In the late 90s, a generation of women were transformed into raging voluptuous Barbie dolls by chisel-jawed actor Gerard Butler, who as James Herriot in the BBC’s hill vet soap farm drama The Vet, just happened to have a washboard stomach and fabulous, steel-black-nosed expressions. Perhaps because, in the meantime, Hollywood had brought a new kind of curly-haired girl-next-door into its increasingly shallow and superficial. Once that thin blonde dream girl was gone, the tone around this hair-thinning issue had the changing-of-the-guard quality of a changing of the guard at the school disco.
Nearly two decades later, the same angsty desire to know what makes the special-ness of human hair even more unique than a skinny blond wave remains strong.
Truth be told, when I had long brown hair, I thought that either the environment had screwed me up, or, most definitely, I would soon have blond hair. Or maybe both. The hair was too soft, I thought. And therefore not unique. My hair, like the blond hair around it, was the inevitable result of genetic choice – whatever that means.
Ultimately, that wasn’t what drove me to going back to hospital for a trim at 16 to get it cut shorter than I’d ever had it. Rather, my new boyfriend, a man who’d become the love of my life after telling me, “You know what? You’re not so special anymore,” sent me there to feel better. Maybe that was a little sentimental, but my effort to show love through pithy putdowns (convincingly blaming a strong-looking eyebrow for my acquittal in the road rage case) left me with an inability to admit my own mistakes.