Although many consider standardized units of measurement like the gram, the pound or the inch to be fixed and immutable, the inch can be very subjective, as Zoe Maltby discovered after a recent trip to the salon.
“I asked my hairdresser to cut an inch off, I even held up my fingers to show, like, an inch, and she said yeah, an inch, and then she cut off like three inches,” said Maltby, still running her fingers through her hair, feeling for the length that isn’t there. “Maybe she thought I meant centimeter? No, those are a lot smaller…”
“I was gonna say something, but then a week later it looked fine?” said Maltby. “And she’s a really good hairdresser. I mean, she doesn’t cut my hair the way I want, so I don’t know why I said that. But she is?”
“I went in for a bangs trim, I thought I needed like half an inch off, and then she explained that if I layered I could create more fullness that would frame my face without letting the breakage reach the root?” says another client, Danica Lauden. “I got so confused I just nodded along and when she was done I had a totally different haircut.”
Liz Power, the hairdresser in question, routinely takes a poetic license with the meaning of “just an inch”. After reviewing multiple before-and-after pictures, it seems that Power’s “inch” is not constant, nor does it conform to a pattern. Instead, it seems to be randomly and arbitrarily applied to clients regardless of their wishes.
Dr. Anna Price, a Harvard mathematician, was unable to draw any meaningful conclusions from the data.
“Perhaps this person understands the term inch more colloquially, as in, inching along?” She suggested, adding, “Although, come to think of it, the lady who does my hair does that too —that’s so weird!”
“Yeah, listen, I’m just gonna cut your split ends off,” said Power when reached for comment. “I know you said an inch trim, but you have split ends and you need them cut off, so that’s what I’m gonna do.”
At press time, Price was arguing with a male colleague who said that while the definition of an inch is fixed, “six feet tall” is always up for interpretation.