So I’ve been hearing a lot of feedback about my hair lately. As is usually the case when dealing with opinions, this feedback falls into one of three categories: negative, positive, and neutral. The only downside when dealing with hair is that the negative feedback tends to be a lot more descriptive and specific than the positive or neutral; people who like your hair typically choose comments such as “I like your hair” and leave it at that. Folks in the neutral camp might go with “your hair looks ok” or something along those lines. But the negative group — rather than simply state “I don’t like your hair” or “your hair is bad” — feel the need to describe every single thing they dislike about it (“I hate the way you part your hair” “I can’t believe you’re growing it out, it looks awful” “it’s so gross and wispy looking” “you look Amish” etc.), then repeat their complaints in as many different ways and as often as possible. It would be nice if this worked both ways, and that if someone really liked your hair, instead of limiting themselves to the one-time “I dig your hair” they’d yell “OH MY GOD, YOUR HAIR IS SO AWESOME! I love the way it sticks up in the back and I wish I could follow you around and stare at it all day, I love it so” every single time they saw you. But they can’t, because A) that’s creepy and B) I doubt that anyone likes someone’s haircut enough to actually feel those emotions about hair…and really one hair compliment per person is plenty.
Now I can’t speak for all of you, but one thing that’s true of myself (that a lot of people are forgetting) is this: I have always had bad hair. It’s true. Love or hate me, I’ve never really had that magical coiffing ability that models and superstars (as well as my brother and father) seem to have been born possessing. Don’t believe me? Here’s a brief photo history of Dustin’s Dos through the ages.
1990s: At some point just before and during middle school, the bowl cut was literally the only haircut a young boy could get. If you asked for anything else from your neighborhood barber or SuperCuts attendant, they’d simply smile and nod…and then give you a bowl cut anyway. Mercifully, I don’t have any pictures from this era on my computer, but you all know the look of which I speak.
Early 2000s: By the grace of God, the bowl cut went out of style for boys (sadly it still remains wildly popular amongst the more butch in the lesbian community), and since I was already halfway there, I decided to grow my hair out long, borderline hippie style. I’m not saying I disliked this haircut, but let’s just say I got tired of turning down offers for marijuana all the time.
Mid-2000s: Literally the only reason I ever cut my hair down to a more standard level was because I got tired of cold, college winter days where I’d wake up and shower in the mornings, then have to walk across campus with wet hair — only to discover that it had literally frozen in place by the time I arrived at class. So I went with a more conventional look.
2005: Ladies and gentlemen, the faux-hawk. What would become (and remains) my default, “go-to” look, this was essentially the same as the preceding style, only with product added. A bit overdone by the time I started wearing it, I liked this look because it had my favorite hair characteristic (hair-acteristic?): it was incredibly low-maintenance.
2006, part 1: The ever-present faux-hawk was still my fall back style, but I got bored with that after a while (I thrive on change, and the same anything for too long tends to annoy me). Thus my first attempt at “the spiky swoop” — a sort of “I just stuck my tongue into a power outlet and this is what happened” look — it was different without being so shocking that it’d keep me from getting a job or let into the country club.
2006, part 2: However, the thrill of slightly out-of-the-box hair trickery had gotten to me, and if a little wackiness was good, then a lot of wackiness would be even better, right? And so the Spiky Swoop begat Wacky Hair Dustin…a mix of every color and notion that had ever caught my eye, it was my mild way of rebelling against my “big kid” job, my office, and everything else that went along with being a productive member of the real world. Years later, Kate Gosselin would steal this look from me and then popularize it amongst women who thought self-confidence was directly related to how spiky your hair is.
2006 (Honorable Mention): I never actually wore my hair like this, but I did have to have it sprayed white for a shoot one time, and I find that amusing.
2007: Even my love for general wackiness would wane eventually, but I still liked the idea of dyeing my hair, so I went with a standard sort of cut with a much darker black than was my natural color. This look was perfect for the almost vampirically-pale bod I was rocking during my last winter before moving to Los Angeles.
2008: The California sunshine quickly sent my hair back to its natural, sandy blonde roots, and I the faux-hawk emerged victorious once again. Slightly more extreme than its first showing, I was also working more bandanas, facial hair (sideburns since I can’t grow real facial hair), and hats into the mix to keep me from getting bored as quickly.
2009: Shaved. My hair literally hadn’t been that short since I was born with it, and — somewhat frustratingly — it grew back much faster than I’d expected, so I toned down the faux-hawk a bit, went with a little more run-of-the-mill, “everyman” style in order to broaden my appeal to casting directors (clearly that worked since I’m now an incredibly successful actor…you guys buy your tickets to Alvin & the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel, yet?).
2010: That brings us to the present. And it’s getting long again…almost entirely of its own accord. Now as you may or may not know, I haven’t cut my hair since I shaved it in May ’09 — but I haven’t been specifically growing it out until recently (however I’ll wait to expound on those reasons until I finish making my current point). I’m not gonna lie to you, there’s a flat-iron involved.
So there you have it, a brief and probably incomplete history of Dustin’s Dos — and did you notice the one thing that every single one of my hairstyles had in common? I’ll tell you. THEY WERE ALL TERRIBLE. Oh sure, maybe some are more passable than others for traditionally “good looking,” but really they all had the look of someone who either lost a lot of bets or was using Stevie Wonder for his hair stylist.
But more important than anything I’ve just shared with you — or am about to share with you — is that I honestly, truthfully, sincerely, truly DO NOT CARE. I know that probably seems impossible coming from someone who’s as admittedly vain as I am, but I swear it’s fact. Why don’t I care? Frankly, I’m not really sure. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s ‘cause I’ve never really relied on my physical looks as my primary means of attracting or associating with people. I wish I could. I wish I was THAT hot, that whenever I walked into a room, everyone’s head would turn and they’d all exclaim “holy crap, that guy is HOT — everything about him makes me hate myself for not being that attractive” (either aloud or to themselves). But I’m not that guy, I never will be. I’m never going to be the lead in a Twilight-style fad movie or a Mission Impossible sequel (coming in 2027, Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible 12: Emission Impossible — The Ex-Lax Years”), and I’m fine with that. I’m aware of what I look like, I know what my strengths and limitations are — and even with my seemingly-endless chain of disastrous hairdos, I’ve still managed to date women, get work, make friends, find successes, and generally accomplish the things that I’ve set out to do.
As far as I’m concerned, there are only two people who should have any real say in what your hair looks like: you and your wife/girlfriend. You should obviously be into whatever look you’re going for (blind trend-following is everyone’s turn off), and your significant other is the one person who gets half a vote because they have to be seen in public with you and remain physically attracted to you in general in order for the relationship to stay healthy. Anyone else whose council you take under advisement is entirely up to you, and I rarely (if ever) ask people what they think of my hair. Almost all of the feedback I get (be it positive, negative, or neutral) is entirely unsolicited. If you don’t like how I look, you don’t have to look, plain and simple. Also, as an aside, I’d like to point out that with only a handful of exceptions, every single person who’s said they dislike my current ‘do has either been unattractive (to me), or not someone whose opinion I really care about overall, so why get worked up about what they think? If I’m pitching you the idea of me getting a face tattoo or something that extreme, THEN you have my full permission to do whatever it takes to stop me, and if you can’t, then you can bring it up and mock me for that decision as loudly and as often as you like. But this is just hair.
You’re probably saying “but Dustin, if you claim to care so little, why write an entire blog about it?” And the answer to that is simple: it’s not the critique of my hair that bothers me, it’s that people tell me as if A) I’m unaware of what I look like and/or B) hearing their opinion repeatedly is going to change mine.
With that in mind, here’s the thought process behind what is happening on top of my head these days:
+I am poor. Haircuts cost money. Good haircuts cost even more money, and I’d rather spend mine on bills or booze.
+I have an audition at the end of January that is looking for someone with a longer, shaggier hairdo than mine.
+You can immediately cut hair that is too long; it’s much harder to rapidly grow hair that is too short (and extensions aren’t really an effective look on guys with crew cuts).
+I don’t dislike my hair as is, and while I’m not in love with it, it’s a change from what I was doing, and I enjoy that.
+After three California winters, I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m experiencing cold and snow again, and therefore am wearing knit caps a lot more often. Everyone’s hair looks the same under a knit cap.
+Terrible hair is awesome! Who wants to look back at pictures of themselves with their grandkids and have them go “Wow, grandpa! Your hair looks exactly the same as it did 30 years ago — you have the same generic cut that I do! Neato!” No way. You want them to be able to flip to a page from your college yearbook and exclaim “Holy crap! That was YOU?! You look freaking ridiculous!” just like we did with our folks in pictures from the ‘70s.
+I am now officially growing my hair long (partly) out of spite for the people who dislike it long. I don’t know why it brings me amusement to do this, but it does.
+If my hair is the most interesting thing you can find to discuss at any given time (especially when I’m not even around), then it’s time to seriously reevaluate what you have going on in your life…maybe start watching more TV or read more often or something.
So where do we go (grow?) from here? I don’t really know. In a week’s time, I could get a job that requires me to get a crew cut, or I could just get bored with it and shave it all off myself. Or maybe it’ll be another six months and six inches before I change things up. Maybe I’ll never ever cut my hair again as long as I live, maybe I’ll go bald at age 27. Who knows? What I can tell you is that regardless of all else, the man beneath the hair on my head will remain unchanged, and whatever I do will be for reasons of my own choosing, not because I want to please the masses. But don’t misunderstand me, I WANT your feedback — negative, positive, neutral — I want to know it all (even the really bad, non-hair-related stuff said behind my back, but that’s a post for another time). I enjoy hearing your opinions of what I do and who I am. That’s how friendships, relationships, acquaintanceships, and business-partnerships all work. I just don’t want you to expect me to follow your opinion/advice simply because you gave it. A GPS can suggest directions, but ultimately you’re the one in the driver’s seat and if there’s a certain route you want to take, that’s your prerogative. In the long run maybe the GPS knew best (it usually does), maybe it didn’t; but as long as YOU are pleased with the twists and turns you’ve taken to get where you are, that’s all that matters.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my haircut.
UPDATE 3/22/10 — Had to get my hair cut to shoot a commercial, I look like this now: