I’ve watched Victoria Derbyshire’s big reveal a couple of times now, where she takes off her wig to show her real hair underneath, a year after it starts growing back after chemo. I have no regrets about not wearing a wig two summers ago, but there have been times when I have longed for a wig in the last few months when I’ve been trying to grow my hair longer. It was easy being bald; I’ve had far more angst about this in-between stage. I’ve tried to grow it several times, but each time it got a bit longer it grew outwards making me look like one of the Hair Bear Bunch and I hated it, so I would have it cut short again.
I’m really grateful for the publicity I’ve had about my book, but it’s strange to see photos of myself looking so unlike how I would choose to look. It sounds oh so shallow, when I know people who are facing genuine traumas and challenges, but it has really mattered to me. Several years ago I went through a phase of using straighteners to iron my curls into a sleek glossiness that would only last a day or so until it went frizzy. Then one night I had a dream that I was going to see my grandma, and I was really anxious that my hair was untidy. I was putting wax on my hair to try and make it smooth and neat, but that just made it worse. The dream encapsulated for me the pressure to conform, to make myself acceptable to others, to squash who I really am, and ever since I have worn my hair curly. My curls somehow reflect my true self. The short hairstyle my hairdresser, Bianca, gave me early last year was ok, but I have wanted my wild curls again because that is who I am.
In the last couple of weeks I feel like something has shifted. My hair has grown just long enough for me to like how it looks. My appearance is much more in tune with how I feel inside – stronger, more myself again, overcoming, moving on.