Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Hair

My hair and I have never had a particularly easy relationship. When I was a toddler my hair was so thin and pale as to be non-existent. No matter how frilly the dresses my mother dressed me in I was repeatedly mistaken for a boy.

I guess Mum despaired of ever being able to do anything with my hair. She kept it short when I was growing up, always parted to one side and sometimes held in place with a single clip. Of course I grew it as soon as I was old enough to have my say in these things, and by the end of my teens it reached right down my back (although I could never quite sit on it, as my mother once could). Always dead straight, as my hair grew it suddenly started to kink. Photos of me at the age of 17 reveal that, for a time at least, I had hair to die for. Honey-blonde and wavy, it was a small source of vanity.

I left my hair long well beyond the point at which I should have surrendered myself to the mercy of a good hairdresser. Ten years passed without a single trip to a salon. I finished university, got married and started my first job. After a while it became impossible to even find someone who would contemplate the big cut. Not even the English-speaking hairdresser my husband and I found on a trip to Paris would consider allowing me to chop off my locks. She did take off a few inches, but that was all I was allowed.

A few more years passed, and the appeal of long hair was steadily giving way to a frustration with the twenty minutes it took every morning to tease out the knots. Even worse, it didn't feel terribly professional to still be wearing my hair the same way I did back in high school! After a long hunt I finally found a young male hairdresser willing to do the deed. I told him that I didn't really know what I wanted, but that I knew I wanted it cut off. Off it came, and it was only afterwards that it occurred to me that I may have been able to sell it.

I was thrilled with the results, but I had no idea how to replicate the look at home. I've never been any good at styling, so any cut has to be very much 'wash and go', with a quick going over with a brush and hair dryer. Over the years I stuck to a fairly basic jaw-length bob, either middle or side-parted. I went through a phase of blonde highlights, until I realised I was spending huge amounts of money to colour my hair only a shade or lighter than its own natural hue. I went copper once or twice but that was about the extent of my daring. I've flirted from time to time with ideas of going pink, or perhaps getting dreadlocks, but I don't think either option is really me.

This year a dissatisfaction with my usual salon, laziness and the practical realities of multisports training have seen my hair grow back to just below shoulder length. To my surprise I really like it. Sure, it's still thinner than you'd expect, and it gets frizzy because I don't treat it that well, but it feels more feminine and forgiving. Plus it's great just being able to tie it back and forget about it. However it really does need some attention, so I've booked myself an appointment with a local apprentice who was advertising free haircuts at my local gym. I only want a couple of inches taken off, some layers put through, and a little shape around my face. I'm telling myself she can't mess things up that badly. If she does then I will simply have to go back to a jaw-length bob for a while. No great hardship!

Although I have always complained about how hard it is to do anything with my hair, things could have been worse. Now, my sister's childhood Janet Frame afro curls... there's hair that was hard to control!

More hairy scribblers here.

8 comments:

Catherine said...

That sounds a bit like me - my daughters are quite different, always experimenting with their hair - one of them has had periods of going bright blue, which actually looks stunningly good on her.

spacedlaw said...

Strange that you felt you had to cut it to look more professional...

Marcy said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post -- I would think an apprentice should have an easy time of trimming of a couple of inches, eh? My hair motto has always been "it will grow back" -- sometimes with a hat, sometimes not. LOL when I read your profile -- pretending to be a public servant cracked me up!!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hope I manage to look professional with my long hair...
Hope you enjoy your new style.

gautami tripathy said...

Well I do look like the teacher I am with a plait down my back. As a matter of fact I never gave it a thought what others think of me!

Rob Kistner said...

How we feel about our appearance affects how we carry ourselves.

boliyou said...

Good post. I know I get different feedback from different people about how they prefer my hair. My kids like it long, my friends like it short. I finally just started wearing it the way that pleased me at the moment.

Patois said...

I had long hair until several years ago, and I came across many people who would chide me on the length, telling me I should cut it since I was management, etc. I ultimately have cut my hair -- and grown it back -- a couple of times. I used to say I'd have it long until Locks of Love would no longer accept my gray hair.