‘Why I’ve erased a lifetime of blonde’
I have been blonde for 38 years, only 14 of them natural. I started bleaching the hair on my head the moment that the mousiness began to creep in, an event that seemed to coincide with the onset of adolescence: my periods started, my boobs grew, my hips thickened, I started to get stretch marks. I didn’t like it. I felt awkward, ill at ease. My hair was the one thing I felt I could control, and so, at the tender age of 14, I began dyeing it back to the colour it had been when I was a child. Already, subconsciously, I was worried about ageing.
It never occurred to me that I could or should be anything other than blonde. Blondes have more fun, after all. Even if I didn’t overtly realise I was staying blonde for this reason, I now know that deep down I had some idea that being blonde would make me more aesthetically pleasing, and perhaps help me to attract boys. Blonde hair, blue eyes, big tits: what’s not to love? Quite a lot, as it turned out, but it was another two decades or so before I would realise that true love does not give a damn about your hair colour, just your sense of self-worth. But by that time, I was locked into blonde. It seemed to run through my veins, even if the collar and cuffs didn’t quite match.
My relationship with my hairdresser is among the most enduring of my life, perhaps because I got alopecia at 18 and was desperate to hide it. Daniel Galvin Jr has been taking care of my hair for a decade now, lovingly tending to it, nurturing it, making it look natural, even if it is nothing of the sort. He knows almost everything about my life, even the stuff I am too scared to write about in the pages of Stella .He is not just my hairdresser. He is the person who has watched me go from the scared, balding 20-something in the grip of addiction, to the sober, married woman I am now. ‘I want to go pink,’ I told him a couple of months ago, as he tended to my roots. ‘Of course you do,’ he replied. ‘Of course you should. You’ve grown out of blonde. It is time for you to experiment!’
My friend, the campaigner and writer Scarlett Curtis, is very pink – but she is also a good 15 years younger than me. Could I carry it off? ‘Why not?’ she said. ‘Why not?’ Daniel agreed. I was 38, free from the chains of alcoholism, and
I could do whatever I damn well pleased. So I sat down in Daniel’s chair, the place I feel safest apart from my sofa, and I let him do his thing. It took eight hours to erase a lifetime of blonde, which isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. I screamed in delight when I saw it. I thought that maybe I was having an early midlife crisis, but I didn’t care.
In the school playground, mums joked that they mistook me for a new nanny. At home, my husband has begun to look lustily at me again. I keep being told how healthy I look, how golden my skin appears, which I think must be to do with the pink. But really, all that matters is what I think. Because pink hair, to me, represents a new-found confidence, a throwing-off of the self-consciousness that would previously have stopped me doing anything too radical with my hair, for fear of being laughed at. Now I know that most people are too caught up in their own heads to care, so I’m going to enjoy doing what I want with mine. Next stop, purple?
I was 38, free from the chains of alcoholism and I could do what I damn well pleased
Left Bryony undergoing her pink transformation