Growing up, my hair was the quintessential bowl cut. It was short, fine, and made me look like every other boy and girl my age at the time.
My mum used a vinegar rinse to make my bowl extra squeaky, blonde, and shiny, and would lovingly dry my ends around a curling brush so it all framed my face like some kind of puckering, bee-stung helmet.
I hated it.
It wasn’t simply the tendency that others had to think I was a boy —it was the fact that even boys looked more glamourous than I did. I found myself yearning to look as pretty as Atrayu from Neverending Story — even Bastian. You know, the little boys with the Jhirmack bounce back beautiful hair who got to fly a luck dragon and save Fantasia.
“But Kat, you look like an ANGEL.” My mum would gush.
I would stand there frustrated, wondering why she couldn’t seem to see what I was seeing. Not wanting to upset her I would scrunch up my 6 year old face and whisper through missing teeth: “But Mummy I want loooooooooong hair.”
“Oh no honey, your hair is much too fine. We’re keeping it short.”
The way she said it had such an air of finality to it. I remember feeling so frustrated, especially because I knew that my mom didn’t mean anything by it. She had a concerned and loving look in her eyes as she gently tucked strays into place.
Her own lovely, blonde shoulder-length hair always seemed perfect in my eyes. I also yearned for my sister’s long, whipped-chocolate strands — I used to climb under her like she was some kind of bridge, pulling her head to one side so I could drape her hair over my head and ‘try on’ her length and colour. Of course I also used to drape towels over my head to pretend that my hair was long.
Both my mom and my sister used to take extra care trying to encourage my hair to new lengths. My sister would braid teeny little French braids from my wisps. My mom would always look for ways to thicken it up.
To this day my fine hair’s best friend is a bob of varying lengths. My fantasy hair is still a thick and weighted 18” mop of flowing blonde.
When my daughter was born I took a silent oath to never ‘bowl’ her hair no matter how fine her hair, and to never be impatient when it came to brushing tangles or styling.
Vee’s hair grew evenly through a series of well-maintained trims, and suddenly it jumped below her shoulders to what I would have deemed ‘princess’ hair at her age.
I gazed lovingly at her golden head.
And then —
“Mama, I really want to cut my hair.”
“Ok sweetie. Want to go for a trim?”
“No Mummy, I want to cut it short, like Velma’s…you know. From Scooby Doo.”
“You mean Daphne?”
“No. I mean Velma. I love her. She’s not afraid of anything.”
My heart leapt with pride, and simultaneously I was seized by a terror.
“But…you want short hair?”
“Yep. That would look great on me. I would love it. And lots of my friends at school have it short too!”
Her confidence was making me beam, but the 6 year old in me was just shattered.
“But…what about braids and pony tails and buns and…”
“Oh Mummy, come on. It’s just hair. And even shorter you can do a little ponytail.”
“Of course it is baby. Of course it is.”
“I’ll let you think about it Mummy, you might need some time to stop feeling blago-blooga-blago about it.”
“Ok. Thank you baby. I’ll call Jodi to make the appointment.”
Later that night after our bedtime stories, I was enjoying the quiet of a sleep-dusted snuggle before Miss Vee slipped off into her dreams. Her hands sought out my ear lobes as they had since the day she was born, and she pulled herself tight into my hug.
“You know who else has short hair that I love and that is the bestest and that isn’t afraid of anything?”
“Velma, baby. I know.”
“No Mummy… You.”
My breath caught and I kissed her golden head. The bittersweet pinpricks of tears made my face hot.
“You want hair like me, baby?”
“No Mummy. I want hair like Velma’s. But I do love you.”
So, when are you free next, Jodi?