I’ve been reading some of the messages posted in Hair Boutique’s Hair Talk message boards, and many of them deal with some people's rude behavior about hair.
One longhaired woman commented that people feel free to comment out loud about her hair. As an example, someone said her hair was too long for her profession.
Well, it’s cold comfort to just say that everyone has their opinion and many of them don’t know to keep their views to themselves. That doesn’t help when you’re steaming inside!
We are all familiar with that curious state called “20/20 hindsight,” when we come up with a great comeback days after the comment was made.
How about preparing yourself ahead of time with some good, well-rehearsed phrases? What I am suggesting is not a rude backlash (after all, that only encourages more rudeness), but something that may be thought-provoking to them, and gives you some satisfaction?
I began doing this years ago after I’d gotten a horrendous haircut. My stylist at the time couldn’t work and talk at the same time, so she got carried away and practically scalped me. I tried everything I could think of to make my hair look longer and fuller, but nothing worked. Sure, I knew it would grow out in a couple of weeks, but it didn’t help me the next day at work. More on this later on.
The Disneyland State of Mind
Some of the people in our midst seem to exist in a perpetual state of Disneyland. They seem to feel that everything and everyone around them is fair game for them to touch and talk about—right in front of that person.
Think about it—at Disneyland, you jump on all the rides, do high-fives with Goofy, pick up every gimcrack in the gift shop, eat with your fingers, and so on. Given enough of that atmosphere, some people don’t seem to be able to separate fantasy and reality.
When I was sporting my own haircut disaster, a guy I worked with couldn’t resist digging me about it. I liked him, but the constant jokes and comments in front of others were really getting on my nerves.
So one day I said, “You know, Doug [name changed here to protect the guilty], I can’t help this haircut—just like you can’t help having that big bald spot in back of your head. But you know I would never tease you about it. So how about doing me the same favor?” There was an immediate cease-fire.
However, there are some comments that just catch you broadside and leave you gasping for air.
Last year I was in my doctor’s office for the yearly physical, and was feeling great because I’d been working out and looked and felt good.
A new nurse weighed me and said (in front of about 5 people), “Wow!! Do you have rocks in your pockets? You sure don’t look like you weigh that much!” I was so stunned I couldn’t say a word. Then she further endeared herself to me in the examining room by asking me when I had my last period, ‘that is, if you still HAVE them’!!
I was in shock--a total stranger just told me she thought that I was not only heavy, but old as well! The best I could do to shake it off was to tell my friends and then laugh about it as they all told me I should call the office and complain!
In the art of snappy comebacks, know your own motives first. Are you just plain hurt and want to lash out and hurt someone else?
Do you want to acknowledge that you just heard someone’s incredibly insensitive comment and make a scathing retort? Or would you like to reply with something that lets the other person know that you heard the remark, and make a somewhat graceful reply—one that may make the other person think?
Here are a few that may work for you (regarding long hair at work), or at least get you thinking of your own:
“If you think my hair is long, you should see the president of the company!”
“You think I should cut my hair? Why—do you need some?”
“Oh, you think that my hair isn’t professional? Would you prefer that I’m not?”
“Well, I think that your comment is unprofessional, but let’s just agree to disagree.”
Conclusion - Your Own Closure
Even though a careless comment may leave you smarting for days, try to remember that comments are generally someone’s opinion only, not necessarily the truth!
Try to consider the source, and let it go. Do what you have to do to get rid of the emotion. After years of trying different methods, here's my favorite:
1. Go to a quiet place.
2. Write down on a piece of paper EXACTLY how you feel at this minute. It doesn't have to make sense, in fact if all you write down is "I HATE you for talking about me as if I weren't even there!" a thousand times, then do it.
3. Once you've written it all down, tear it up in tiny pieces.
4. Flush all the pieces down the toilet!
Works for me.
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- Revised Publication Date: 04/01/11