25 Jul 2010

Hestia considers her hair

Warning: Keep away from naked flames (and guns)
I need to make a confession to you.  See that picture of me that pops up on your blog?  You know, the one with the Noel Cowerd arch expression?  Well, it IS me, but it is hugely different from how I actually look:  I am to that picture what flour is to a Victoria Sponge - I am IN it, but have been so hugely transformed by the other ingredients that you'd be hard-pressed to spot the original weevil amongst the fluffery and puffery of cream and jam.

In that pic, not only am I made up to the nines, I have Had My Hair Done.

God, I hate my hair.

I commented on Modesty Brown's blog that I laugh angrily at shampoo adverts.  Truthfully, it's a stab of self-loathing I experience when I see these adverts with the swooshy-haired girls mocking me with their pearl-enhanced shiny manes and goddamned 'styled with hair extensions' trickery.

More than anything in the world - I would love to have had swooshy hair.  I want swooshy hair more than world peace or straight, white teeth.

It's a selfish desire, but frankly, world peace will be easier to achieve.

My hair is coarse and curly.  Perhaps if it was waist-length, I could achieve a kinda pre-raphelite fluffy uniqueness, but being so curly, it is nigh-on impossible to make it look longer than collar length.

Visits to the hairdresser have always been horrific.

Since I first had my locks shorn off at 10 (a late and dreadful case of head-lice....thank you Andrew Stocks) and my dad walked straight past me as I waited for him outside the salon, visits have filled me with dread.

My next styling was in a hip joint in my home town.  I went straight from school (secondary) filled with naive hope that their scissors were magic, and had to endure the humiliation of hearing the staff laughing as I traipsed my new Betty Boop look out into the rain.  I walked home, angry tears stinging my eyes, my uniform soaked through and my Betty Boop styling mercifully ruined.  My furious mum got me an apology, but the cruel juniors had just confirmed what I had already believed - my hair was just shit.

The Purdy, the Farrah Fawcett flicks, the Rachel...they all passed me by as my unruly coarse curls refused to be tamed.

I got it all cut off, hoping for a gamine Audrey Hepburn look.  But I don't have the pixie features to be able to make a short cut look cool.  I just look like someone's granny.

The arrival of straighteners was like a religious experience for me.  The first time I saw that back of the head mirror shot and my hair...swooshed...I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it felt.

I walked home and met my friend's hubby on the way:

'What the FUCK have you done to your hair?' he asked via the rolled down window of his van.

Readers, I SWOOSHED my hair at him.

'I don't care what you think,' I said, poking him viciously in the eye (not really, just inside my head) I LOVE it.'

But as I walked home, my happiness at having a straight and swishing curtain of hair slowly evaporated.

Out of everyone that I bumped into, none of them really liked it.  Oh sure - they said Oh WOW and Oh MY God that is SO different and You Look Totally Different, but no-one said that they loved it as much as me, other than my serious faced little Sonshine.  Yes, bless his little nylon socks - he did love it.

Interestingly enough, he couldn't get his head around the concept of it being straight.  He kept calling me blonde.  For him, blonde hair = straight hair.

Tertarus - for the first time EVER - could run his fingers through it without needing cut free by the fire brigade.  But, as you may have already noticed, there is about as much chance of Tertarus wanting to run his fingers through my hair than there is of, well, me having lovely hair.

I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that although I liked the swooshiness and the straightness, the hours needed to iron it into submission was just too high maintenance for me.  Plus, at the first drop of rain, I transform back into Cinderella, one frizzy, rebellious curl at a time.  Since I live in Scotland, this is and odds-on event.

I then began my flirtation with rollers.

If there's one thing that my hair can do, it's hang onto a curl, and my avatar pic catches THE moment when I realised that I needn't be straight and swooshy, I could be curly and Dita-esque(ish). Sadly, a scant 10 minutes after I snapped myself in the ol' bedroom mirror for my avatar photo, Tartarus thrust a garden fork and a bin bag into my hands and asked me to Do Something in the Garden.  In the rain.

This is when I realised that rain also undid the carefully coiffed curls and established that I just as  quickly frizzed back into Cinderella mode from curls as I did from being straight.

I can't say that I love my hair any more now, but I do accept it for what it is.

When a terrified junior starts to blow dry me, I always tell them not to panic when my barnet frizzes out into a fire hazard, but to plough on manfully (girlfully?) and that the straighteners will make Everything Alright.

Last time I visited Juno, my mother, she showed me her new hairdo.  'I decided to let it dry naturally, the way you do...but when you get older, all the curl drops out of your hair.' she said wistfully.

I perked up.  'So, at 73, there's an outside chance that I might have NATURALLY straight hair?'

Who said that Old Age is to be dreaded?!  Bring it ON!

BTW - a chap called Steve Arnold is looking for pix of bad hair.  Honestly, look here 


  1. Ali -

    I don't thnk there is anyone out there that really likes their hair. Mine has always been a disaster - not straight, not curly (like my sisters) - just ... there!

    And ... I have skills in the minus category when it comes to doing anything with my hair.

    Now it is also thinning (I already had fine hair).

    I think I need to go find a nice glass of Peach Chardonnay!


  2. What I really don't understand is how I used to have beautiful hair. A Brunette swishing mane, which I always used to let dry naturally (we couldn't afford a hairdryer when I was a kid anyway). But now my hair is like somebody knitted it! I still have to let it dry naturally but as it gets drier it gets wider! God knows what I would have done if somebody had not invented hair straightners as they are my saving grace. I either have it straight or do large loose curls with the GHD's.

  3. A great post Ali, I agree with Bonnie, I think most people find their hair a disappointment. I have mostly straight hair that likes to frizz at the first sign of moisture and you should see me after a walk to nursery in the wind!

    I do hope that I have swoosh hair after my appointment on Thursday. I'm going to take a camera and snap it before the elements have their way though.

    Jane x

    PS. Did you escape Blackpool and Top Gear safely?

  4. Dear Ali, you have cheered up my Sunday! Ahh! It's true not many people are happy with their hair. And I'm still laughing at Sonshine's nylon socks...

    I have the opposite problem mine goes flat and straight so I have to blow dry it with lots of product and throw a few Carmen rollers in to get it to do something.

    Have you heard about permanent straightening? My friend had it done and loves it. There are probably cheaper places but this is a excellent salon if you're ever in London. I used to go there all the time but it started to get a bit expensive find myself inexplicably drawn into Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen on my way out.


    Have a great Sunday xx

  5. I had a terrible experience at Vidal Sassoon when I was a student, they gave me an 'anti-head' which was three hairstyles in one; a half moon shape bob at the back, very short on the crown and spiky at the front. My head didn't look like a normal head shape (hence the name.) I cried, and then wore a hat for months.

  6. my hair is all wiry too. It is beaten into submission with straighteners though. Have you tried GHDs?

    I think your hair is pretty!

  7. I hear the Harpo Marx look is coming back into fashion.
    Wonderful writing, as usual.

  8. I agree with above. No one seems to like their hair. I had a teacher with a beautiful red mane of swooshy straight hair, who wished it was dark and curly like her sister's.

    I meanwhile recently found out my hair is naturally wavy. Which came a shock. Unfortunately to make the waves involves not brushing it at all which I find almost impossible, so I have hair that considers being wavy, and considers being straight, but just looks like it needs brushing.

    As always you made me smile and laugh. I really do love your blog.

  9. I have naturally curly hair and want straight, too!

    I feel you, girl.

  10. Bonnie - by now I hope that peach chardonnay has kicked in. I really REALLY want to try a glass *cough, bottle* of that :-)

    LFIYF - Your hair is not knitted - it looks FAB! D'you think that maybe, as we get older, and our skin gets drier because our hormones bugger off...that our hair gets drier too? I do think that mine is drier than when I was younger.

    Modesty B - I did escape Blackpool, only to take myself off to deepest Birmingham where I was sequestered away in a hotel with only 30-odd other equally mad harridans for company. It was great! Will blog a bit about it this week.

    Did you take a pic of your hair? Get it up on twitpic and give us a look!

    Christina - I have heard about permanent straightening but I'd probably need to ferret out a Glasgow hairdresser to do it. I wonder whether it might make my hair drier? Then what would I do with my incredibly curly regrowth?! I must look into it a bit more. And so glad I cheered up your Sunday :-)

    TNMA - Bad hairdressing experiences are REALLY traumatic - especially when you are young. In all seriousness, I think hairdressers need to be taught how to deal with difficult hair in a sensitive way.

    LM - I've seen your hair, it looks lovely. Look at your new avatar, you look GREAT :-) GHD - fab, fab straighteners!

    Legend - Harpo Marx? It's more a kind of Karl Marx look that I work :-)

    Siobhan - maybe we do all want different hair. I'd happily swap with any one of you :-)

    Sarcastic - shall we set up a club...The CHUB club (The Curly haired unhappy bastards club?) We could campaign for free GHDs on the NHS!

  11. I'm all for it, babe. Count me in. Laugh.

  12. I shouldn't complain being lucky to still a full head of thick, dark hair and only have 5 grey ones but.....I so wanted curly hair when I was younger, I used to Medusa my head in skinny plaits or make my mum rag-roll it in a vain attempt to become the gypsy of my dreams and would have envied you your head.......then one day, somewhere in my early 40s a wave crept in....oh joy!!

  13. LOL LOL LOL. Totally and utterly relate. Have been SO broke that visit to hairdresser now four months overdue (that's a lot of hair and root). Sorted the root bit in the privacy of my own bathroom (though MUCH darker than one would have liked) but don't dare cut. Hence have balloon of hair and due to go to London to meet beauty PR tomorrow. I already know she is four stone lighter than me and younger, but doubtless will be well-coiffed and groomed. I meanwhile, have dog hair leggings and shall have to wear some kind of cowl to lose the hair.

  14. Jane - dog hair leggings? I have dog hair legs!

    Have fab time in London - btw - I sent you an e-mail with a contact re Samael - any use to you?

    Ali x

  15. I loved this post.. I have your hair!! Only mine is finer, I think.
    Hats !! Hats are the answer, the only way to keep the frizz at bay and if the ends get wet at least the top and the fringe is straight so you look almost good.
    My husband hates my curls that are when left naturally are reminiscent os Shakira ..or maybe Marc Bolan.
    Unfortunately I do not have the face nor body of said goddess.
    My mother's hair has also gone straighter at 78 :)
    I have however found that tinting it with a semi permanent has tamed it and made it a lot easier to manage.
    Love your hair twin Ruth xx

  16. Ruth - look at your hair in your avatar - it's GORGEOUS! All flicky ends and trendiness.

    I think I could do hats. Yes, I'll work on that as A Look.

    I'd be perfectly happy to look like Shakira or even Marc Bolan. Honestly, I'm more Karl Marx.

    Can't think of a lovelier hair twin though :-)

    Ali xxx

  17. Bwahahahh!!! You are soooo .... well, not objective! ;) Your hair is GORGEOUS and Bonnie is right, no one likes theirs ;)


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