Me in the 70s, with my amazing hair 🙂

Hair. Why is hair often so fraught with drama as women get older? Hair is very important to a woman. I know this. When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease over ten years ago, my diagnosis came about because I was losing my hair at the front of my hairline. This was one of the single most horrendous discoveries of my life. It actually lead to a drama-filled breakdown in a bathtub followed by years of anxiety about my hair.

Of course, this was most certainly made much worse by the fact that my hair was considered (by me and many other people) my crowning glory up until that point. I was the child and then the teenager and then the woman that people stopped in the street to compliment my hair. When women of the more jealous variety found out it was all natural their responses were occasionally far from magnanimous. You see, I had inherited my father’s extra thick Italian hair, but somehow got my mother’s blondness with it. It was the colour of the sun and it was glorious.

Of course, all this attention on my hair made me both vain and anxiety-ridden at the same time. From quite young I had a recurring nightmare that a horrid little bald man with a few long, grey wisps of hair on his fleshy pink  head was trying to sprinkle dust on my hair to make it fall out. Because of that I used to wrap my long hair around my arm and sleep with it like another child might sleep with a teddy bear.

Apparently thick hair with the natural colour I had was a bit of a rarity and I was offered several thousand pounds for it when I was living and working in London. I was a barmaid in London living on about £2 an hour. My hair grew at an alarming rate of knots, but I never even entertained the thought of actually considering the offer. Don’t touch the hair, man.

Except for a disastrous dying of red for a stage play when I was 19, I didn’t touch my hair with hair dye until my wedding day and that was with a few highlights. Prior to my hair starting to fall out, just like in the nightmares of my youth, I never had any concept that as you age your hair changes in texture and colour and volume. I thought I would have the head of hair that wig-makers offered thousand of pounds for forever. There really should be a guidebook about all these things.

So why am I musing about hair and is there a point to this story? I’m musing because I don’t love what my hairdresser did with my hair yesterday, and there really isn’t a point to this story, just good old-fashioned musing. Yesterday I paid my hairdresser handsomely for her attempt at dying my hair to its glorious colour of old. (I’m actually always paying hairdressers to do this.) It’s an un-replicable colour though. I’ve been told this by every hairdresser I’ve ever shown a picture of my virgin, younger hair to. They all say wow and then look uncomfortable.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I still have a fine head of hair. And thank the lord (and my Italian genes) that I had so much to start with when it started falling out.

My hair and I have had some grand adventures together: the red dye job that went horribly wrong, the $700 African braids that looked amazing and weighed several kilos, the offer of thousands of pounds from a London wig-maker, the post-India, Sinead buzz cut, and of course, this one on the lead up to my wedding day – this one still makes me laugh.



Filed under Beauty, blogging, Health, Humour, Women/Feminist

6 responses to “Hair

  1. I feel you. My hair, also naturally curly and glorious in my teens, 20s and even into my 30s, started to thin recently. I have wrangled some better life and thickness out of it in the past year, but I just want my long, beautiful hair back…sigh.
    I love my hairdresser though. Every time I ask her to lighten it – because women over 40 should – she shakes her head and refuses. “With your complexion?” she asks, rhetorically. “You are so beautiful with these dark chocolate locks.” And then I forget that it is shorter than I would like, and thinner than I would like and I feel rather lovely.


    • Dawn

      Simonne I have laughed till i cried – re-reading the shed experience. We were hysterical when we left there. @ least we saw the funny side. Loved yr blog darlin’ – keep writing and keep us amused, informed, gripped with anxiety or concern or wondrous ness. We’re all along 4 the ride just wanting more. Xxx


  2. Roddy

    I remember that hair very well. You were probably the single blondest blonde I’ve ever met. Though not a woman, I also can very readily empathise. Remember my hair in the nineties?! It ain’t like that anymore. I haven’t gone grey, I’ve just gone sort of brown. In other words, I just kind of look like everyone else now… which is a bit of an adjustment for someone whose “crowning glory” was always so NOT like anyone else’s. I still self-identify as a ranga (growing up red-headed, that self-identification is drummed into you pretty hard), but when I call myself that I often get looks of puzzlement from people who are looking at my ever so slightly reddish brown hair and didn’t know me in my twenties. It’s also nowhere near as crazy curly as it used to be. I pretty much just look like a normal person now.


    • Ahh, you beat me to it little brother! I was going to commiserate too, Simonne. As someone who never had a great deal of confidence in my looks, my hair was my single vanity. Though it was the bane of my existence for a while in my early teens, when thick, curly chestnut hair with a mind of its own was not ‘in’ and I desperately wanted the perfectly symmetrical ‘flicks’ that the cool girls had, I learnt to love it for its gypsy wildness, and also often had complete strangers ask me if it was natural. They were always surprised to hear it was, convinced it at least had red highlights put through it. I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to put those highlights back in, and it is a long time since anyone asked me if it was natural. And now, even the dark brown is fading, with grey hairs creeping in. I always envied Roddy his gorgeous hair though, and I suspect there might have been times when he would have preferred to have mine, it being rather less ‘NOT like anyone else’s’ than his beautiful auburn curls! Am I right, Roddy?! 😉 And Sandy, I remember your gorgeous locks too! Hugs to everyone!


  3. Oh, the red hair! I’ve just remembered…Hecate, wasn’t it, in Jason and Medea?! Good times!


  4. I love that the three other people I know in this world who also had the most fantabulous, comment-inducing hair have commented on this!
    Sandy your hair was so very stunning, and still was the last time I saw you.
    Rod, YOUR hair in the 90s was seriously the most unusual hair I’d ever seen! I really loved it, and partly because absolutely no-one else had hair like it! Remember the show (not sure which one, maybe Guys and Dolls) where all the guys had to cut their hair off and you didn’t? Ohhh the drama that caused!
    Christina, you have no idea how I coveted your hair! Such a glorious thing your head of curls was!! And yes, Hecate! I was MADE to dye my hair so it would look like yours, which is impossible of course. Sigh!
    Dawn, I pretty much linked to that old post for your amusement! I knew you’d wet your pants reading it. How much did we laugh?!!
    Good times.


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