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.
Oh, Amanda, my sypahties! If it’s any comfort, I’m sure it didn’t look *nearly* as bad as you thought (it always seems worse to the person with the hair than to anyone else). I’ve been pretty lucky with my hair, largely I think because I’m cautious, and I’ve been going to the same salon since I was fourteen and the same stylist for the past eleven years. She understands I don’t like drastic changes, that when I say “trim a little”, I mean a *little* and that is probably not a good idea to experiment beyond my single-process color (which is just slightly more auburn than my natural hair color). I’ve written heroines with all sorts of hair colors, I realize. Fiona is a golden blonde and Caroline a silvery-blodne. Nicola has red-gold hair and Demetra has Titian hair. The rest are in the brown-to-auburn range. Mélanie has “walnut brown hair”–I had a hard time finding a word to describe it–I wanted a very dark, glossy brown with out touches of auburn.
Nope, nothing like that. . . just the usual high school photos that the hair was the way I always wore it (at that point) looked worse in the pics than it did normally. LOL Alas, the senior year pics were mighty nice. But then I’m pretty sure Mom put in lots of hair spray. . . I’m sure she must have or something. LOL
I have curly hair . . . anyone out there who shares this trait, knows with what trepidation we enter a salon for the first time. Far too many stylists simply don’t understand how to cut curly hair, and proceed to cut it as though it were straight hair. What does this lead to? Oh, a host of horrible things: bangs the rise up right to your hairline (!), or the inevitable ‘shag’, that seems never to have gone out of the hack-stylist’s bag of tricks, or *shudder* the failed bob.
I’ve simply given in and accepted that my hair is best when left to its own devices. So long as I allow it to do its best imitation of a Waterhouse painting, all is well.
Oh, I feel for you, Amanda! Bad hair always feels like the hugest disaster. Even though you *know* there are worse things, it doesn’t feel like it! I’m glad it all got worked out.
I had long hair for years, and when I was ready to go short, I asked the stylist to keep it shoulder length, so I could gradually adjust. Nope. She went super short and I thought I would die. I was meeting my dh and kids afterwards and they walked right past me. Didn’t recognize me. I nearly burst into tears right there outside the bookstore.
I had a DREADFUL perm one time. A perm. And then I got one again!
As for hair color, I’ve had green, blue, black, purple, red and blonde (streaks, except for the black), but that was all deliberate on my part. So besides the perm, no disasters. I’ve seen the same haircutter since I was 18, too.
“She went super short and I thought I would die. I was meeting my dh and kids afterwards and they walked right past me. Didn’t recognize me. I nearly burst into tears right there outside the bookstore.”
Deb, that’s terrible!!! But your short hair looks so adorable. 🙂 The funny thing with my hair is it took some people at work 4 days to realize it was a different color. Now, maybe it was because I was wearing scarves that covered a lot, but I think it points out just how unobservant library people are (except when it comes to overdue books, LOL)
Megan, I also once had a perm, in high school. My hair was long then, and thick and heavy, so they used more solution than they should have and fried it. I should have learned my lesson about hair and caustic chemicals then, but nooooo.
I’ve never had a hair disaster because I’m a wimp and will only make tiny changes. Oh, and I’ve been with the same stylist for (yikes!) two decades.
Amanda, I’m sorry but the hair but more happy that the date went well!
Amanda, if your hair is super dry, you might try oiling it. While it’s dry, brush it out and apply olive oil, bush it through, apply more. Repeat until your hair is fully saturated (but not dripping or anything). Leave it on all day, and apply heat if you can (blow dry or wrap your head in plastic and then put a HOT, wet towel over it. Once you wash it out it will be nice and moist. Then just condition it a lot for a week or so.
I’ve done this for years when my urge to do something crazy (like bleach my hair and dye it all blue) gets the better of my and leaves me with a head of fraggle hair.
I was trying to remember a hair disaster and couldn’t . . . until Megan brought up the high school perm. Tenth grade. The french poodle look. Oh, it was baaaaad. I had to live with the results, but I tore up my high school pictures that year. I tend to think of it as more mad wife in the attic shredding the wedding veil than Marianne dramatics, though.
I saved Marianne for the second time I failed my driving test at sixteen (on the sofa, in tears, convinced that I would be walking and bumming rides off friends for the Rest Of My Liiiiiife.)
I have curly hair. When have I not had a hair disaster? How about on the day of my high school graduation when the humidity turned my hair into a cotton ball. I now spend a fortune to have my hair cut at a hair salon that specializes in curly hair.
I tried the olive oil thing! Wrapped my head up in a towel while I was doing some writing. My hair is much softer now, thanks so much for the tip, Kalen.
The good thing is, my cut is so short now (the second stylist snipped some off the ends to save it from breaking off) that to grow it out to my own hair won’t take long. 🙂
Glad to hear it worked!
Two responses: for blonde highlights gone brassy/orange try a toner to tone down the brassy effect. I have one here (in Australia) called Agora – a mousse that you put in your hair. It is purple but works a treat. I don’t know when you posted the blog so you may already be looking gorgeous :D.
Re: regency hair… I admit to struggling to imagine the hair styles of the regency period. Films such as P&P BBC style had the girl getting their hair done by the maid or each other. I loved the recent P&P with Kiera Knightly for the details and also the ‘informalising’ of the home wardrobe. I just can’t imagine having to make those elaborate hairstyles every day. They didn’t wash their hair as often as we seem to with hair dryers and shorter hair styles either.
Amanda, I’m glad your hair is now back to a a style and color that you like.
I took your precautions to heart when I went to the salon earlier this morning and went with a conservative cut and color, not what I was previously thinking of. Nope no blonde highlights, nor super-short hair.