These are my various childhood experiences which contributed into me developing hair fetishism. The names have been changed for identity protection, but otherwise the stories are real. This first part covers my earliest memories before puberty.
As children, we didn’t have a say over our hairstyles. Mum decided our hairstyles for us, and her words were final. Every two months, mum would bring me to Aunty Jenny’s house to have our hair cut. Aunty Jenny was a plump talkative woman, wore big round glasses, and wears her shoulder length hair in tight curls. Aunty Jenny ran her hairdressing business from her home. She converted a side room into a salon; it was fully equipped with an old style barber chair, a steam perm station, and a wash basin. Her living room doubled as the waiting room for her customers. The television would often be left on to entertain customers. Piles of hairstyle magazines were strewn across the coffee table of the living room. Customers would often flick through the hairstyle magazines for inspiration of what style they wanted.
Mum would usually go first to have her medium pixie style trimmed. Aunty Jenny would chat with my mum in the next room, while I waited in the waiting room. There were no toys there for children, and to occupy my time waiting, I flicked thought the hairstyle magazines. I didn’t know it back then, but being exposed to hairstyle magazines at such a formative age would imprint itself on me forever.
I knew it was almost my turn when I hear the sound of hairdryer in the next room. Soon after, Aunty Jenny would emerge and beckoned me to enter. I would sit on the barber chair, get caped and then Aunty Jenny would pump the chair up higher to get into a good position. I usually got the same hairstyle. Tapered sides and back, going from #3 at the top of the taper to #1 at the bottom of the taper. I enjoyed the feel of clippers on the nape and sides, and liked the sharp look of the outcome. The top would be cut in a layered bowl cut style, which was fashionable among boys back then. I like the fresh feel of a fresh haircut, especially the stubbles on the back and sides.
There was one moment when a new hairstyle was fashionable among the boys. A shorter style with hair spiked up with heavy gel. Mum decided to give that new hairstyle a try on me. That day, the clippers went up higher than usual all around my head. Then, when the clipper work was done, Aunty Jenny positioned her scissors closer to the scalp on top of my head than usual.
“I’m going to cut this shorter than usual!” she said, as if I had any choice.
I vividly remember that first big snip, which sent much longer pieces of hair than usual falling down the cape. As she scissored away the top, it was raining hair all around me. I ended up with a very short style, too short to part into my usual side part. The only way to wear this style is to spike it up with gel, which she did. However, I didn’t like that style, and grew it back out and got my usual layered bowl cut style after a few months.
My Sister Kelly
Every now and then, my younger sister Kelly would accompany us to Aunty Jenny’s home salon. Being a girl, she didn’t need to have her hair cut as often as boys did. In her early years, my mum made Kelly wear the same style as every other girl her age; a lip length bob with short bangs above the eyebrows. As soon as her hair grew out to the middle of her neck and the bangs were in her eyes, it was time for a visit to Aunty Jenny, to have it all cut back to the appropriate style for a little girl; the lip length bob with short bangs.
As Kelly grew older, mum allowed her to grow her hair out longer to mid-back length, but she still had to have bangs. Eventually mum stopped bringing her to Aunty Jenny’s salon. Instead, mum trimmed Kelly’s hair herself at home to save money. It was around this time that I started puberty and became more self-aware of the changes to my mind, body and behaviour.
When the time comes for Kelly’s hair trim, mum would bring her to the back yard outside. Mum made her stand on a high stool to make the haircut easier. Whenever Kelly’s bangs reached her eyes, they would be cut back to eyebrow length. The bangs trimming was a monthly affair, while trimming the back length would be about once every half year. The hair would be cut in a one length blunt cut style straight across her back, with thick straight eyebrow level bangs. I would peek out of the window from inside the house, to steal glimpses of the haircut. It was exciting to me to watch, though I didn’t understand why back then.
My Cousin Fiona
My cousin Fiona is the same age as my sister Kelly. Like Kelly, she had long silky straight hair to the middle of her back. However, unlike my sister Kelly who had bangs, Fiona’s hair was all one length with no bangs.
Fiona’s family lived in another city, so I don’t see them that often. Every year during Lunar New Year celebrations, her family would visit us and stay over for a couple of days. This was because our common grandmother lived with us, and it was customary for relatives to visit their elders during Lunar New Year. Over the course of our childhood, this was their annual routine.
One particular such new year visitation however, was more interesting than usual. My mum and aunt (Fiona’s mum) were chatting about Kelly’s hairstyle.
Mum: “I recently just trimmed Kelly’s hair and bangs.”
Aunt: “Really? You cut her hair yourself? I never knew that.”
Mum: “Yes, I do it myself to save some money since it is easy.”
Aunt: “Looks good. You did a good job.”
Aunt: “I have been thinking. I think Fiona should have bangs like Kelly. What do you think?”
Mum: “They are both the same age and same height. I think it would make them look like sisters if they have the same hair style.”
Aunt: “Yes, I think they would look cute looking like twins.”
Fiona: “Mum! No! I don’t want bangs.”
Aunt: “Don’t talk back rudely! Why not? You’ve had the same hairstyle. You should try bangs to look like Kelly.”
Mum: “Listen to your mum. I think it will look cute.”
Aunt: “See? Even aunty agrees. Let’s do it now.”
Mum: “Sure! Fiona, come with me.”
At that moment, Fiona no longer had a choice, but followed sulkily. Her fate had been spontaneously decided by both her mum and my mum on their whim. It was too hot outside, so they decided to do the haircut indoors instead at an open space of the house.
I followed every moment with anticipation building up within like never before! I was there in the living room and had front row seats watching all this went down. My mum had Fiona stand still there while she went off to get scissors and comb. Fiona stood there meekly and wanted to protest but couldn’t. My mum soon returned with the cutting tools. She combed Fiona’s hair thoroughly to detangle and smoothen it. Then, she sectioned the front portion that is to become bangs, and combed it straight down, partially covering Fiona’s face.
It was a sight I will never forget. Because Fiona’s mid-back length hair was all one length with no bangs, the front hair was very long and hung down to her chest. The length to be chopped off was almost a foot long, just hanging helplessly over her face. I have never seen so much front hair to be chopped off into bangs before in my life! I was used to seeing about 1 – 2 cm of my sister’s bangs trimmed off each time. The thought of so much more about to be cut off from Fiona’s bangless hair was truly exciting beyond imagination!
Mum: “Close your eyes and stay still!”
Fiona closed her eyes as instructed. She was extremely nervous at that moment. My mum inserted the scissor blades into the long veil of hair at about eyebrow level.
The scissor blades closed shut, severing the first locks. A very long piece of hair fell down to the floor in front of Fiona’s feet!
Mum continued to chop across the veil, cutting off another long piece of hair. Half of Fiona’s face is now revealed, with the other half still covered by the thick veil.
The scissor blades cut off another lock of hair.
The final long piece was cut off, joining the pile of hair on the floor. Her face is now completely revealed. Where a curtain of long thick hair had been just a few seconds ago, Fiona now sported blunt thick bangs at eyebrow length! The excitement welling up within me was euphoric! I could not believe how different a person can look with just a change in bangs hairstyle.
The initial pass was pretty neat, but mum still nibbled away at the bangs with the scissors to cut them perfectly straight and neat. After she was done, my mum and aunt got both Kelly and Fiona to stand together, and took a photo of them together looking like twin sisters with their bangs hairstyle.
This happened nearly three decades ago at the time of this writing. Yet, I still vividly remember the events of that day. Witnessing and getting excited over such a major bangs chop during early puberty, had an imprinting mental effect. I did not fully realise it at that moment, but in hindsight, this is definitely one of the major triggers in hair fetishism – in particular bangs cutting – hardwired within my tender brain. Of course, no one in that room that day realise what was happening within me, having witnessed Fiona’s bangs getting chopped off against her will. To them, it was innocent and harmless; just two mothers’ desire for their daughters to look like twin sisters. But it had a profound effect on wiring me different from most other “normal” people.
To this day, even as an adult, Fiona still keeps the same hairstyle from that day; mid-back length hair with bangs.