Quito, Ecuador

  • Date
  • 26 September 2001

Stopped in a small shop for a haircut this morning. Just watching the scene, I noticed that every woman present, about 12 – those women cutting and styling and those receiving the grooming – had artificially colored hair. A few heads were red, some attempted blonde and others simply darkened their natural brown tendrils. Here, coloring looks to be a part of life for women – at least those with enough money to frequent the “beautiful parlor,” as my mother terms hair salons. Additionally, 10 out of the 12 had board-straight hair, which looked to be blown out using a large round brush and hair dryer versus naturally straight hair. Just as blow-outs were a daily, weekly, or, sometimes, special occasion ritual for countless women in New York City before my departure at the end of 1998, this procedure appears to be the status quo for Quito’s upper crust in 2001. Nor is short hair the norm. All of the women had hair no shorter than shoulder length and a handful had hair falling almost to their bottoms. Beyond hair – not one of the women was thin or overweight. None. This small sampling of local women appeared healthy and average in size – and, astonishingly well-turned-out given the inexpensive, low-quality items on display in most shop windows nearby.