Hair Matters

So, last weekend I had a Major Catastrophe in my life. Drama, tears, threats, wailing, the whole Marianne Dashwood-esque thing. I innocently went in for a haircut on Saturday afternoon, and thought it might be fun to get some “light, summery highlights.” To look pretty for RWA and all. Alas, at this salon it seems “light highlights” translates to “make my whole head look like a marigold.” Yes, my hair was orange, and only hours before my second date with Workplace Sweetie! My mother’s colorist (who I called, sobbing, when I got home) said she could probably fix it, but couldn’t fit me in until Friday. In the meantime, I would just have to wander around quoting mournful poems in the rain in true Marianne fashion–and hope that the water would somehow wash away the orange. (Luckily we have had a LOT of rain here lately). I also made hats and scarves my friends.

I’ve always kind of liked my hair. It’s thick and shiny, a nice, dark chocolate color, and seldom lets me down (unlike, say, my stubbornly unflat abdomen). I was surprised to find how much I take it for granted. And that so much of my self-identity seems tied up in being a brunette. Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Anna Pavlova, Jackie O., Ingres’ Princesse de Broglie–all women I would like to look like (not to mention Rachel Weisz and Penelope Cruz). All brunettes.

I started thinking about romance novel heroines, those girls who have flowing curls on the covers and hair like ‘spun moonlight’ in the text (even though in reality they probably seldom washed it, and there were no deep conditioners and frizz-release gels). How often do they fall into categories of ‘intellectual’ brunettes, ‘angelic’ blondes, ‘fiery’ redheads? In my own writing I try hard not to fall into these types–Rosalind, the heroine of my Regency Rules of Love, is a redhead, but she’s very proper and, well, rule-bound. Marguerite, the French assassin from my recently finished manuscript, is blonde, but not angelic. But very often I found that my heroines are studious girls with dark locks. Hmmm. Wonder where THAT comes from?

I’m reminded of Anne of Green Gables, and how her hair turned green and had to be cut off after a run-in with some cheap hair dye. I feel for Anne, I really do. You just can’t escape from your hair-color destiny. I’m also reminded of Marie Antoinette and her poufs, those super-elaborate hairdos built on scaffoldings of wire, cloth, gauze, horsehair, fake hair, and the woman’s own hair (if it hadn’t all fallen out after such abuse). It was all teased high off the forehead, doused with powder, and installed with miniature still-lifes, usually to express a sentiment (pouf au sentiment) or commemorate an event (pouf a la circonstance). What could my orange hair commemorate? Solidarity with the grapefruit juice industry? (I do like grapefruit juice, but never much wanted to look like it). A desire to match my new bottle of Chanel Heatwave nail polish? I just don’t know.

Have you ever had a hair disaster of your own? Are there any novel heroines or celebrities whose hair you covet? (I’ve always really liked Gwyneth Paltrow’s, but I’ve learned my hard lesson about trying to go blonde in any way!)

Oh, and the date went great, even though I had to tie a silk scarf over my hair that made me look vaguely like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean
And yesterday my mom’s colorist gave me back my dark hair! Not exactly like my own color (it’s quite a bit redder), and it’s dried out from all the abuse, but much, much better. You won’t have to look for my orange head floating around in Dallas.

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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