It is unavoidable. Our hair is a sign of how we feel about ourselves, of what we are trying to present to the world. Our hair can make a day or break it. I woke up today, having not trimmed my home-cut pixie, for a couple of weeks, and found that my hair had transformed overnight into a Korean boyband bowlie, it is not helped by the flash of white which runs underneath, while the top remains brown. I looked into the mirror and ran for the scissors. Not the dreaded Bowl Cut. Uh Uh! Hell no! I taught myself to cut hair. I can manage to do my son’s with clippers and scissors, some vague approximation of Cloud in Final Fantasy. His hair is resolutely strange – curly at the front to the point of frizz, whilst being dead straight and sticks up on end everywhere else. His hair is wild and stubborn. It does what it does, and even if you drench it in various Japanese hair care products called things like Gatsby paste, it still does it eventually. It will not lay down flat. His mixed race grandmother has tightly coiled curls, he partly inherited his curls from her, which would be great…except it is no uniform. Poor Boy. So I carefully sweep it back and don’t take too much off the top. He generally smiles when I’m done. Most of the time. It wasn’t covid which stopped us getting haircuts, the boy has never had anyone but me cut it, apart from one awful time in Japan when his father took him out and had him totally balded, monk style and he cried for a while.
I have had everything from number two all over buzz cuts, which suited me when I was younger, rubbing a little peroxide over my shorn head, to undercuts with longish tops that I could spike up (my punk era), to waist length long hair while I was married. I left and cut it off. It got shorter, and shorter the freer I felt.
Looking at the mess that is the Korean Bowlie with a few heavy layers, I reached for the clippers. Put on a number 4 and did the back, flying blind. It was so tempting to put on a number three guard and just take the whole lot off. I have a bald patch on one side where my hair was torn out and never regrew, I hide it under the hair that grows on top, the skin there is baby soft. It won’t ever regrow. Instead I take off a little round the ears, taking the side shorter. There is something so satisfying about cutting hair. It is like removing pieces of yourself that you don’t like. Amputating weight. I get carried away, taking it shorter and shorter. I like these scissors, they are proper hairdressing scissors, they feel nice in your hand and are so sharp I occasionally take a chunk out of a finger or an ear.
I start to feel more like myself, that heavy dread hanging over me starts to lift as I reveal ears and ears. This is what I hate about aging: not feeling like myself. Someone nice said to me today that I needed to start being more “me”. That is all well and good, but I became this me, to stop being the me that everyone hated! I became Mommy Paltry because Junkie Punk guitar playing Paltry, who wrote reams of experimental poetry and hopped from scene to scene, from sofa to sofa, party to party, country to country like some tight jean-clad non hip hippy was deemed socially unacceptable! You guys didn’t like who I was. So I grew my hair long, I put on a dress. I started to exclusively date men, thus dooming myself to a life of complete non enjoyment of sex, to the point of torturing myself. I wore heels and nail polish, lace and pretty things. I threw myself into being a wife and a mother. It didn’t work. I have no idea who I am now. Boy needs me less and less, and though I have my sister-of-my-heart-not-sister-of-my-blood, I am rootless, stranded, exiled and scared. To be frank, I am simply not needed anymore. Not required. I don’t know who I am, and at this point in time, no one much cares that is the case. Disposable. Like my ugly hair.
I found that there is one thing I used to do, that I can’t do sober – color my hair. Coloring hair always involved alcohol. Bottle of gin/box of bleach. I’d wake up groaning, patchy and reaching for forest green, bubblegum pink, ultra violet, purple haze. I know I’d feel better if it was not this awful aging salt and pepper mess. More like me. Less hopeless. Less lost. Can’t do it. My sensible brain says things like “you will burn your scalp with that bleach!” “Hot roots city, baby!” “If you wear brightly colored hair, you will be mistaken for ultra woke.” Yeah, none of it appeals. So here I am, stuck in hair purgatory.
I have been coveting Artic Fox’s Virgin Pink, it looks like it sticks, doesn’t bleed (manic panic has ruined so much bedding, teeshirts and walls for years my tees where the same color round the necks and shoulders as my hair), but it is a little warm. I like bubblegum pink by manic panic, it is cooler, but it doesn’t stick and washes out in two seconds. Don’t even get me started on amethyst ashes! Beautiful color, but if you don’t lighten to the lightest of levels, it won’t stick or show, and even then, never quite fulfills its promises. Hair is curiously the only thing that I like when it is pink. I saw a gorgeous woman with a pink buzz cut a few days back, she so cute that even my elderly self thought “phooaaawar!” Then immediately pulled myself under control and stopped staring. I think. I might have stared. Just for a second. She smiled, so it was all good. I wanted to say “your hair is magnificent,” but that would be creepy, wouldn’t it!
Pink or purple? To bleach or wimp out and use artic fox and get a patchy result on the white and brown natural mix? Answers on a postcard or in the comments below….