Of all the possible crimes against good hair that exist within our genetic code, there are few expressions of follicle mutiny more heinous than the cowlick. The agony that comes with that first bitter discovery of the cowlick, the futile attempts to assert dominance over it and then the inevitable crushing defeat is, in my opinion, in need of some serious psychological research. Call it the ‘five stages of cowlick’ grief perhaps?
Stage one: bovine beginnings
Now I suppose you are thinking I’m being a bit dramatic, perhaps that I should be used to it by now? What you are not aware of, however, is that I haven’t always lived with the knowledge of my cowlick. In fact, for the first part of my life I was seduced into false confidence, thanks to the eye-wateringly tight Pippi-Longstocking braids that my mother used to conceal the awful truth from me. My ‘whorl of woe’ was thrust unceremoniously upon me on my thirteenth birthday after a new radical haircut from Bavarian hairstylist Peter. My waist-length hair was chopped into a painfully patrician bob – inspired by a substitute history teacher I had at the time whose pink twinset, pearls and stiff upper lip had inexplicably spoken to my 13 year-old self. Within minutes of its first wash, I realised I had made a colossal mistake.
(Ed Note: This is how I imagine Peter to look)
Despite the assurances of Peter – a zealous devotee of applying copious amount of “pwooooduct” to any hair problem – my newly-acquired do would not be styled with a handful of wax and some carefully applied heat. No matter what I tried, that lawless patch of hair right in the centre of my forehead remained: a clusterfuck of follicles that poked out in all directions, mulishly refusing to adhere to protocol.
The following stages represent the remainder of my life. Rather than a progression think of it more as a cycle. I’m sure Stephen Fry talked about this type of circular feeling in one of the documentaries he made about his own depression. Nary a sign of an untreatable cowlick on Mr Fry though, is there? (All I’m saying).
Stage two: refusing to accept the awful truth
Enter denial, the most endearingly optimistic stage of the grief process. As I sat in front of my mirror, blasting my cowlick with heat from the hairdryer, acquiring third degree burns from a hair straightener applied so close to the scalp I could smell burning flesh, I still refused to believe I wouldn’t be able to master it. Clearly, I just didn’t wash it properly. I must have slept on the pillow funny. Maybe this was one of those quirks of styling and it was actually meant to look like this….
Stage three: irrational anger
Unfortunately, denial doesn’t last long and my rapid decent into the next stage – anger – was swift. Why, if I was to have any sort of genetic mutation, could it not have been something that was actually useful, like webbed feet (useful for underwater getaways) or a third nipple (the ultimate talking point at any party)?
Stage four: bargaining with yourself (an even sadder version of stage two)
Immediately following the rage comes bargaining, and the confidence that, if you just do that one thing you haven’t tried yet, the beast will be tamed. This will usually manifest itself as an eight-hour YouTube tutorial marathon watching heavily made up tanorexic pre-teens show you “how to, like, you know, not have shit hair’?
Youtube is NEVER a good idea.
Stage five: believe anything and improvise!
At first, I only attempted the sensible solutions, but when those remedies failed and my desperation mounted, I turned to the more….shall we say avant-garde remedies, the most memorable of which include massaging spit into the afflicted area (IN MY DEFENCE, the blogger in question did put forward a very compelling case for why the enzymes in spit would counteract the trajectory of my follicles) and then shaving it all off (which only led to several months of further distress as the hair to grew back, shooting up through the longer strands like a fledgling patch of bamboo).
And then I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel….
In the end I succumbed to the advice of multiple hairdressers and finally agreed to a heavy fringe, convinced by their assurances that the extra weight in the front would be enough to flatten my rogue thatch. At first, it appeared to have worked, and I walked out of the salon high on my own smug, satisfied I had finally conquered my bête noire…until I caught sight of my reflection just blocks later and there it was: that same old sprout of traitorous hair was revealed, standing to attention with a mocking salute.
That is what I mean about these stages as ‘cycles’…there isn’t so much a progression to success as it is a re-treading of old ground and misery. While I’ve been told that acceptance is the final resting place of your garden variety of grief, the regular experience does not involve the perpetual haunting from the grievee in question. Unlike those who have passed away, my cowlick is here to stay, so the best that I can do is continue to wrestle with it, and, on the mornings I fail, just pretend I’m an eccentric artist and it is a rejection of normality…or sanity.
Armani is one of those grossly over-educated individuals who prompt you to remind yourself of just how little you know about most things. Infuriatingly, she is incredibly sweet, and crazy talented. Not surprisingly, as a jealous bunch, we can’t stand her. But you know what they say about your enemies….keep em close!
Armani’s sweetness worked out to all or our advantages as we now have her on board to contribute to the blog! Armani’s hairdressing expertise and general life advice has been informed by her hairline growth patterns and fringe necessitations. For those of you who are after some much needed laughter, clever tips on workplace interaction or simply to enjoy a great writer at her most natural, check out Mani’s posts by searching #armani.