I am currently sitting here with tufts of spiky orange hair torn between two (lovers) hair colours (blonde and red) and I’m reminiscing over previous hair disasters and wondering why I never learn my lesson.
The problem is my sister is a hairdresser and facilitates my hair ennui. She warns me each time and is proven right (just like our mother, damn them) but I refuse to learn my lesson; I’m probably going to be like that woman I see on midday that must be in her 60s with multi-coloured hair… in fact I aspire to it.
I was born and raised “strawberry blonde” and winced as hairdressers complimented my beautiful hair, much like I do now to mortified little red-heads I meet as an adult. I longed for the day that I could colour it and throw off the stigma of being a ginger, freckled Irish person.
My first hair disaster happened at approximately age 10 when me and my cousin Linda decided we wanted our hair cut like Madonna in the Papa Don’t Preach Video. We went to a salon in Harmonstown and told them of our desired hair cuts; we were a little nervous at the results but thought ourselves cutting edge. We arrived back to her house and were met by our aunty Maeve who told us we looked like boys. What? No, not at all and if only we had studded biker jackets and black t-shirts to complete the look, everyone would see just how feminine we were. There is an infamous photo that has haunted me of this dark period taken by my Uncle David; It is me with my boy hair and a lilac blouse and my freakishly flexible hand cupped under my chin, highlighting my equally flexible teeth and sporting the popular 1980s redner. The adults would all admire it (the photo, not the redner) as it hung in pride of place while friends nudged each other and mimicked my pose.
The next disaster did not involve cutting but perming. When I was 13/14 perms were huge literally and figuratively. I pictured cascading, corkscrew curls and went to a hairdressers in Marino. It was a complicated and lengthy process involving what looked like rizla papers and blue ink. It looked nice enough, not the hair of my dreams but a wavy bob. The next morning it had fallen out (the perm, not my hair); I went back and they said my hair was too straight and would need layering. I had never heard of layering but it sounded glamorous so I gave the green light and 2 hours later I was a ringer for Vera Duckworth. For reasons that elude me my sister and cousin Jen followed in my footsteps and Irish mammy hair became attainable for teenagers. I purchased an afro comb and thought I was Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction years before it was released.. I’m that on trend.
Growing the bloody thing out was tricky and involved a lot of scrunching with mousse and contradictory straight roots.
When it had almost grown out I got a bob which looked odd as the ends were still crazy frizzy and large in comparison with the sleek roots, it provoked much slagging in school which I bore stoically (cried in the jacks at lunch).
My sister, Fiona started a FAS course in hairdressing when I was 19. I asked her to cut my hair in a moment of madness and specified short at the back and long at the front. She wasn’t listening, too busy tripping over her eclipse jeans and slagging John Lennon probably. (She hadn’t learnt her lesson from the previous Summer in the states with our Macken cousins when en route to a week’s stay in a lake house she stated that she was glad John Lennon died and had to contend with a ball of chewing gum in her hair… there was an emergency stop for peanut butter.) She mistakenly heard me ask for short at the front and long at the back and I inadvertently resurrected the mullet.
The Spice GirlFor my 21st I channeled Ginger Spice with blonde strands at the front and red at the back… (dizzy at the front, quick-tempered at the back). I kept this style going long enough to lose the front bits of my hair.
My 30s have seen a lot of hairdos. I have veered from red to blonde ALOT without heeding any warnings. You see I love having red hair, that’s me, my natural colour, fiery, freckled and feckless but alas it is de-pigmented; I am 100% grey like my lovely, once ginger Dad. So, if it is red, it needs to be dyed every two weeks or grey roots are visible and that won’t do… with blonde I can get away with 4 weeks and wreck Fiona’s head a little less. A few bleach baths later and I am almost at the shade of blonde I want… I’m in mourning for my red hair but I won’t broach the subject of change for at least a year.
I’m not being coy with the lack of selfie illustrations, just not that many photos taken pre 2000s, thankfully; All that messing with giant cameras, black curtains and exploding flashbulbs.