I have a very specific hair crush – it’s not just Alicia Silverstone, but Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless. When I first watched the film, I didn’t covet her lifestyle (well, maybe the moving wardrobe a tiny bit), I coveted Cher’s hair.
While teen girls raced to the shops in search of plaid skirts and knee-high socks, I raced to Boots to buy smoothing shampoos and Sun-In. I was yet to discover highlights (and I was too afraid to try the cap highlights anyway – ow!) and it was pre-ghd (yes, there really was a time before straightening irons were on every woman’s dressing table). My hair was a monstrous mane of kinky ringlets and a frizzy fringe; Cher’s silky sleek strands seemed as unattainable to me as too-fashionable-for-his-own-good Christian was to Cher.
Not only was Cher’s long locks smoothed to perfection, it was the glossy, shiny and straight epitome of all that I wanted my hair to be. And did I mention the colour? At a time when my hair colour could be best described as ‘strawberry blonde’ and at worse ‘going on ginger’, here came along a blonde babe that, for the first time ever, made me want to take the film poster to the salon and beg the hairdresser to make all my dreams come true. It wasn’t bombshell blonde or ice queen blonde, but natural, golden blonde. A girl-next-door blonde that had my name all over it (I was still at that age where I didn’t actually want to be noticed by any boys).
But when it came to how I could go about achieving this, I was totally clueless
And what did my hairdresser tell me when I showed him the Clueless poster? He advised me against trying to copy someone else’s style, but if I was really adamant then I needed length, length and more length (oh and to lose the frizzy fringe). Like Tai never giving up on finding the right guy, I persevered in my dream of the perfect hairstyle – only to discover that it wasn’t right for me after all (just like Tai and Elton or Tai and Josh…). Turns out a long, one-length hairstyle made my already fine hair fall practically flat on my head, while the lack of a fringe made my already prominent forehead seem like it took up half of my face. My mum took one look at me and said I was a ginger version of Wednesday Addams. Way harsh but, actually, totally true.
So I went back to my hairstylist (poor guy). I still desperately wanted Cher’s golden locks, but I had to admit that my hair was not thick and luscious, but thin and wiry. Said hairdresser put in some layers at the front, which softened up the look a lot and introduced a side fringe I still sport in some version or another today. Two years had passed since I fell in love with Cher’s hair and I was finally able to get the highlights I’d always wanted thanks to foils entering the hair scene (and my part time college job meant I could afford them – just).
I left the salon feeling revived. It wasn’t 100 per cent Cher, but it was 40 per cent Cher, 60 per cent me.
I walked confidently out of the salon and looked at my reflection in the window and realised it wasn’t just the hair, it was the way Cher wore it. It was a part of who she was. When she’d confidently flip it over to one side to take stock of a situation. Or put it in rollers before her big (if unsuccessful) date with Christian, she was always in control of her hair (if not the situation she found herself in). Was it this that I’d been crushing on all along?
It wasn’t just that I loved the cut, the style and the colour (although I did, intimately), I loved the way Cher’s hair was a part of who she was.
Roll forward a couple of decades and with the introduction of thickening hair products, those blessed ghd’s and balayage, I’m closer than ever to achieving Cher’s style (it maybe 20 years later but, hey, better late than never). But I’ve also come to accept my hair for who it is (if not myself). So what if my cowslick means I’ll never be able to fully achieve a fringe without a live-in hairdresser? So what if my hair resembles a lamp shade whenever I get a trim that accidentally goes above my shoulders? When I want to (read: can be bothered), I can tame my hair into beautiful, luscious locks thanks to mousse (it’s back, people!), styling crème, straighteners and glossing spray (so much lighter than a serum). My hair is a part of who I am and I’m proud of it, damn it!
But given the chance, would I ever go back to my Cher days? As if!1