Getting a haircut

When thinking of a major life move, one always considers all the BIG stuff.  Make sure my visa is in order, have an apartment ready, find out where to do my banking etc etc.  Of course this is necessary, but it’s the little things that make life either bearable or unbearable in the new environment.  When everything is different, even the smallest inconvenience can blow up into something big.  Like getting a damn haircut.

Taiwanese hairstyles take after Japanese fashions.  So the guys are walking around looking like this:

It’s all well and good for them.  They can pull it off and look like rock-stars.  I’m sure all the pretty Taiwanese princesses go goo-goo gaa-gaa over the long-shanks / semi androgynous look, but if I looked like that, I’d have to shoot myself in the balls.

This is not to say that I haven’t seen any sensible haircuts around.  There are, but the problem was, I couldn’t communicate what I wanted.  Which is something like:

Minus the douchy come-hither look.  Simple right?  I figured I could easily mime buzzed on the sides with a little off the top.  Had to be less trouble than the layered, glossy diva hair I’d seen.

Well, it wasn’t.

The first time the hairdresser refused to use a buzzer.  She insisted on using scissors.  Fine, maybe that’s the thing here.  I sat through half an hour and after that, she proudly finished and showed me her work.  My hair was evenly buzzed all over except for the few tufts sticking out the back and sides.  Not wanting to draw out this painful episode, I paid and left.

Went home and shaved my head.

The next time I went to a different place.  I explained what I wanted (or tried to). Even took a picture with me.  When I was satisfied that she understood, I sat down and commenced praying.  Again, no buzzer (I started wondering if they even had buzzers in this country). This one decided to ignore my instructions and proceeded to give me a Taiwan style cut.  So one half of my head had short hair and the other half was longer and nicely layered.  She then combed the longer part over my forehead.  And said it looked good.  I smiled, paid, hid my tears and walked out.

Went home and shaved my head.

The third time, I prepared even more.  Following the example of a friend, I took a picture of the desired haircut, a picture of a buzzer and a crossed out picture of layering.  And I went to a different place.  Everything seemed to be going smoothly.  She buzzed the sides nicely and was scissoring the top when someone came over to talk to her.  A fast smatterring of Mandarin later, she put down the scissors and picked up the buzzer.

Oh no. Please no. Things were going so well.

She then proceeded to use the buzzer to try and even out the fade which resulted in the top getting too short and my head looking square.

Went home and shaved my head.

This pattern continued for a while until I finally got lucky and found someone who managed to give me a wai-guo ren (foreigner) haircut, and I have been going to them ever since.

All this being said, I know this is mostly my fault for not being able to speak the language, but I never thought that something as small as getting a haircut would be such a hassle.  So while my visa, employment and housing situation were all good to go, my haircut conundrum was really pissing me off.

I realized that there are tonnes of little things that one never anticipates when coming to a drastically different place.

Just one more thing to be aware of before coming to Taiwan.

4 Responses to “Getting a haircut”


  1. 1 smilingtoad October 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Oh I am glad you found someone at last. I find communication of haircuts difficult even here in the U.S. where I speak the language. I get a very short cut every 3-4 months and hairdressers hate to oblige- they think I must clearly only desire a trim….gender issues seem to be at the core of the problem. Just because I want it short doesn’t make me debauched, wish I was a man, scary weirdo- just someone that wants to cool off in Florida and happens to think she looks pretty blast sharp with short hair, blast! So, I understand some of the strife. People have cut it how they wanted and I’ve come away feeling horrible and terribly annoyed- there’s something very personal about a haircut, it may be a little thing, but does make a difference. Excellent write, Cheers,

    Autumn Jade

  2. 3 floating25 August 29, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Care to share where/who you eventually found to cut your hair in Taiwan?
    Thank you.


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