I started thinking about my hair when I was 10 years old. I remember watching movies like Labyrinth, The Legend of Billie Jean and Madonna’s Who’s That Girl. I remember seeing clips of Jennie Garth as Kelly Taylor on 90210, even though we didn’t watch that show (my family opted for shows like Twin Peaks and Star Trek: The Next Generation and our favorite soap opera, recorded daily on our VCR, All My Children, accompanied by meals of Rice-A-Roni). Anyway, I remember seeing Jennie Garth and feeling this pain in the pit of my stomach – a sharp awareness that I didn’t look anything like her – and that that was a bad thing.
I remember feeling a sense of urgency to remedy this situation of not looking like Jennie Garth. I marched straight to the bathroom of our 1980s suburban home and staring at my dirty dishwater blonde hair – crazy curls, frizz, and uneven blunt bangs. I searched the cabinets for anything that would make me look like Jennie Garth, Madonna, Billie Jean, or even David Bowie. I remember feeling completely clueless but totally determined.
Fast forward 20 years. Over two decades I had run the gamut of hair styles. From a Michelle Williams pixie to a jet black David Bowie shag – and everything in between. I had employed an army of bleach, toner, stylists, straighteners, and curling irons to transform me into anything I wanted to be. At 30 years old my hair and I were finally in this place of “blonde” and “pretty” and “respectable” and on some days “hot”. But I wanted more. I wanted to be Sarah Jessica Parker. With the same sense of urgency I felt to be Jennie Garth, I found myself scouring YouTube for hair tutorials to figure out how I could look just like Carrie Bradshaw at her most refined self. That was seven months ago.
After a couple hours and countless videos of gorgeous Asian girls showing me how to transform my hair into that of SJP, I walked into my little 1920s bathroom and plugged in my best curling iron and my heavy duty hair dryer. I risked blowing a fuse but I didn’t care. I gave myself a good close look in the mirror and once again felt completely clueless but totally determined. And with that, instead of grabbing for the hot curling iron, I grabbed a .5″ section of hair behind my ear and starting twisting and ripping it until it formed a knotty dread. I felt the opposite of hopeless. I felt completely and totally liberated. And now I feel like Kathleen.