Periods & Lice & Crystal Gayle, OH MY!
This story is not for the faint of heart or easily woozy.
The week started off a little rough, to say the least, when the head designer of our company had a mental breakdown, walked out and never came back; leaving me with 20 fittings, a photo shoot in 4 days and the entire department to run. Good times.
Somehow, I got through the week and everything was set for the shoot. The day started out really well, and in fact, we were still on schedule after lunch, which never happens. I took a trip back to the hair station to check on things when James, the makeup artist, walked over with his hand held up. James is the queeniest queen of queen town, so making dramatic gestures wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the look on his face told me he wasn’t joking. He pulls Kathy, the hair stylist, aside and I hear, “It crawled across her forehead.”
Kathy immediately picks up a plain-looking black comb and steps over to the makeup station. She looks in the little girl’s hair for about 5 seconds then she pulls her hand away and asks, “Has your head been itching lately sweety?”
I knew what she meant. I knew by the look on both James & Kathy’s faces things were not good. So why, why god, did I walk over and look? I was standing more than a foot away and it looked like this girl’s scalp was alive. Now, I’m scarred for life.
I never had lice as a kid. In fact, my mother ingrained in me a deep-seated fear of them from a very early age. I never tried on anyone else’s hat. I never played hair-dresser at sleep-overs. I always put my jacket over the seat in the movie theatre. I was told that if I got lice I would have to shave my head. This was the ultimate threat to the 9-year-old me. You see, I was determined to grow my hair out like one of my idols, the incomparable Miss Crystal Gale. (For the record, a chubby, pre-pubescent, frizzy-haired ginger should never try this).
Back to the story… It took all of my energy not to run away from this poor kid screaming. We got her out of the building as quickly as possible, re-worked the schedule so another model could do her shots, ran to the drug store to buy some toxic lice-killer and proceeded to spray each other and anything she might have touched. Kathy told me it was the worst case of lice she had ever seen. Gag.
The next few shots went fine, but then, forty-five minute later, we get another twelve-year-old on set and something seems off. It was just awkward. It seemed like, no matter what we said, she wouldn’t lift her leg more than a couple of inches off the ground. That’s when I got a tap on the shoulder.
Kathy whispers, “Jen, one of the other models just told me there was a little incident in the dressing room. You might want to take a look.”
What now? Have the lice mutated and are now trying on all the costumes? At first, I didn’t see anything. Then I looked down and in the middle of the dressing room was a pair of tiny panties. Disgusting, repulsive, menarche-covered little undies.
I just stood there, dumb-founded. Then I looked down again and it hit me. Not only is this girl having her period for the first time, and obviously doesn’t know what to do, she’s having it all over my costume, on set, while we snap photos of her. Lovely.
I immediately go and find her mother,
I ask, “Hi… Miss Suchandsuch…. how old is your daughter?”
She answers, “12.”
I say, “Okay, well, I think she might have gotten her period and she doesn’t know what to do.”
She says, “Oh, gosh. What are you going to say to her?”
Dumbfounded, yet again, I reply, “Well, actually, I think she’d probably be more comfortable if you, her mother, helped her out with this one.”
Still think a designer’s life is glamorous?
Supervisor has mental breakdown, leaving me to keep the company afloat… check.
Witness a twelve-year-old’s head being eaten alive by the most disgusting case of lice in the history of the world… check.
Forced to have “the-talk-about-giving-your-daughter-the-period-talk” to a perfect stranger… check.
Yup, nothing but glamour.