The Life & Death of Barbie

The other week I told my Mum that she was starting to look like Cruella de Vil. Her response? "Better that than Barbie."

At the time I laughed, flicked my long blonde hair and walked away. After all, this is the relationship I have with Mother Dearest: she tells me the things she doesn’t like or wishes I would do differently, such as give more men a chance and dress like Kate Middleton, while I remind her I’m selective and that our Duchess is a frump. She nags, I ignore. It’s an art form. We’ve perfected it. (And I know she loves me really.)

But what if she finally got something right? With my next hair appointment imminent I’ve been looking forward to refreshing my post-holiday, sun-damaged highlights, but had I been pondering a cut? Hell no. After a disastrous chop 18 months ago, I’ve been clinging to my locks the way my parentals wish I would cling to a man. (It’s a long-running family joke that they want me married off. Can’t think why.) Anyway, it’s now back to where it was pre its untimely obliteration, and I’ve been protecting it with my life.

The problem is that Mother Dearest’s comment has me wondering if I’ve started to morph into the modern-day equivalent of a Stepford wife; looking exactly like everybody else. For someone who has always prided herself on her individuality, this is a problem. Me, I typically like to shop in places where most people don’t, I’m not impressed by guys who suggest dates at The Ned (sorry Sid) and I have a loo decorated with erotic literature. When it comes to my looks I’ve always been told I’m not generic, that I have ‘something different’ about me. I like all this, it's good to be different. To date, I’ve honestly been likened more to Botticelli's Venus or those tiny Victorian dolls with ringlets. (You know, the ones with the glass eyes that look kinda evil?) But an identikit Barbie? Not really my style.

In a quest to reclaim my originality I’m sat here on a Sunday afternoon, poring over magazines and trying to choose a new do. Should I chop it into a cool lob, like Sienna Guillory in Luther? (Someone I have even been likened to a few times, and the look I was actually going for last year before the stylist got carried away.) Or should I plump for short, shaggy curls like the model Mica Arganaraz? Over the last few days I’ve been unexpectedly excited about this decision to revert to the scissors, so why, amidst the pictorial inspiration, am I suddenly starting to feel like this could be the start of a downward spiral? And I’m not talking about what happens to my hair when I leave it to dry naturally...

If I’m honest, as much as I think I want to do this today, I’m not that sure about tomorrow. I know me, and when I decide something on impulse it tends to spell disaster. And disaster (read drama) is so far from what I’m looking for right now. After a tricky couple of years, in 2018 I’m literally the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I can’t even explain it, I just feel really content. I know it’s largely down to the fact that I’ve think I’ve found my calling, for I’m loving the psychology MSc and just know I’ve made the right choice.

Case in point: I’ve always been fairly silent in academic situations, preferring to quietly take things on board and leave others to the classroom discussions. This time around, however, you often can’t shut me up. I’m so into it, and subsequently have so much to say. Thing is, I’m pretty sure I’m the only MSc student to ever debate the finer points of genetic differences while sat with a red ribbon in her hair. You know, just like Barbie would do.

Do I need a more serious look to reflect my switch from the arts to the sciences? Maybe. But who says I can’t be the Elle Woods of psychology; my dizzy blonde persona luring people into a false sense of security before I blow them away with my keen intellect and quick wit? If I cut my hair and don’t like it then I’ll have to kiss goodbye to this newly discovered, super confident me. Again, I know me - I’ll retreat into a shell and become somewhat mute. And what did Mother Dearest have to say upon hearing this? “I think some people might prefer you like that. Particularly one or two ex-boyfriends.” Ah, family love at its finest.

Mother being mean to me aside (I promise she’s really very sweet - this banter is what we do) I’m certainly feeling that I’m scared to rock the boat. With my life plan sorted, everything seems to be falling into place. Right now I’m pretty in demand in the day job, to the point where I had to turn down two contracts last week. My flat - thanks to my addiction to chalk paint - is looking more fabulous than ever and is the epitome of home sweet home. I’m about to treat myself to a hot new wardrobe for my impending trip to New York, and today I found out that one of my favourite Americans is now flying from Chicago to meet me there. See? Life is good. I guess I'm just not ready to tempt fate. 

Hmm, so even though I'm 36, I will now have to face Mother’s wrath when I give her the news: her daughter will not yet be morphing into the aforementioned Kate Middleton. How do I approach this? Well, I’m thinking that it might help to point out that cutting my hair could certainly be detrimental when it comes to attracting a prince of my own. For example, every girlfriend is all for this chop, while the reaction of my male friends has been distinctly lukewarm. It was the same last time, when the cull took place; every guy I know failed to hide his true response to this impromptu makeover. When it started to grow back, one even told me, “Thank fuck.” 

But if she needs more proof that gentlemen prefer (long-haired) blondes, then I think I found it this week at uni, when a cocky fellow student brazenly walked up to me on campus and invited me out for a drink. His line? “I spotted your long blonde hair, flowing in the wind.” Too cheesy for me to say yes this time, but I think she'll see my point.

Alas, a date would have been fun but, for various reasons, I have no plans to play the dating game right now. Anyway with exams on the horizon, my Barbie is all about hitting the books. But in May school breaks up for a long hot few months, so maybe a summer romance will fare better? This doll, for one, would rather not cut out that chance.

 

Fickle, thy name is woman