If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I am slightly obsessed with my hair. Perhaps obsessed is a bit strong. Let’s just say that good hair can make a bad day better, for me. And vice versa. That’s because for much of my life I have disliked and sometimes even hated my hair. For many, many years the days when I actually liked my hair were few and far between.
When one has a very round face, big, round, curly hair is not one’s friend. Big, round, curly hair always made my round face look ginormous. Making me look “all head,” as my Mum used to say. This is my attempt, below at age sixteen, to grow my hair long enough to be able to style it into a sleek, smooth pageboy bob. Ha. I can laugh now, people. But at age sixteen this was no laughing matter to me. The seventies was not a good hair decade for me.
Then again neither was the eighties. Even in my twenties and thirties I despaired of my hair. This is me and my roommate Debbie, below, in 1981. We are both 25 and single and we’re dressed up for a night out at the disco. We have on sky-high heels and too much make-up. It must have been humid that day because I decided to forgo blowdrying my hair and let it go curly. Oh, dear. My rationale was that a totally curly head was preferable to wasting my time blowdrying and straightening only to have my hair turn into a big frizzy mess once it had reacted to the humidity. In retrospect the big curly head was not that attractive either. I was not having a good hair night, my friends. I was “all head,” to quote my mum. Ha.
I’ve written about my hair numerous times on my blog. There are always more hair stories to tell, it seems. Even people who are not as obsessed with hair as I have always been have hair stories to tell.
When I was teaching creative writing to high school students, I used to tell kids that if they couldn’t think of anything else to write about they should “tell a hair story.” This was a piece of wisdom I gleaned from Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones. And it always worked. I wrote a post about that idea years ago. And in the ensuing years, I often wrote a post about hair, about my ongoing hair journeys, my hair battles, and my hair failures and successes.
I remember one post I wrote in 2017 when I was home with Mum, and my brother was very ill. He died a few months later. But at the time we were sick with worry for him, hoping against hope that he would rally, and I was relieved to be writing about something as silly as hair. In fact that post was triggered by the fact that I was having a good hair day. Sometimes my hair takes pity on me and decides to be good when I really need it to be good.
Good hair days have always had an effect on me that far outweighs the effect they should have. I mean, I have been known to rise from my sick bed to keep a long-standing appointment at the hairdressers because good hair has always been a tonic to me, and bad hair will always make me feel worse.
I have also been known to go to work even when I am feeling like death because I didn’t want to waste a good hair day.
Okay. That is a slight exaggeration. But I do remember one day at work when I mentioned that I was not feeling well, and a male colleague suggested that I should have stayed home. To which I replied, mostly in jest, that I was having a good hair day and didn’t want to waste it. I mean I was having a good hair day. But still, I may have over-egged the pudding.
When one battles with one’s hair all one’s life, one knows that good hair days are few and far between and are not to be sneezed at. Pun intended.
Besides, the fact that I was having a good hair day did much to alleviate the pain of being at work, teaching my classes, and then attending a long meeting when I felt terrible. And anyway, every teacher knows that if you feel ill when you get up in the morning, it’s much easier to go to work than to prepare last-minute lessons for a supply teacher. The good hair was just a bonus.
Oddly enough good hair days are more frequent now that I’m older. Partly because I’m not as critical of myself as I used to be. And partly because my hair has changed now that I am no longer colouring it. As I said in a post last spring, I’m in a good hair place.
All of this is just a preamble to get to the point of my post.
I went to see Carmen yesterday.
You might not know that Carmen is my long-time hairdresser. We’ve been together since 2003. And she always does a fantastic job whether on my colour (when we were doing colour) or on the cut. When I showed up at her place yesterday I was feeling pretty bad. As if I had slid backwards in my Covid journey. And, I kid you not, when I left I felt sooo much better.
Seriously, we’d had a good chat and a couple of laughs, my hair looked fantastic, and physically I felt way better. More energetic. Less defeated by my inability to shake the residual effects of this darned virus. Cheerful, even.
There’s nothing like freshly shorn hair to lift my spirits. Plus Carmen added some lowlights in the front which look great. Perky. Edgy. Dare I say… chill?
I know there are limits to the effects of good hair. I’m not that shallow. I know there are situations when a good haircut will have no effect on my mood or my confidence. I just haven’t encountered one yet.
When I say things like that about hair and feel shallow and a bit silly, I always remember what my mum told me about her grief when her first husband was killed in an accident. She was twenty-three with three children under five. She said she hated all the talking, the solicitous, well-meaning “sorry for your loss” murmurings. And that the one thing she remembered as having a positive effect on her was when her good friend Mary would come and sit by the bed where my mum would be lying down. Mum said Mary didn’t talk much, and eventually she’d get Mum up into a chair and brush her hair, maybe put it in rollers, and then fix it so it looked nice. Mum said it was the only thing that made her feel normal. As if she could go downstairs and face people.
So, I’m not saying that good hair will solve my problems, cure my ills, or make my sadness or grief disappear. But somehow a good hair day always makes me feel better armoured to cope with whatever life has in store.
How about you, my friends? Does the state of your hair have a big effect on you? Or maybe it’s something else that can make you feel better able to face life? Do tell us.