I’m having one of those three-monthly cycles. It must be connected to the moon, or the tides, or a combination of the two, but I woke up this morning, and, after having gone for a long walk and begun a batch of pasta dough, I couldn’t shake that sneaky Chopper feeling.
No, I’m not about to join a gang and get homicidal. But I am feeling compelled to cut my hair.
If I had to describe my relationship with my hair in Facebook terms, the only appropriate box to tick would be ‘it’s complicated’.
Partly enabled my miraculous ability to grow hair at superhuman speed (handy when it comes to the hair on your head, not so much when it comes to the hair on your legs) I’ve dramatically shifted my hairstyle, cut, and colour, so fast that I’ve given myself whiplash. My BA at uni was marked by abrupt changes, at least three times a year, with the associated style reworking. Looking back, I’m amazed I ever got any yooni work done – although, to be fair, there’s no better place to read Weber than under a stylist’s scissors.
For the last while, though, my hair has remained remarkably static. In’08 I decided to grow out my choppy, dark brown Pob. Does anyone else remember the Pob, or Posh Spice Bob, which hit the hairdressing scene around October 07? I was an ‘early adopter’ of this trend – characterised by a super short back with long straight layers around the face – at the behest of my talented but also single-mindedly-determined former hairdresser, and, whilst I loved how sleek the overall look was, I didn’t like the amount of washing and straightening involved. So, after a couple of months of experimenting with a shaggy Pob (as per my current drivers’ licence photo), I decided, in the name of ease and economy, that lengths were the way for me. Unfortunately, this meant the end of my first major hairdressing relationship – and if you thought breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend was hard, wait till you have to break up with a stylist…
All through 08 and 09, I grew and grew. Anyone who has had to grow out a shortish haircut will know that this takes dedication, even with my prodigious hair growing abilities. Lots of bobby pins and product were enlisted, and, as photos of the time show, there’s not a lot of nice things that can be said about how my hair looked until, about the middle of 09, I hit my goal – shoulder grazing hair – and could finally put it up without looking like a shorn sheep.
Yet I remained unsatisfied. The colour – a very dark brown, almost black, that I’d been doing myself at home, had to go. I looked, on a bad day, like Professor Snape’s boobier cousin. I decided it was time to abandon the bottle brunette and go native, with the help of a hairdresser, and, paradoxically, a whole heap of peroxide.
What, though, is native? As any sociologist or anthropologist will tell you, the idea of the ‘Native’ and the ‘Natural’ is a social construction –a bit of a myth in layperson speak. And my natural hair seems to bust all myths we tend to create around people’s natural hair colour. Here’s the first myth my hair busts: The Curtains match the Carpet, or, The Collar matches the Cuffs. My natural hair colour is completely different – I mean, diametrically opposed – to my eyebrows and, er, other hairy parts of my body, and has been since I was a child. Namely, the hair on my head is fair, and the rest of my hair, and my eyes, are dark dark brown. So, myth of matchy-matchy hair and eye colours? Busted.
The second myth that my hair and I bust is that Your Hair is Always the Same Colour, one Day/Month/Year to the next. Much like Nymphadora Tonks, to make another Harry Potter reference, my hair colour changes, by itself, all the time. In the space of a day, my follicular range goes from light golden blonde to mid brown, and back again – I am not joking – all without any intervention on my part (I’m working on being able to change my hair red when I’m angry, like Tonks, but so far have only succeeded in turning my face an alarming shade of beetroot, more like Uncle Vernon than Tonks. More practice might be needed). The changeability of my natural hair colour is so dramatic that I’ve often had arguments with people who are convinced I’ve done a swiftie with a bottle of peroxide or a dark tint, and it’s taken careful scalp inspections to convince them of my colour’s authenticity. Slightly awkward doing this in cafes. So, again, my hair and I just keep on smashing up those cultural myths about ‘natural’ and ‘native’ tresses.
But back to the story. My new hairdresser decided that going native would be a delicate process. Gradually, over a couple of five hour foiling sessions (there was a LOT of dark dye build up at the ends), I wound up with a soft, integrated blend of blondy-browny streaks, which would better facilitate the growing back in of my ‘natural’ colour (those dastardly social constructions, again) without having to do a radical chop n’ grow.
It’s been almost 18 months since my last artificial modification, and, aside from one trim, I haven’t meddled, attacked, abused or preened my hair in any way. Instead, I’ve been letting it unfurl on its own, and treating it as gently as possible – Lush shampoos, conditioners, and treatments are great for this, if you’re after a recommendation.
By and large, my hair, when left to its own forms of expression, has been good to me. There’s been less washing, less bad hair days, and, indeed, with the help of Tony and Guy Dry Shampoo, more great hair days.
And my hair feels amazing. I’ve always had soft-to-touch fine hair, so much so that at first year parties people would line up to stroke my hair (although maybe that was something to do with that scary-looking punch they were all drinking? Quite possibly…) but since letting nature take its course it’s cashmere soft.
So, why did I wake up this morning with the overwhelming urge to run up to the shops, find the nearest hairdresser, and beg him or her to chop my beautiful hair all off and perform a radical Jackson Pollock dye job? Perhaps we all have a little bit of Chopper – a little homicidal maniac, with tats and a scary moe - inside of us.