Jun 22 2005

HairWatch: Ecuador


Stingray, forced against her will to pose with the super dorky Giant Stevie Ray Vaughan at Town Lake in Austin, 2003. It’s a good thing she’s in Ecuador, because when she sees this, she’s gonna want to kick my ass.

My bosom pal Stingray, the notorious hippie punk jetsetter, has been yukking it up in Ecuador and Peru and, I think, Botswana for a few months now. She files this report from Quito about the unexpected consequences of obtaining a butchie coiffure in Latin America:

Yesterday I went with my friend Ana to get a hair cut, and it was a little more eventful than I’d expected. 

My flaming fag friend Alexis is a hairdresser, and told us we could both come into his salon to get cuts.  So, after a trip to this museum I had been wanting to see, we headed over to the salon.  Full of women wanting bleaching jobs to look like some white Baywatch chick, we were a little frightened. (Needless to say, bleach doesn’t exactly take on black hair, so half the city is running around with orange do’s.) 

Alexis came prancing over to us and sat us in a chair for consultation.  By the way, did I say it’s not normal for women to have short hair here?  And not even fathomable for one woman to want a short punk-style, much less two. As he started our cuts a group began forming outside to see the weird boy-girls do fucked up things to their hair.

Feeling a bit on display, it came time for my turn and the crowd continued to grow. The owner began looking worried and said that it was bad for business and to hurry up and finish.  I almost had to beg my way into getting a trim on my neck.  The answer kept coming as, "We don’t do that for a woman’s cut.“  Even my friend Alexis just didn’t quite understand why I would want my hair that way.  We quickly paid and pushed our way through the mob only to meet the local metro filled with people practically falling over each other to get a look.  Half of the men here do the long, flowing hair thing, but women have absolutely no room to move.

I am tiring a bit from being stared at all day, everyday, all the fucking time.  Not as though that doesn’t happen in the states, only slight differences.  What’s weird to me is that I don’t think I look all that strange. 


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  1. Jim McCulloch

    It’s a funny story. I’d like to say, though (humorless leftist mode on) that the poor women of Ecuador are being screwed by the IMF and the World Bank, as well as patriarachy, and the vast majority of them could no more afford to have their hair colored orange in a salon than they could afford to vacation in Switzerland. If your friend was there, when was it, a couple of months ago, she might have noticed barricades of burning tires–not a fiesta with Andean music, but the public, tired of being screwed by the IMF, overthrowing the government. It might be reasonable to think of the IMF as the financial arm of patriarchy. (Humorless mode off, hopefully. Sorry.)
    Anyway, when I can afford to travel I write about stuff like this too. No criticism intended, just some context.
    Her hair looks fine, but, um, orange–it wasn’t black originally, was it?

  2. Twisty

    I’ll let Stingray speak for herself if she wants to, but as I understand it she was in the thick of the demonstrations to which you allude. Check this out.

  3. jenna

    I grew up in a small town, and had my head shaved for at least part of my adolescence. Crowds never gathered around me like that, but children (and parents) would sometimes point and stare. It was disturbing. Because it’s just hair. It grows back. What’s the big deal?

    Thanks for your comment over at my site, your blog is definitely my new favorite blog! I blame the patriarchy too, and it feels pretty good.

  4. stingray

    As for Twisty, I will indeed be kicking your ass. The photo, which she so lovingly posted, was taken in Austin a couple years pre-Ecuador.

    As for the women of Ecuador and their hair, salons are as prevalent here as Starbucks on any corner in Manhattan. Plenty of home styling also occurs, but on the whole, most people can and do afford to get their hair done in salons.

    I am very familiar with the fact that all Ecuadorians are being screwed by the IMF, but I don’t think your ideas of the economy here are completely accurate. In the last three months here, I’ve documented protests in both Quito and Cuenca and interviewed countless people about the political situation. CNN isn’t calling for a consult, and I’m far from a pundit, but I’ve witnessed a very heated process here that, as you know, did put the president seeking asylem in Brazil. However, the IMF alone is certainly not the only culprit. The reason the people in this country threw out Lucio Gutierréz and numerous others that came before is because they’re tired of every corrupt president sucking the dick of the ‘ol U.S. of A.

    That would include lifting import taxes to benefit the U.S. while devestating domestic social assistance programs, and the IMF bail out of the monetary unit which led to several years of economic devestation. Now the American dollar is used, and in a country that has every resource being sucked out by monopolies and dirty politicions, they now have an IMF loan compounding interest and draining still what capital exists. Politics here are an even dirtier business than dirty politics elsewhere; it’s little more than mobsters robbing the poor.

    The country has made a remarkable ecnomic recovery, but there is still a GREAT deal of progress to be made. More than this, it is imperative that they maintain the democratic state that they now have- the last president was making bold moves seeking a more dictatorial role.

    As for my hair story, at no point in time did I imagine Ecuador as being a “fiesta with Andean music”, but I have been lucky to enjoy moments a little more light-hearted than the reality of more violent times. The original piece was more of a social comentary than of politics, but JM got me worked up.

    Just so you know, I’m a natural blonde and have few similarities to any Baywatch chick.

  5. Jim McCulloch


    Sorry about the crack about tires with folkmusic. I should never make smart remarks unless invited, and unless they are smart.

    Maybe I could reconcile your view of the problem of the Ecuadorian govt sucking the dick of the US of A, and my view of the role of the IMF, by suggesting that the IMF _is_ the dick of the US of A. But I would be breaking the rule I suggested for myself, above.

    Anyway, I agree with you pretty much. Sorry if I gave offense.

    –Jim Mc

  6. stingray

    No offense taken, and I could agree with your analogy. Please excuse my typos, it’s rather difficult in moments to keep my mind in English.

  7. redhead ecuatoriana

    Twisty, thanks for the great blogging! My bf broke up with me bc he is “tired of hearing about the evils of porn and prostitution”. He felt like I was subtly blaming him for his usage of both. Is there any way you can send him your blog in digest form, delivered daily to his email (hopefully with detonation upon retrieval) now that I am no longer around to blame the patriarchy within earshot?

  8. Twisty

    Dang, your boyfriend used porn and hookers? I recommend sending him a dead rat in the mail and never thinking about him ever again.

    Oh, and get an HIV test.

  9. pegi p

    i was encarcerated in quito ecuador for quite some time. i actually had a salon inside the womens prison. i was the 1 st american female in such a predicament. yes i am all too familiar with the staring etc associated with the ecuadorian folk! hahahahaha ! huge long story if anyone wants to write a book or movie of the week. heehee understatement. iand yes i have short punky hair! heehee. i was so intrigued when i pulled this up ansd started reading … hahahahahah .

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