A woman’s relationship with the hair on her head is a complex thing. Or, at least, it is to most of us. Maybe not my friend Vicky, who once shaved hers off as she ‘couldn’t be bothered with it’ when she went travelling, but me… I feel at one with this mane of mine. When it’s distressed so am I. When it’s full of life, me too.
Shallow? Maybe, but it’s my hair and when it’s having a bad day, I’ll cry if I want to. When I think back over my life, every single boyfriend I’ve ever had has told me the first thing they noticed was my hair. When I used to wear it curly I couldn’t even buy a coffee without being told how lovely it was. And my chemistry teacher once told me I needn’t think I could get away with anything just because I looked like I came out of a shampoo ad. (But hey, I did regularly receive 11/10 for my homework.)
When I was growing up my dad nicknamed me Aslan, after the character from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It was a long, wavy fiery blonde back then, leading to friends often telling me I looked like the Cadbury’s Flake girl, lying in the bath with luxe hair flowing in her wake. Random strangers have also told me I look like I come from the Botticelli period or, intriguingly, resemble various versions of the painting of Hamlet’s river-immersed Ophelia. (There’s a lot of water-references going on here, which I’m preferring to focus on rather than the fact that in the latter, the subject matter is a dead girl.)
When people compliment one part of you that much, for it to suddenly lose its lustre doesn’t half have an impact on your self-esteem. And the last year or so, it’s been buggered beyond belief. In an attempt to reclaim its former glory I chopped off the lot in May ‘16. A fresh start, I figured, but in the words of Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Huge!” It was like I’d lost an arm. Worse still, it didn’t even work. Over the following months I watched in hope as the curls started to take shape after every wash, hanging my head in despair as they slowly dropped over the course of the day. To add insult to injury, I suddenly realised how much I expressed myself through flicking my hair; cue a sore neck from my constantly trying to create the same impact with a measly 3 inches. Turns out, size does matter.
But it’s not like I just wanted curls. My hair’s thick, and it still forms into beach-esque waves. Right, I thought, I’ll grow it uber long and channel my style icon, Laura Bailey, a London fashionista famed for two things; her long blonde locks and being papped climbing over a wall after a clandestine night with Richard Gere. Maybe, if I was lucky, I’d grow it long enough to find me a man from a similar mould. One flick and I’d snare him, literally and physically.
Sounded like a firm plan, but I wasn’t counting on my hair suddenly doing an impression of a third world drought. For the last few months, dry hasn’t been the word. I wasn’t sleeping with Richard Gere, but I did find a (much younger) hot American whom I started dating at the beginning of the summer - and it exasperated me when he teased me, understandably, for being high maintenance, as I primped and preened my hair, morning, noon and night. Believe it or not, if I actually ever was going to be in a shampoo ad, I’d love it to be that retro Vidal Sassoon one - 'Wash & Go’. Unfortunately, I think when that advert aired was probably the last time I was actually able to do that.
Until now. After a couple of weeks of looking in the mirror despondently, feeling more 'meh' every time I looked down at my ends, I decided to take action; every night for the last week I’ve drenched my hair in the most intensive conditioner known to man. I know I tend to exaggerate, but it must be, for it's worked. The ends look neat and well cut. It’s thick and soft to touch. And better than that, I’ve finally figured out that leaving it to dry naturally, with only a teensy bit of aftercare from my trusty hot wand (I mean the hair tool, not a reference to any American male, young or old) is all it takes to perfect my light waves. My hair looks pretty again. And I think my personality is becoming more attractive for it.
Despite a few things being a bit up in the air at the moment – both my romantic life and career could do with a similar form of nurturing – I’ve been in a good mood all week. I’m smiling at everyone, I have a teensy spring in my step and my famous hair flick is back in full force. And I think this is just the beginning. Job-wise I’d love to be full on remote; laptop at the beach, bikini on and hippie-style hair flowing in my wake. One down, two to go.
And what of the love life? Well, funnily enough current feedback tells me I’m too much in my own head sometimes....
... But at least I now know that what’s on top of it has the potential to change my mindset.