I Was a Hair-Show Demonstration Model

General view of atmosphere at the International Beauty Show at Jacob Javits Center on April 14, 2013 in New York City. Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images

If you’ve never been to a hair or beauty show, imagine a monster-truck rally, except with more colorful hair extensions per square foot. These shows, which are for professional hairstylists, salon owners, and other people in the beauty industry, generally feature booth after booth of products, as well as experts giving live demonstrations, often via earsplitting PA systems. The whole atmosphere is rather carnivallike, right down to the models wandering around in sparkly body paint. 

This week I attended the International Beauty Show (IBS) in New York at the Javits Center to check out the new hair offerings. While innocently inspecting some hairbrushes at the Denman display, I was accosted by a completely charming British man, asking me if I would be willing to be a demo model and get my hair cut in front of a bunch of people. 

There are many reasons why this was a bad idea: (1) I hate drawing attention to myself, (2) I am trying to grow out my short hair  the last thing I need is a hair cut, and (3) I’m very loyal to my long-time stylist, Misty.

I said: “Okay!” 

I met Leisa Stafford — an attractive redhead with admirable beach waves and one half of a Belfast-based husband-and-wife hairdressing team — who was there on behalf of Denman (a British company) to do hair demonstrations. Her husband, Paul, was already on the raised platform working on a young woman with a short bob whose hair was dyed a pixie-like lavender. 

After I explained to Leisa that I was growing out my hair and stressing that no, an undercut was not an option, I hopped up onto the platform and awaited my fate. She snipped and shaved (yes, clippers were involved) I heard her saying things like: “Great Gatsby,” “structured hairline,” and “flapper.” She explained to a crowd of people huddled around snapping pictures that she was getting rid of the “weight here that is really not flattering.” (If only she could do the same to my ass.)

The end result was a revelation to me. Leisa coaxed my naturally wavy hair, which I usually blow out to a boring smoothness, into modern Lady Edith waves. I received a million compliments that day and tried products — like texturizing sprays — that haven’t touched my head in years. While I wouldn’t recommend committing to a hair change in front of dozens of onlookers unless you are fine with unflattering pictures — like the one above — being circulated on social media, it was an important lesson to me that change, especially when it comes to hair, can be a good thing.