many more,” Yvonne smiled. “No matter what, it’s going to be short. But let’s start with the number four, and we can go down from there if we want to.” The stylist snapped her guard into place. “Chin down, please.”
Tracey did as instructed and lowered her chin to her chest as the stylist turned her clippers back on and placed them at the base of Tracey’s neck. “You ready?” she asked, but did not wait for an answer, instead pushing the clippers upward toward the line she had traced to demarcate the top of Tracey’s new undercut.
Pamela watched with horror and fascination as the hair on the back of Tracey’s head, already so short, was reduced by half, leaving a thick reddish pelt (her roots had apparently grown in enough that the red dye no longer extended all the way to her scalp) in its place. She wondered what it felt like—the hair itself, but also being the owner of the hair, feeling it reduced to almost nothingness. Pamela shook her head quickly to end her reverie. No. She might be curious, but not curious enough to experience it.
Tracey, meanwhile, stifled a giggle as Yvonne made that first pass up the back of her head. It wasn’t that the clippers’ blades tickled, so much, as that they felt astoundingly…pleasant? As if they were caressing her nape, even as the stripped it of its hair. The machine was warm, its vibrations somehow gentler than Tracey had expected. “If I knew how good this felt,” she said to no one in particular, “I might have thought about getting an undercut a long time ago.”
“I said something similar to Steven this morning,” Yvonne smiled, making another pass up Tracey’s nape. “It’s delicious, right?”
“Mmmmm,” Tracey sighed. Her eyes were closed and Pamela thought she saw her friend briefly bite her lower lip, but was distracted as Yvonne made another pass up the back of Tracey’s head, peeling more hair from it.
Once the back of Tracey’s head was buzzed down to an even half-inch, Yvonne moved to Tracey’s left. “Can you hold your ear down for me, please?” she asked Tracey. Tracey’s hand emerged from under her cape, folding the top of her ear over to make it easier for Yvonne to get behind it. The stylist moved her clippers around the side of Tracey’s head until it matched the back, then told Tracey she could let go of her ear. As she did, Pamela noticed how cute her friend’s ear was; she could only assume the other would be cute, too. Had she ever noticed Tracey’s ears before? Probably not. There had always been so much hair covering them up.
Yvonne moved to Tracey’s right and told Tracey to hold her ear down on that side, just like she had on the left, then again raised her clippers to Tracey’s head. Pamela couldn’t see them doing their work on this side, but she did notice the half-inch locks of hair that fell to the floor as the stylist worked. Finally, Yvonne seemed satisfied. She put her clippers down and picked up a hand mirror, giving it to Tracey. “Normally I’d clean up your neck and around your ears but I figure I’ll wait until we know we’re finished. But take a look at where we are so far.” She spun Tracey’s chair so her back was to Yvonne’s station, and her right ear was facing Pamela (who was pleased to see it was, in fact, just as cute as the left).
Tracey held the mirror up with her right hand, then gasped as she caught sight of the back of her head. Her left hand shot out from under the cape and began to caress her nape. “Oh my god, it’s so short!” she exclaimed. “And it feels amazing! And my neck looks so long!”
Yvonne smiled gently at the redhead. Tracey was far from the first client Yvonne had taken short, and this reaction was pretty universal. She waited until it seemed Tracey had spent enough time stroking her nape for the moment, then gently took the mirror from her and spun her chair back to face the mirror. “Ready to keep going?” she asked. Tracey nodded. The stylist unclipped the rest of Tracey’s hair from the top of her head and let it fall below her chin. She took the guard back off her clippers and again picked up her comb. “I’m going to take everything down another half inch. Then I’ll cut into the ends to give some texture, then we’ll do the bangs. Deal?”
“Sounds good,” Tracey said. “Hey Pam, you know what you’re doing yet?” she asked, as Yvonne switched her clippers back on.
“Uh, no. Not yet.”
“Well you’d better figure it out soon,” Yvonne jumped in, “because if not, I’m deciding for you.”
Pamela felt her stomach do a backflip at these words, and watched as Yvonne carefully placed her comb half an inch above the cut ends that Tracey had created the night before, and dragged her clippers across the comb. A light dusting of red hair fell to Tracey’s shoulders. The stylist moved the comb slightly to the right and repeated the action with her clippers, then again and again until Tracey’s hair was just barely, but still perceptibly, shorter, now ending ever so slightly closer to her chin than to her shoulders. Then she took up her shears and began to point-cut at Tracey’s ends, seemingly randomly but clearly deliberately, until Tracey’s hair really did fall just like Leeloo’s.
“I have to admit, Trace,” Pamela said. “It looks good on you.”
“It’s not finished yet,” said Yvonne. “I still have to cut the bangs.” She sectioned a triangle of hair at the front of Tracey’s head and clipped the rest of her hair back, out of the way. “Her bangs in the movie are quite short. Do you want me to go that short, or leave them a little longer in case we change our plans?”
“Um, leave them a little longer for now, I guess?”
“You got it.” Taking up her shears and her comb, Yvonne combed Tracey’s hair downward, stopping at the eyebrows, then angled her scissors upward toward the comb and began to point cut here as well. Four inches of Tracey’s hair tumbled to the mat as her left eye was revealed. Yvonne moved her comb and kept cutting. For more inches of hair fell, then another movement of the comb, another four inches, and Tracey’s right eye was revealed. “Okay,” the stylist said, stepping back and moving aside so she was’t blocking Tracey’s view of the mirror. “What do you think?”
Tracey tilted her head toward her right, then toward her left, then turned it side-to-side. “I really like it. It’s really cute…” she trailed off.
“I feel a ‘but’ coming,” Yvonne said.
“But it might be too cute. You’re right. Leeloo is highly sexualized. I thought the fact that the cut would make me look younger would make it less sexy, but with the guys who go to con, I’m worried that won’t be the case.”
“So…?” Yvonne asked.
“Tracey…” Pamela began.
“So we’re going shorter,” Tracey said. It was clear there would be no changing her mind.