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I am sitting in front of my laptop as I write this finding any excuse to fling my head round quickly to get the full benefit of 'the bounce'.  It's that lovely feeling you get when you come back from the hairdresser all pampered and preened with a head of hair you really get only once every eight weeks,when someone who knows exactly what they are doing washes your hair with something gorgeous like Moroccan Oil and gets to grip with the volumising brush and you really feel 'you're worth it'. It has got me thinking about the impact our hair has on our mood, and how we decide to wear it reflects our personality.

Why is our hair so important? It is after all simply strands of a dead protein. Culturally it reflects faith and fashion, violence and aggression, sexuality and self-acceptance  – growing it long, covering it up, shaving it off, coiling it, plucking it – its social significance should not be underestimated. We have 'bad hair days' second only to premenstrual tension as a reason to avoid confrontation with someone, and as it advertises the aging process so vividly both men and women try various ways to turn back the clock, with greater or lesser success. We also respond in various ways to how our children choose to wear their hair. The moment we lose the option to trim that fringe it seems anything goes. Especially it seems in Evie's case,  cans of hairspray.

Obviously, times and fashions change. I don't think for example that my generation of women are going to suddenly look in the People's Friend magazine and think 'Oooh time for a blue rinse I think', or get to an age where hat hair is de rigueur. We will watch carefully the route taken by women our age in the media and continue to take advice from someone who has been trained beyond curlers and perms. (Actually, I sneaked a peep in the mirror at someone having something new used on their hair this morning, the OPod a type of self-heating roller. A proper girlie gadget). Or an option I like the sound of  – getting very old, letting it grow really long and white and then take to wearing it in a bun a la Doris Lessing. When I become a real writer I want a real writers hair do.

I have my hair cut and styled by the lovely Ali at The Mount Hair Salon in Wellington. I feel completely confident under her expert scissors and actually enjoy the whole experience. I have a cut I love and that suits me. This is a great step forward for me. When I was younger I would always say I preferred the dentist's chair to the stylist's. I was so conscious of my hair being one of my few redeeming features that with each snip of the scissors I felt my personality potentially falling to the floor. I regularly hated what was done to me, but felt unable to do anything other than smile, pay and leave a tip. 'I like it better when I have done it myself' was a regular cry.

I think the change may have first started when I lost my hair following chemotherapy. I had long hair cut short, then got fed up with running my fingers through it only to find it drifting to the carpet in handfuls and had it shaved off. When the treatment was over I looked as if I should be wearing 10 hole Doc Martens and carrying a cosh but after three months the mass of dodgy grey curls that grew back could almost be called a style and I looked worryingly like my mother. I quickly decided that whether it suited me or not I would grow it long, just to show I could. The first time I looked in the mirror and a blonde woman a bit like my pre-cancer self stared back at me was a genuinely moving moment. Then with Ali's guidance it became a little shorter, it suited me better and I am where I am today. My hair is bouncy and happy, and I am getting there.




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