Iowa Writes

HUA OU
Hair Story


I am an otolaryngologist and a scientist. I never doubt that I can handle almost anything related to research and patients. I do surgeries to fix broken noses; I know how to treat people's hearing loss; and I do research on how to prevent hearing damage.  On the other hand, I never imagined that I could be a "personal stylist."  Three years ago, I left China, my home country, for America to pursue a Ph.D. My life has changed since I married my husband, who is also Chinese. Since becoming a student couple, I found out that there is a "hair tradition" among international students here: wives usually cut hair for their husbands. One of the possible reasons is that hair stylists in local salons usually do not do a good job on Asian people's hair. (The majority of the population in Iowa City consists of Caucasians.) Hair texture is very different between white and Asian people.

A good hairstyle can help enhance your personal characteristics. In other words, when I look at someone's hair, I am not only looking at their hairstyle, but also their face, their body, and their clothes. I look at the hairstyle from a holistic perspective. This appearance does not mainly depend on hair. Most hair stylists, at least those in this tiny town, are not capable of enhancing the beauty of Asian people's hair. Thus, Asian people turn to big cities to find those experienced ones. Interestingly, these stylists are mainly from Asian countries. Now I am one of the hair stylists. The problem is that I never have been trained for such work. However, I believe if I can handle difficult experiments, I should have no problem dealing with my husband's hair.

I am an otolaryngologist and a scientist. I never doubt that I can handle almost anything related to research and patients. I do surgeries to fix broken noses; I know how to treat people's hearing loss; and I do research on how to prevent hearing damage.  On the other hand, I never imagined that I could be a "personal stylist."  Three years ago, I left China, my home country, for America to pursue a Ph.D. My life has changed since I married my husband, who is also Chinese. Since becoming a student couple, I found out that there is a "hair tradition" among international students here: wives usually cut hair for their husbands. One of the possible reasons is that hair stylists in local salons usually do not do a good job on Asian people's hair. (The majority of the population in Iowa City consists of Caucasians.) Hair texture is very different between white and Asian people.

A good hairstyle can help enhance your personal characteristics. In other words, when I look at someone's hair, I am not only looking at their hairstyle, but also their face, their body, and their clothes. I look at the hairstyle from a holistic perspective. This appearance does not mainly depend on hair. Most hair stylists, at least those in this tiny town, are not capable of enhancing the beauty of Asian people's hair. Thus, Asian people turn to big cities to find those experienced ones. Interestingly, these stylists are mainly from Asian countries. Now I am one of the hair stylists. The problem is that I never have been trained for such work. However, I believe if I can handle difficult experiments, I should have no problem dealing with my husband's hair.

My husband went to the supermarket to buy a box of tools—one razor, two different kinds of scissors, and two differently-shaped combs. At first it seemed easy to be a professional hair stylist. However, it turned out that I was horrible. There was no style at all. Basically I just shaved my husband's hair following the shape of his head. I made my husband's head look like an egg. But he never complained about my lack of "talent." I remember the first time I cut his hair. He looked at the mirror and said, "Gosh, this is definitely a masterpiece. My head is so round." He was so cute. After that, whenever I cut his hair, he always told me that it was awesome and he liked it a lot. It was sweet of him to encourage me in that way. I never lost my enthusiasm to improve my skills. Now I think that this was probably one of my husband's strategies. He knew if he criticized me, I would have given up. Now I am good at giving him a haircut. I will be my husband's personal hair stylist for the rest of my life because I love this job so much.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


HUA OU

Hua Ou is a University of Iowa graduate student from southwest China. She will soon earn her Ph.D in Hearing Science and is currently at work on her dissertation. She writes, "I have a dream to help hearing-impaired people." This piece originally appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of Voices, a journal of student writing published by The University of Iowa Writing Center.

http://www.uiowa.edu/~writingc/

This page was first displayed
on May 05, 2009

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