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The other day, I saw a picture of a woman with a great hairstyle.
I had one of those visceral reactions I often get when I shop for clothes or shoes, and see something that I love – an instinctive gut feeling of approval and certainty.
I would ROCK a hairstyle like that! And it would reflect my character so much more accurately than the bland, mumsy, grown-out, daily ‘lack of effort’ that was my current hair.
But did I dare?
It would require a huge leap of faith – of shaved sides and back, of artistic patterns swirled in with clippers. It would be asymmetrical, anti-establishment, edgy… basically everything I’ve never been.
Being Japanese, obviously my hair is black. A deep, unrelenting, crow feather black. It’s also very straight. Straight and black. There’s almost nothing interesting I can do with it, apart from plait it, or put it in bunches, or have it lolling on my shoulders like tired lengths of string.
When I was much younger, I did have it cut very short (Hubby liked it that way), but Japanese hair is extremely unforgiving to an inexperienced stylist. After a horrendous experience where a young hairdresser gave me a haircut that left me looking like an electrocuted sea urchin with a bowl cut, and she had stormed out shouting, “I don’t cut Chinese ‘air!” I decided to let my hair grow out. It seemed safer that way.
I sported a bob for a few years. I went to Chinatown in London specially to get my hair cut by a nice Chinese lady, who was obviously used to the challenging nature of black, East Asian hair. This met with approval from family members because, apparently, I was the spitting image of my grandmother. However, when I look at old photos, I think that a bob, paired with my (then) round face, made me look childlike and simple.
Then, of course, I had children.
No one warned me that having children messed with your hair. I had lusciously thick locks while I was pregnant, but several months after giving birth, I was horrified to find my hair coming out in handfuls every time I washed it. Although some of it grew back in annoying baby-hair wisps on my forehead, I never regained the hair I had BC.
I don’t DO enhancement. I am so incredibly lazy that I hardly wear makeup, and I’m lucky if I remember to brush my hair in the morning before whipping it into a messy bun on top of my head. I just can’t be arsed with hair products, blow-drying, straightening, curling, spraying and primping – it bores me to death. AND I never look better for it anyway.
Just as well really. Once you’ve got kids, the amount of time (and money) you have to spend on yourself is absolutely minimal. There are so many other things that seem more important.
I think I’ve spent a good decade looking an absolute mess – wearing old, ill-fitting clothes, and going to public places with a scary, bare-naked face. However, my children are 12 and 9 now… and I’ve started taking a little more interest in myself.
I’m beginning to understand that denying myself attention, and belittling my importance is not helping anyone at all. My children need to understand that I am an individual with my own skills, personality and desires. It’s vital for their empathetic development that they see me, not just as ‘Mum’, but as a PERSON – a person with history, with talents, with faults, with opinions.
Especially as they grow into adolescence, really SEEING us as people, as well as parents, will help to smooth the bumps and dips in our communication.
Since I started writing this blog, I have a much better idea of who I am. And I LOVE the new sense of stability and confidence it brings.
I already knew that I was going to get this haircut. Why not?
I have a great shaped head (apart from the weird hollow at the top – which my family tease me is deep enough to hold water if I’m out in the rain), and nothing to lose. So what if people think it’s not ‘me’? I can tell them that the hairstyles in the previous 42 years of my life were not ‘me’ – and I should know. My image of myself was just a projection of how I THOUGHT I should look.
Anyway… I’ve gone and done it now. And I love it. A few people have exclaimed, “How BRAVE you are!” – but I didn’t need to be brave.
I just needed to be me. That me-ness needed an outlet, and so here it is. On my head.
My kids were not fazed by my new look. In fact, when my mother-in-law asked them what it was like to have a ‘cool’ mum, my daughter immediately replied, “She was cool before her haircut.”