Let me introduce you to Mercedes Greene, an actress in her prime. 22 years old and recently starring in a hit movie about fast cars and loose women. Of course she had been famous before that, just those movies weren’t watched by a younger audience, and were only available on certain websites.
In fact the only reason the new film she was in was so popular was the fans of her previous work. Her perfect body, pretty face and skill in the trade made many men want her. But her most desirable asset was her hair, long raven locks that cascaded down to her thighs, thick and naturally straight without any damage. Only the best hairdressers could touch it and she never trimmed more than an inch.
But Mercedes was anxious for more work, to spread her name through any way possible. So any film she was offered was accepted. Her agent Brian finally stopped checking and just gave her the job. And this seemed like no other, a few requirements he didn’t check and a day in a beauty parlour. She would be playing a mother in a backwater town.
Imagine Mercedes surprise when it turned out it was a true story and she actually was in that town. Apparently the woman saved the towns church or something. Walking through the town was strange, like something from a history book. All the women were dressed in clothes that showed zero skin, the skirts were below the knee and all of them were wearing no makeup at all.
The biggest difference was the hair. All of the women had curly hair and they were acting like it was normal. This was in stark contrast to Mercedes, her clothes were the latest trends with a skirt that threatened to show her underwear, a crop top that showed her belly button, makeup plastered on her face and her hair, long as it was, naturally straight and as the fashion magazines said, straight hair was what everyone wants.
That didn’t help in the town, where all the women scoffed at her and multiple accused her of corruption. Mercedes was happy to get to the trailers where the film was being shot from. “Ah miss Greene” said a man dressed as a stereotype of a director. “You’re late”.
“Sorry sir I got a bit lost through the town” Mercedes replied.
“No need to worry, we’ll just have to rush you to hair and beauty, I must say I am surprised you took this role given the requirements. I half expected you had backed out.” The director added, basically pushing the young actress through the trailers to the only full sized building in the area.
Inside was weird Mercedes thought. Rather than the glamorous and modern hair and beauty departments she was used to, this place looked from the 1960’s. The chairs were ancient, the tools were too, there was even large chairs with helmet style hairdryers. There was no makeup station and the stylist herself, rather than a young person, was in her late 50’s with a very curly short haircut.
“Yay this must be Mercedes!” The women said excitedly. “I’m Mildred nice to meet you.”
Mildred hugged the shocked actress, who awkwardly patted her on the back. “Yes and she needs this done quickly we only get a little bit of time with the town hall” the director said in an annoyed tone. “I know you’re excited for the transformation but please hurry up.”
“Yes yes of course!” Mildred said still smiling. “Come dear first we’ll wipe of your makeup then do your hair!”
Mildred did an excited dance and giggle at that. ‘Must be a fan’ Mercedes thought.
Mercedes was not a fan of her face without makeup bet hey, she’ll get some more later. With that done she was led to the stylists chair. Mildred, surprisingly, started braiding Mercedes hair.
“You have lovely hair dear” Mildred said, smiling. “You obviously have never dyed it or anything have you?”
“No I haven’t, it’s naturally straight too” Mercedes replied smiling widely. She loved when people complimented her hair.
“Oh we’ll soon take care of that” Mildred said still smiling. ‘Oh god they’re going to curl my hair aren’t they’ Mercedes thought. ‘Well I can always wash it out.’
“Right then now for the hard part” Mildred said with a warm grin as she finished the plait. “I’ve been so looking forward to this, transforming you of all people into someone smart and conservative.”
“What?” Mercedes asked, looking at Mildred in the mirror. Her face turning to shock as Mildred picked up her scissors.
The scissors dove into the plait as near the base as possible, cutting though the thick hair with considerable effort. Schnick, schnick, schnick. As soon as the plait was off Mildred tied another band around the severed end. “You can keep this after we’re done!” She said smiling widely.
Mercedes was in complete shock, her hair hung around her chin in a rough bob whereas before it was too her knees. She had completely frozen and couldn’t move a muscle, despite the fact she desperately wanted to run.
Mildred came at Mercedes again with the scissors, gradually exposing her eyes as more and more locks fell to the floor. She then cut a rough fringe over Mercedes forehead. Soon all her hair was a uniform 3 inches all around and her ears were more exposed than they’d ever been in her life. The seemed to stick out at right angles.
A tray was brought around and minuscule rollers were wrapped around the small amount of hair that was left on Mercedes hair. “What are you doing?” She said very quietly, her previously loud demeanour seeming to have left her with her long locks.
“It was all in the contract dear, just sit tight as I continue” Mildred replied, covering the top part of Mercedes head with the rollers, stopping at her occipital bone at the back. That was when she picked up the clippers. Mercedes jumped as they were turned on, trying to leave the seat before she was roughly pushed back down. “Don’t worry miss Greene, they don’t hurt.”
Mildred pushed the clippers up the back of Mercedes nape, stopping at the rollers perched at the top. She then continued round the back creating a straight line on her nape. Then she picked up a small round brush and started spinning in around on Mercedes bare nape, leaving a white foam behind. Then came a scraping noise as the stubble was scraped away with a straight razor.
No soon as that uncomfortable experience was over cane another as a thick towel was wrapped underneath Mercedes hair. a foul smelling liquid was soon after applied to the rollers, saturating each with a generous amount. Mercedes was then led to the hair dying helmet, Mercedes only complying through the continued shock and weak state she was in, small tears forming in her eyes.
The helmet was hot, hotter than anything her poor scalp had felt, but she sat still sobbing quietly. A while after she was led back to the chair. Mildred starting unrolling the rollers, leaving behind hair in the barrel shape of the rollers, she then with a 4 pronged comb started shaping and moving the hair into a spherical shape and then went at Mercedes fringe. Grabbing a spray bottle labelled lacquer Mildred went to work, pulling Mercedes fringe Back up her head in a single swoop and liberally applying the lacquer.
Soon she continued with the rest of Mercedes hair, applying a first coating, letting it sit, applying a second, then finally coming in for a third. Mercedes hair reflected the sunlight coming through the window like glass and her curls were rock solid.
“This is the best makeunder I’ve done in ages!” Mildred said excitedly, looking at Mercedes shocked face. “Oh we definitely need to change your clothes, they don’t suit you anymore!”
“I’ve made you look so plain!” She continued. “Before you were a ten but now you’re lucky if someone calls you a 3!”
“Come come, we’ll go to wardrobe, they have some lovely knee length skirts and blouses there.” Mildred said, grabbing Mercedes by the arm.
The movie was both a success. It did well in the box office and Mercedes was accredited for her portrayal of the shy unassuming mother who saved a local church. Many more roles opened up for her playing similar portrayals, many projects that would take years to finish.
Mercedes has tried multiple times to wash out her curls but they didn’t budge, almost as if they were permanent. And it didn’t help that Mildred had been hired as her personal stylist, making sure that her nape was always shaved, her hair the same length, and once every three months or so more of that foul smelling liquid was put onto the tiny curlers her hair would be wrapped in. Soon followed by three to five coatings of lacquer.