Hairdressing woes that dogged me all my life

hairdressing woes

Current hairdressing woes aside, my life has been blighted by a rough deal dealt by my genes!

You’d think a sane and rational older adult, in a world with so many problems and so much sadness, would have better things to think about. But my genes preoccupy too much of my thinking time. It’s not my congenital hammer toe, but my hair, which disturbs me.

My mother used to tell me my hair would be the death of her, not a pleasant subject for a child to contemplate.

‘Your hair sticks up in all directions,’ she would say. ‘Cowlicks!’

Basically straight, my hair grows in different directions. The fringe flicks up off my forehead. At the crown it grows randomly in tufts and all along the neckline little twists occur. It takes effort, a water spray and hairdryer to slick it down for an hour.

Baby days

I tried to imagine how cows could have got close enough for their tongues to have been in contact with my head. My mother had a photo of me in a bonnet at about a year old. She’d propped me on the saddle of a horse on a holiday at the farm of her aunt and some cousins near Nanson, in the mid-west of Western Australia.

There must have been a cow on the farm and someone had carelessly left me where it could lick me,’ I thought.

The bonnet was obviously meant to cover the damage done by the cow.

My father called me ‘Henry’ at least for a few months. Henry lived in a comic strip with his one hair curled on top of his head. Most of my hair had fallen out by the time I was six or eight months old, as babies’ hair often does. Dad thought I looked like the comic strip character. Maybe a cow licked Henry, too?

The moral, if there is one, would be that we should be careful what we tell children. Some of our careless sayings could last for eighty years or longer.

Life without curls

When my fine, mousy hair grew at last, my mother hoped it would be curly. She coerced hairdressers. They cut my hair shorter than I liked on the off-chance that if we worked hard enough curls might emerge. Curly hair became my aspiration. I regularly also ate crusts, believing it might help.

Goodness knows why curls were so special for my mother. Her own curly hair? Shirley Temple, perhaps? The baby boy down the street, who seemed to be the ‘gold standard’ against which I should have conformed?

Some of my children and grandchildren have curls. I watched how hard curly hair can be to manage. No harder than straight curly hair, I bet.

I fared badly at school. Bullies called my too-short hair a ‘boys’ cut’. Pigtails made my head ache.

Hairy photos

My hair did, occasionally conform. Twice I had it permed, both times with success.

Elizabeth and Maureen, BANGKOK
With my sister, Elizabeth Worts, at Wat Arun, Bangkok, 1990
The bob I favoured for most of my later working years
Christmas Day 1991 at Jigalong after attending to a large number of Martu people hurt in a riot. Taken after the second Royal Flying Doctor Service plane left at 5 pm.

Hairdressing woes

Hairdressers do not fit my idea of good friends. Hairdressing does not soothe me or make me feel special. Self-care never involves a trip to the beauty shop.

I slink off to the salon whenever my hair becomes completely unruly. Very rarely do I feel happy when look in the mirror after a haircut.

Over the past few years, my always fine hair thinned. After Anne died, it fell out in handfuls. My hairdressing woes got worse. Stylists decided that they could cover the patches where the hair thinned. They cut it shorter and shorter so that it stuck out everywhere. Especially over cowlicks.

It no longer covered my hearing aids. They’d been my prized, hidden possessions. Perhaps I enjoyed them most because they were hidden. No one wants the world to know they have a hearing deficit. However, you can read more about my hearing miracle here.

A future without hairdressing woes?

A few months ago, I decided I’d had enough. No more hairdressing woes or torture. I’d grow my hair until the old bob style shown above emerged. I’d also try to keep myself neat and tidy while it grew.

Try and tell a hairstylist you only want a centimetre off your hair because you are growing it! It’s like using a foreign language or speaking in tongues.

Chop, chop, chop! There’s hair all over the floor. More than you thought you’d grown in the past five years.

My new plan includes staying away from hairdressers until at least October. Then I’ll present for my longer, more elegant style. In the meantime, several family members claim they can cut my fringe, cowlicks or not. We’ll see!

Weekly word challenge

This blog is my response to the weekend word blog challenge from my friends, SueW in Yorkshire, who blogs at and her blogging partner, GC, who blogs at themainaisle. You might like to check out their entertaining websites.

Copyright, Maureen Helen 2022

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  1. I love this post because I, too, have had hair woes all of my life. I have very fine, straight hair. As a child I was taken to stylists who, quite frankly, permed and styled my hair as if I were a middle-aged adult. I hated it. I laugh now when I look at old photos of me, but it wasn’t funny. All of my life going to the hairdresser was like having to go to the dentist to get a cavity filled. Finally, I found a stylist who could actually cut and style my hair to my satisfaction. However, she decided to move into another occupation. But I have found someone else now, and since she began cutting my hair, I have received several compliments on how good my hair looks. (I do have to slick my cowlick down, though.) I hope your plan works for you!

    1. Hi Deb. I really feel for you and your hair woes. They actually sound a bit worse than mine. I don’t know if I would have liked having permed hair, but suspect that it might have been a little better than being called a boy. In those days, I was very sensitive, and it really hurt. How wonderful that you have a stylist who understands your hair. That must be wonderful. Thanks for your good wishes about my plan. Fingers crossed. I’ll let you know how it goes.

        1. That’s very helpful, Deb. I expect that you like having your hair dressed?

  2. I”LL be 82 tomorrow my hair problem is it keeps falling out!

    1. Many happy returns of the day for tomorrow, Myrna. Yes I think hair-loss is a little talked about problem as we get older. It is very annoying!

  3. Oh, you made me laugh!
    My hair keeps changing. All my life it was wavy and easy to manage. In my mid fifties it became very curly, but during the past year it has become straighter.
    My mum had curly hair, and one of my brothers, my daughter Louisa became curly when she was eleven. Joss is curly too but he straightens it, sadly he’s losing his hair. The other girls have fine thin hair like their dad.
    Maureen, thank you for joining us. 🙂

    1. Glad you laughed, Sue. My hair has changed almost year by year, but always to something I liked less than before, except the year I met John. We sailed on his yacht, and my post retirement long hair pulled back hairdo didn’t work with being the sailor I hoped I was becoming. That year, after it was cut it curled. I loved it. But sadly, that didn’t last long. My sons are all balding, which makes me sad.

      It’s a pleasure to be part of your challenges. I just seem to have a different time frame from you and CG.

      1. Oh, the time frame doesn’t matter. People tend to spread their responses throughout the week.
        Time wise You’re ahead of me by seven hours and Gerry’s behind me by seven hours!

  4. Is anyone really happy with their hair? I’m always saddest when I’ve just forked out a couple of hundred bucks at the hairdresser and still feel like going home and sticking my head under a tap! Generally I scoop it back with a hair elastic and hope for the best! And by the way .. I’ve always thought your hair looked fabulous!

    1. That is so funny, Rachel. I always think you look both beautiful and glamorous. I love your hair!

  5. Wow, the amount of times I have had horrible haircuts, where I have gone to fix it myself, is outrageous! Why is it that we want a haircut so bad, then get it, and then regret it for some time

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ana. Yes puzzles me too how I have so many horrible haircuts.

  6. Horrible hair cuts how funny. As a child I had fine miserable sort of hair. But a lovely amber sort of colour. As I grew it thickened up and even now in my 70’s hairdressers say well it’s fine but you have lots of it. I grew it longer over the past few years and enjoy that. I’m trying to look like Audrey Hepburn!
    I was brought up with a mother who convinced me that past a certain age ladies should not have long hair. But I love it. And I have noticed that Parisian women don’t automatically cut their hair at 50 or whatever a certain age is. So they are my style icons now
    I was also referred to as a boy as a child by unkind schoolmates. I sympathise. My mother convinced that frequent cutting would thicken it. Unfortunately she cut it!
    Since it all fell out with cancer treatment. I have overcome my worst fear for hair troubles.
    I do enjoy the humour in your blogs

    1. I’m not sure where your comment has been lurking, Ann, but thank you. Your hair sounds lovely and I’m very envious of you with think long hair, which I love. Mine, as you will have gathered from the blog is fine and thin. Everyone told me I should cut my hair which I grew after I retired from full time work and I have so regretted it. Thank you for sharing about your brush with cancer. I hope all is better now.

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