Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Heroines have messy hair

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that if one is to write of a heroine, she may not have perfect hair. She may have no hair - through illness or act of defiance or selflessness, it may curl riotously but more importantly uncontrollably, or hang limp like a wet dish rag but we are uncomfortable with the notion of easily perfect hair in a novel. We might like to look at perfect hair, to watch movies and struts up red carpets of long tresses shining in soft magazine lighting, but when it comes to the written word, when we have to imagine her, no author could contrive to make a truly loveable heroine who dared to have perfect hair.

It is unrelatable, to all of us, who have painstakingly sprayed and curled and ironed and zhuzzed only for it to look worse than when it started and to toss it up in a messy bun that is aiming for carefree and casual and somehow beachy and instead looks unfinished and lopsided. Who have massaged in a hot oil treatment aiming for luscious shine and ended up instead with a pool of grease that clings grimly to the scalp.

I tried to write a short story tonight, one with a title character of a female nature and it struck me that in describing her I had no choice but to make her hair messy and it annoyed me. It felt clichéd  to describe the hair that refuses to do as it's told. Everyone has read about *that* character before. Even the abominable Anastasia Steele has wild curly hair. And yet when I tried to imagine a heroine with hair that stayed put and gleamed in the sunshine in perfect waves I felt distrustful. I didn't like her. And so the messy hair stayed.

Google thinks this is messy hair. 

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