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The thing is, I always think I want to grow my hair. In my mind it is sleek and swingy. Ordinarily, I maintain this illusion by not looking in mirrors or brushing it. But there’s no escaping the harsh truth of a Zoom screen.
I’m not a hairdresser, but I’ve been to the hairdressers. I’m friends with at least one hairdresser. I’ve watched Hairspray and Hair: the Musical. I’ve watched the trailer for The Big Tease. I kind of wish I hadn’t, but I messed with all of about five minutes of the Zohan. And for a short glorious while in my 20s I had the kind of lifestyle where I could lineup at the Vidal Sassoon training place in Covent Garden for a new haircut each week. So, I mean, I know things. How hard could it be?
I started out thinking about a trim, just to get rid of the split ends and the creeping mumsiness. The scissors could have been sharper, and less covered in school glue, but that actually turned into an advantage, because it is surprisingly quite difficult to grip the scissors in one hand, and a lock of hair in the other, and watch yourself in the mirror and cut straight. I rationalised, and by eliminating the need for straightness and the need for the mirror, managed to get into a bit of a routine. Grab, cut, drop, repeat. Grab, cut, drop, repeat. Why do they call it a lock, I wondered? I thought about that time when I was 12 and I begged my parents for a short haircut and they offered me a perm, but I didn’t fall for that.
I checked my reflection. Brave, but slightly reminiscent of a scalloped bowl. Time for operation layers. If I picked up all the bits of hair I could find still attached to my head, and cut them off up to about my thumb joint then this would be methodical. And fine. Just fine. My theory proved to be patchy at best. I had a break for tea and read three articles about the psychology of self-administered haircuts, two with capitals about Important and Traumatic hair cut tropes, and one which had 10 excellent life hacks for hacking hair. I watched Salma Hayek. I watched Natalie Portman. I wished I had clippers. I did not watch any actual hairdressers cutting actual hair even though Google told me in 0.28 seconds that it could show me 110,000 free examples of exactly these.
Fortified by the creme eggs I’d hidden from myself, I picked up the scissors again. Slower, now, I went around and around my head. Shorter and shorter. Hello neckline. Hello ears. Grab, cut, drop, repeat. Grab, cut, drop, repeat. I put down the scissors and ran my fingers through from scalp to tips, marvelling at how layered everything seemed. Would you like the fringe left as it is, I asked myself, or I could slice into it on a bit of an angle if you like? Fully consulted and consented, I cut myself a generous slice.
The result? On a scale of one to 10, with one being "mum, I am never leaving the house with you ever, EVER again, even if other people are too far away to see what the heck you’ve done to yourself — why, just WHY?", and 10 being "OK that’s passable, but next time maybe consult the experts" I’m generously giving myself a six. It’s not bad, considering. And I’ve been hacking away at it, little by little, every day since, when I’ve been peeking in the mirror to see how my home-pierced nose is healing.