Double Blossom xx – Week 10
I’m not sure why but when I was little, I was obsessed with long hair. For many years, I would beg my mother to let mine grow long. She told me I could when I was old enough to take care of it myself. And until then, she gave me easy to take care of classic pudding bowl cuts, which later graduated into shaggy Vidal Sassoon inspired cuts like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.
When I turned 6, we came to an agreement and I started to grow my hair. And grow, and grow, and grow until it reached maximum length at just below my waist. My hair has always been thick and coarse. My hairdressers tell me that I will never have to worry about going bald, which is a huge advantage now. But as a young girl, I hated that there wasn’t much I could do with my hair; so boring that it just hung there! I looked like Wednesday Addams! For 5 years, I went to ballet lessons at least 3 times a week where I had to put my hair in a bun. Finding barrettes, which could hold all my hair, was a challenge. And when I did pirouettes, my bun always seemed to be lagging behind my turning head like a dead weight. Possibly appropriate for playing the Dying Swan but definitely not for an ethereal fairy. This photo of me with my long hair and John Lennon glasses was taken when I was about 13.
I loved my hair though. It was a part of who I was; the girl with the long black hair. And then at age 15, rather unceremoniously, I decided to chop it all off. I can’t remember a specific reason why. I think for me, it was an unofficial coming of age. One weekend, I went to a friend’s house and she just started cutting. I don’t even remember it’s being particularly traumatic. I thought quite confidently that if I didn’t like it, it would just grow back. I did wonder a little if I might lose my sense of identity. But those fears were allayed the following Monday when I went to school. Everyone came rushing up to me expressing shock but then within an hour, they got used to it and I realised I was still me.
I love going to get my haircut because of its sense of renewal. And because my hair grows so quickly, I have never been frightened of getting a “bad haircut”. I have gone really short several times and even once got a perm.
Until I was ten, I had always wanted blonde hair. And then we went to Tokyo and I saw some Japanese girls who had bleached their hair. It looked so weird and unnatural to me. That might have been the first time I realised that I would never look like a white person. I was never tempted to colour or dye my hair after that. Wait, that’s a lie. I did try to henna my hair once because all my friends were doing it. And while their hair acquired beautiful highlights in the sun, my hair colour didn’t change at all.
When I look through these photos, I realise that the hairstyle with which I am most comfortable is the one I have now; the same as the one I had when I first cut it at age 15. Yes, every time I go to the hairdresser and he asks me what I want, I say, “the same thing, please”. I don’t mind. I like that at age 15 in my coming of age, I knew then even if I didn’t realise it that I had found my style.
Lots of love. Xtine
The above post is part of Double Blossom xx, an Instagram project I started with photographer Christina Wilson Elms during lockdown. Each week we post a photo of ourselves and write a letter to the other on an agreed theme. If you are interested in reading our stories, you can find us on Instagram at Double Blossom xx — Two London sistas share stories about being Chinese in the UK and the US. Same age, same name; almost.