What Am I, Brooke Shields?: An Interview with MICHELLE SNYDER - Mutha Magazine


Published on September 10th, 2013 | by Michelle Tea


What Am I, Brooke Shields?: An Interview with MICHELLE SNYDER


Michelle Snyder (aka Michelle Fiona) is the owner of the Barrow Salon in San Francisco, a glamorous place with the most fantastical bathroom I have ever washed my hands in. She opened this hairdo wonderland after years cutting and styling in both SF and New York City, and building up a clientele of well-coiffed women including Zooey Deschenel  (yes, Michelle is responsible for her now-iconic bangs), the model Karen Elson (Michelle is also the stylist of Elson’s vaudeville act, Citizen’s Band), Sienna Miller and Zoe Kravitz. She’s gotten high fives and accolades in places like Vogue and Elle and Nylon. It is such a wild thrill to flip through a fashion magazine and see the person who gave you your haircut there on the glossy pages – it’s like, no matter what incorrect decisions I may have compulsively made throughout my life, I got this one.

Michelle recently gave birth to her already fashionable daughter River, a nine-month-old whose head wraps are a hit on Instagram. During my last hair cut, Michelle had so much amazing and hilarious and totally real stuff to say about it all, I made her repeat it here in the virtual pages of Mutha Magazine. – Michelle Tea

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MUTHA: Tell me about your decision to schedule yourself a c-section. Was it simple to come by that decision, or no? And, how did it go?

MICHELLE SNYDER: I went into pre-term labor at 30 weeks. I guess it was a combo of having rude fibroids and being a hairdresser that didn’t change my schedule while pregnant. So when I went into labor, I went to the hospital. Mostly I thought I had a bladder infection, but when the painful contractions started happening at the hospital it was pretty obvious I was in labor. Luckily they were able to stop my contractions and I was told I was on bedrest. I stayed in the hospital for a while and then housebound for two months. River Mae was breech. I was told I could come in in about a month and they could try to turn her. I then decided then that I was having a scheduled c-section. I didn’t want to have her turned, and also I didn’t want to feel labor like that again if I didn’t have to.

The c-section was great! It took 5 minutes to get her out and about 40 to put me back together. It looked like a scene from Dexter on there. Real trippy. Recovery was a challenge physically, but really it’s hard either way, I hear.

MUTHA: Please talk about getting in with the nurses. How did that happen and what did you learn?

MICHELLE SNYDER: Since I was at the hospital so much my last two months of pregnancy, I got to know the nurses! It was awesome. Some became my clients (Oh yeah – the doctor that saw me when I came to hospital with pre-term labor happened to be an old client from New York!). I am real curious about the whole medical field, so I ask alot of questions. This was a heaven. I got to learn everything about c-sections and choch-births, and a lot about breast feeding. It was a refreshing place because no one was preachy or one-sided. I learned so much. And they learned alot about hair!

MUTHA: Can you talk about your postpartum depression?

MICHELLE SNYDER: Um. This was the absolute worst feeling I have ever had. Like i just kept thinking, What am I, Brooke Shields??? It felt like an animal had taken over my body. Like when you know you are being crazy during PMS but can’t stop, times a million My poor partner Malia had the worst of it. It was scary. I would cry and have horrible thoughts. I loved River but didn’t feel connected. I would take her on walks and cry nonstop. I felt ashamed because I hadn’t heard anyone I know with kids talk about these feelings first hand. It was definitely an out-of-control feeling. Also, I was really tripped out on my body. I really was faced with just how vain I am about it, I guess, and that fed the depression. I also am a huge exerciser and I couldn’t do anything because of the c for like seven weeks. And nothing felt the same. I started feeling better when River was 6.5 months.

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MUTHA: What will the baby call your partner, Malia?

MICHELLE SNYDER: We had lots of talks when I was pregnant with River. We talked together and we talked to a lot of our queer family friends. We opted with Malia being mom and I’m mama or mommie.

MUTHA: Can you talk about actually getting pregnant? How did you and Malia figure the whole thing out?

MICHELLE SNYDER: We had a known donor. He would do his thing at his house, ride his motorcycle over drop off the goods in syringes we got free at Walgreens, and then Malia would put the syringe in me. I would lay in bed for 20-30 minutes. We tried four times. I thought I was infertile – I would take early pregnancy tests every time and cry when I got my period. I know four months is a short time in the big picture and I am very lucky, but when you’re in it it feels like a century. It worked the fifth time, after my friend who is a nurse told us about “the pool” just under the cervix. We always thought we had to shoot the goods so high when actually you shoot pretty low!

MUTHA: Did you enjoy being pregnant? What did you like about it, what did you hate about it?

MICHELLE SNYDER: I loved, loved, loved dressing! I didn’t wear one piece of “maternity” clothing. I had a lot of fun with dresses. I loved feeling the baby all the time. It was like hanging out with a pal all the time. I hated the unknown. I hated thinking about pooping during birth, before deciding on c-section. Oh, and I hated all the blood tests.

MUTHA: You told me that now, at 8 months, River has a personality. What is she like?

MICHELLE SNYDER: It’s so weird. All of a sudden, these tiny little mouses become babies! She is real stoic. Has a great laugh. And is pretty chill. I didn’t realize we had such a chill baby till a bunch of mom people kept telling us. I feel lucky.

MUTHA: What was bed rest like?

MICHELLE SNYDER: Hell. It hurt. I became obsessed with food and it was just really the worst ever. I cheated after 37 weeks and made Malia take me to Target because I knew they had those wheelchair things I could drive around in. The thing that kept me going was feeling tiny River Mae in my belly.

MUTHA: You love fashion and have great stye. How has it been dressing River?

MICHELLE SNYDER: Thanks! Actually, in the beginning I was surprised. I always thought I was gonna dress my baby up in dresses and all that stuff, but really for the first three months it was all about easiness for all the diaper changes. Now it’s a little different! I can have more fun dressing her. It’s funny teaching Malia that tights aren’t pants. It’s cute. I can’t wait to see how River dresses herself.

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About the Author

Michelle Tea, Founder of Mutha Magazine, is the author of a novel, four memoirs, including How to Grow Up, a collection of poetry and a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy beginning with A Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, published by McSweeney’s. She is founder of RADAR Productions, a literary non-profit that runs the international Sister Spit performance tours, among other things.

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