[Part of the Body Series]
When I was a child, my short hair naturally formed perfect ringlets. With porcelain skin, wide eyes and dark curls, strangers would stop to tell my parents how beautiful I was, and “What amazing hair,” I had, “like a Disney princess!”
As I got older and my hair grew longer, the curls lost their strength and my Barnet became “unruly,” as mother would say. My hair was a mess just like any other kids’, made sticky with sweets and laden with grass and leaves from rolling down hills and climbing trees. At some point my sister cut me a block fringe to hide my head injury. When I was 10, my sister put red “wash in-wash out” colour in my brown hair.
And thus began over a decade of hair abuse…
Colours my hair has been:
Red: every shade of red you can imagine: it suits me, so I always fell back on it, but no longer do bright reds (which it was in my Year 8 school photo, and all the girls thought I was so cool because I was the only girl in class whose parents let them dye their hair and get piercings): older and wiser, I’d only go for auburns and mahoganies.
Blonde via ginger: bleached it thrice and dyed it 6 times in one day: no, I don’t know how it didn’t fall out either. Yellow: the colour and texture of hay, father said. Ice white.
Black: pure black: made my skin seem even whiter. Blueblack: this colour looked best in the sunlight, like shiny navy/indigo. So many shades of purple: all of the purples. Pastel blue.
Pink: was supposed to leave the dye in for 20 minutes but got drunk and passed out and woke up 4 hours later with hair the colour of a pink highlighter pen: was banned from school because it was too distracting to classmates.
Bright green: this is the colour of my hair in my last police mugshot: I like the idea that if I ever go on the run, this is the photo that will be in the newspapers.
Blonde highlights. Blonde/ginger dip dye. Boring brown.
I don’t exactly know what my natural hair colour is but I am brunette
When I was 21, my hair was totally and utterly fucked: falling out and snapping off and generally looking awful. So I cut inches of it off and resolved to stop dyeing my hair and return to my natural colour, whatever that may be. I wanted to start again and look after my hair.
I once had a job selling hair straighteners in Wood Green Shopping City
but I would never, ever use straighteners on my own hair.
I rarely use a hairdryer. Dye damage is bad enough, I can’t add heat damage too
On my 22nd birthday, upon waking I stared at myself in the mirror, trying to see if I’d changed at all. And there it was: my first grey hair, glinting right on my parting. Gutted, I phoned my dad. “It’s finally happened.” He laughed, since he started going grey at 15 and was surprised it hadn’t happened to me sooner.
I’ve had my hair cut professionally twice:
once in the salon where I used to sweep hair off the floor for pennies,
and once by my ex’s sister who is a hairdresser.
All of my other haircuts have been DIY jobs with kitchen scissors
I cut the grey hair out, secretly fearing that 10 would grow back in its place. Over the months, more and more greys started appearing – too many to pull out, enough to be noticeable, enough for anyone taller than me to say “You need to get your roots done,” or “It’s mad because you look about 16 but your hair makes you look 76.” I decided to dye it: brown.
My hair is falling out.
It is noticeably thinner. I can now see my scalp in places where I couldn’t before.
I am surprised that there is anything left on my head.
This hair-loss is supposedly caused by stress and it makes me sad.
I do wonder if it’s actually a side effect of any or all of my psych meds
Now I am stuck once again in this endless cycle of dyeing my hair, but not for fun (as I used to), for self-preservation. Soon I hope to have enough grey hair to totally embrace it, enough that it looks cool rather than careless, but I don’t think I’ll live long enough for that to happen.
I used to have fantastic hair. It was literally my crowning glory.
Now it is one of my worst features.
It isn’t really important.
It’s just hair.