Recently, on a fairly substantial road trip, my partner Phil and I were listening to a commercial radio station – that’s not me being coy, I’ve been to bed and asleep since then and I genuinely can’t remember the name of it. Anyway, that doesn’t matter, we were enjoying the tunes and being irritated at not winning the hourly competition (£500 prize and we entered at least three times! I’m sure it was a fix! One of the people that did win sounded like the DJ putting on a voice and talking to herself!).
They seemed to be playing the same three adverts on repeat too (also annoying!), one of which began by posing the question “what price would you put on your hearing?” While the advert didn’t really do a good job on us because neither of us rushed out to book hearing tests when we got home, it did spark a lively debate about the value of things that money can’t actually buy.
I don’t know how the topic changed from hearing to hair, (our conversations are very eclectic and we often go off on a tangent… I almost typed “we often go off on a tandem” there. We don’t. That would have been a lie!), but Phil asked a question that I really had to stop and think about.
“If someone wanted to ‘buy your hair’, so you had to shave it all off, what’s the minimum amount of money you would accept?”
It was an interesting question and before I decided upon my answer, I needed to ask a few questions myself, to ascertain the conditions (quite apart from “who on earth would even want to do that?!”) – would my hair grow back? Do I have to stay bald while my hair grows back or can I wear wigs and hats or headscarves or maybe even get a hair transplant? Are there restrictions on what I can do with the money? Is it mine to keep even after my hair grows back?
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It wasn’t an easy decision. My hair is pretty much my favourite feature. I am very precious about it. I know that usually, no matter how nicely I do my hair, within ten minutes of leaving the house, I look like I’ve just stumbled up an embankment after a derailment, but the thing is, my hair has great potential. In someone else’s hands, it can look amazing.
We talked about women with shaved heads in general. Two close friends in recent years have Braved The Shave in aid of cancer charities and they both looked striking without hair. A number of high profile actresses have also reached for the razor for specific roles, sending the media into a frenzy, the latest being Cara Delevingne.
After much thought and discussion, I decided that I would be prepared to “sell my hair” for the princely (princessly??) sum of fifty thousand pounds. Well, I had to make it worth my while…
All those hats and wigs won’t come cheap before we even get started on the hair transplant cost. Plus I always said if I ever had an unexpected windfall, I would like to donate a sizeable sum to charity. When you are hypothetically coming into a sum of money, you can afford to be magnanimous without appearing greedy. And after all, it’s only hair, right?
Phil then posed another thought provoking question – “Ok, so you have shaved your head and got your £50k … how much will you pay to get your hair back?”
That, to me was an even more interesting question that the original and I did mull it over for quite some time. I love my hair, I really do… but now I have a LOT of money and I’m not entirely sure I want to part with it. After all, some people change their hairstyle frequently and love to ring the changes. That said, I’m not one of them, I have had more or less the same hairstyle for twenty odd years, aside from a brief foray into hair modelling, which saw my waist length hair chopped and replaced with a shoulder length bob. I was devastated. (I was hiding my feelings in this picture!)
It’s only hair?!! NO! It’s so much more than that. I felt like I had lost an integral part of me, of who I was and how I looked. My hair has never grown back to its former glory, despite my best efforts.
Nowadays my biggest hair decisions are basically “fringe or no fringe?” and “can I be bothered to do my roots this weekend?” Maybe it IS “only hair” after all – or maybe I have come to realise that I am more than just my looks.
With this in mind, (and to get on with getting off this tandem and answering the question) I opted to hand back between five and ten thousand pounds from my original fifty grand. I figured I would have my hair and still make good use of the balance. (Come on, I’m blonde and I like having nice hair, but I’m not an idiot!)
Hair, it seems is such a personal thing – such a huge part of our identity – some religions cover it up, others shave it off. It’s said that when women have big life changes, they sometimes make dramatic changes to their hairstyle to reflect this or as a statement of sorts. Think Britney Spears. When her personal life was going into meltdown and she was being pursued relentlessly by the paparazzi, at the hairdressers, she snatched up the clippers and shaved her own head in front of the photographers.
I’m of course not suggesting that such a drastic change is the way forward for everyone, but sometimes even a subtle change is enough to change your whole outlook. I can’t offer you fifty thousand pounds for a haircut, mind!
By the way, while this might sound like a lighthearted, frivolous conversation (it was just an interesting way to brighten up a long car journey) I am aware that hair loss is an emotive and sensitive issue, and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like we were poking fun. I know it’s no laughing matter.