Hair, eh? You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it. I’ve had long hair forever. Long hair has always felt like a security blanket to me, a curtain to shroud and cloak me… like my own self-grown blonde burka. And whether I like it or not, having long blonde hair has always been a big part of my identity. It is sort of a joke, really, because I am the least stereotypical blonde there is. I think back to my career in finance… I had a boss that used to call me Pit Bull Barbie, because despite being blonde, I’m quite unfuckwithable. In another country and another job many years later, a male colleague/friend and I were sitting in a meeting (with only men, except for me), and I asked what I knew to be an intelligent and valid question. No one had an answer, and my friend chirped, “Listen, Barbie. Go back to filing your nails, let the men ask the hard questions, ok?” Everyone burst out laughing, even me. It was especially funny that he called me Barbie, because I’m so not, and everyone in the room knew that. Long blonde hair on me always felt like a bait and switch; you might think you know what you’re getting, but what you actually get is something else entirely. A distractionary tactic, you know, like those angler fish that draw small prey close with a fluttering lure in order eat them! It is often an advantage in life to be underestimated, and long blonde hair has definitely provided me with a lot of being underestimated!
Anyway, a few weeks ago my hair decided to have a midlife crisis, and I had it chopped off. Now, if you change your hair a lot, you’re probably thinking… big fat hairy deal, lady, you cut your hair! Who cares?! But after more than forty years of fuss-free long hair which I did very little to (except during the perming years, and we will not speak of those), having a big chop was daunting. What if I looked like a conservative judgemental politician’s wife (which is easy territory to veer into with a bob)? What if I looked really mumsy and boring? Could I still stick it in a ponytail to go to the gym, and to get me through the growing out phase if it looked horrible? Unlike my long hair, I wanted this shorter hairstyle to be a edgy, a LITTLE rock and roll, and not at all Tipper Gore. I then set about doing my research. The joy of being a person who overthinks absolutely everything is that you do extensive time-consuming due diligence on the most ridiculous shit, like haircuts. Remember when Rosie Huntington Whitely recently went from her long perfect goddessy hair to her minxy choppy lob? No? I’ll remind you.
When Rosie went from bombshell to modern, she entrusted her hair to the skilled hands of George Northwood. He’s been cutting Alexa Chung’s hair for years, and does lots of other famous people. Like the eyebrow tattooing scenario we discussed, if you’re doing something semi-permanent, you want to go to the expert, not just anyone… and George is THE bob dude. In fact, he has a bob bar where you choose the specific style of bob you want. There are even wigs of each bob in the salon for you to try! I figured if Rosie, Alexa, and Gwyneth trust him, then surely he wouldn’t make a total dog’s breakfast out of my hair. Since George is always swanning about on location with celebrities he’s hard to get hold of, but he has trained his stylists in his particular style of *effortless (*it requires a LOT of effort) bob. I made an appointment with the head stylist, Roi, and took the plunge. I didn’t want to go shorter gradually. I didn’t want to give him any direction. I didn’t want the responsibility of making any choices from the bob bar. I just asked Roi to do whatever he honestly thought looked best on me, since he’s a well-trained expert. He was stunned that I was so calm having inches and inches cut off of my hair. He decided on a just-above-the-collarbone length in front with the back angled slightly shorter. He asked incredulously, “If I had suggested a short chin-length bob, would you have done THAT?” I would have, but I’m glad he didn’t!
I’m still settling into this haircut. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it this short, or whether I’ll grow it out again. I can tell you that it takes a lot more effort than my wash and go messy long hair. This ‘bendy bob’ business takes at least half an hour, whether it looks like it does or not. I currently use a whole two styling products on my hair, which is two more than I used before. The first one is Pureology Colour Fanatic treatment spray, which claims to have 21 benefits for hair. I like four of them: it detangles my hair, lightly conditions it, provides some heat protection, and adds just a touch of volume. The second product I have to use is Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray. I’m pretty sure I’d have the dreaded Tipper-Gore-bob if this product didn’t give it some guts and texture. I usually have to use curling tongs to get the bendy waves in my hair, so with that pain in the ass factor added to the two styling products, and I am discovering how effortful ‘effortless-looking’ hair is. I cannot believe I am putting photos of myself on the same page as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, but heaven help me, here goes:
What about you? Have you made any drastic hair changes lately? Has your hair had a midlife crisis before?