On a particularly low 'n' lazy afternoon I was watching America's Next Top Model, which as we all know is about as representative of the modelling world as The Apprentice is of the business world. A friend of mine, already a successful model, went on BNTM and didn't even get past Boot Camp. I am under no illusions that it is a reality show first, with hot contestants who are often vain as anything.
My favourite of all the episodes is always the makeover episode, seeing the true bratty vain ones whine and moan about their haircuts and the confident gracious ones who just plain love whatever's done. And this is a truism about radical changes to your look, something I, a person so preoccupied with understanding the true power of a good look, can attest to.
(Your average modelling show contestant)
A little story. Last May I achieved possibly the pinnacle of all my achievements, ever. I was, as part of an advertorial for John Frieda's product collection for redheads, in ELLE magazine. Four girls were selected and shot one sunny Saturday morning as part of a one-page advertorial showcasing the products and looks available to redhead girls, and I was LOVING IT. My own Top Model moment.
But people griped. Girls on set complained about their shoes, their clothes (and yes, I'll admit when they initially dressed me as an androgynous mod, I was frustrated that, even at ELLE, the default setting for a girl with short hair is to dress her as a boy) and even their hair. One girl requested that, after her hair was taken out of its flawlessly done high ponytail, they straighten it back into her previously protective curtain. I went out in Clapham that night to the most vile club I've ever been to (Infernos - avoid) with a bunch of traditional-looking friends with my hair still slicked flat on my head. I did it again the next day. I'd cut all my hair that short and slick it again in a heartbeat.
There are two types of people in the world, I think, when it comes to style. Those who know what look they want to convey early on and adapt it to last through the ages, and the clothes horses, the ones who like to try everything and are known for that. For being the ones who will do what no-one else will. Victoria Beckham vs Lady Gaga, perhaps. Ashlee Simpson is trotted out in one season to demonstrate how so many changes to your look just end up becoming your look, defining how people see you. I don't know why this fascinates me so much, but from being the girl who always feels very different to the norm and the one who is looked at in a different way in the street, I've got a huge, undefinable chip on my shoulder. But I guess what it boils down to is that I'm not in love enough with any aspect of my personal look that I'd cry in a stylist's chair while they shaved my head. Underneath makeup, hair, clothes and attitude I'm always me. I'm an actress, and part of the fun of fashion is playing all these parts different looks can give you. Confidence despite any look, or fear of actually being exposed? Both are true. But the expression is 'adapt or die'. And life's too short to care that much about your hair. Life is short, but hair grows fast. And there's so much fun to be had in the inbetween.