A couple weeks ago, in the gloom of a rainy Spring Break, with one child recovering from a adenoid/tonsillectomy (Lana), another refusing to walk on his walking cast (Mihiretu) and a third grumping around the house because she was “wasting her vacation” (that’d be Mae), I bleached my hair blonde.
I say I bleached my hair blonde when in fact I hired a professional. I had fully intended to do it myself (you should have seen my “DIY blonde” google searches) but my sheer-master/hair-management guru, Sloan, made me see the light (Me: “I’m going to fuck myself up, aren’t I?” Sloan, nodding sagely: “You’re going to fuck yourself up.”)
I was blonde as a kid and then, with the help of highlights, had acres of blonde hair in my twenties. When I quit acting at thirty and simultaneously became a mother, I simplified by going brown and short. I never, though, in all those years of real and fake blondeness, have been this blonde. I’m Annie Lennox, Blondie, Billy Idol blonde (I’ve had “Eyes Without a Face” running through my head for days).
Okay, prepare yourself for some generalizations – I’m really good at these. Men, largely, don’t like short hair. I think they find it threatening. Find me a man who genuinely appreciates a pixie cut and I can virtually guarantee that he’s either very cool and sophisticated (like my beloved husband, who, okay, is maybe just humoring me) or, well, gay (and cool and sophisticated).
Women, on the other hand, tend to love short hair. I can’t tell you the number of times – a day – an unknown woman compliments me on my hair and confides that she’d cut hers like that – “but there’s no way I could pull it off”. I think these women are earnest. I think that women also know that men don’t like short hair and it’s nice to have the field narrowed – my short hair makes me less of a threat.
Men, generally speaking, love blonde hair. There’s almost a Pavlovian aspect to their response. I remember walking down the street in LA and men shouting at me from behind. My ass isn’t J. Lo territory – they were responding to that swinging blondeness. Since dyeing my hair this time, I’ve coincidentally been on a kick to fix everything that’s broken in and around the house (dimmer switches, leaky faucets, peeling paint, cracked windshields). The plumber, the mechanic, even the skylight-guy have been particularly solicitous. I swear I’ve saved money.
Women, on the other hand, can find the blonde a little threatening. If the short hair makes me less appealing to the male species, the blonde makes me more, and the ladies are well aware. For the most part my loving community of women has been enthusiastic about the change but I knew I was really onto something when an acquaintance, someone who refuses to meet my eye though we’ve been at the same school functions for years, said, when introduced to me (again), “Your hair is different,” her nose wrinkling delicately, her sneer barely masked.
I probably sound pretty vain (which I am) and competitive (which I can be) and a slut for attention (why, yes) but I don’t think that’s wholly what this is about. To be honest, my main motivator for changing hair colors was that a lighter shade would hide the silver at my temples more effectively. I’m aging; my blonde bombshell days are behind me. BUT. It’s comforting to add a bit of the terrain of my twenties to the flat (if infinitely more tranquil) landscape of my forties. There’s a woman underneath all these children, I swear there is.