Jo Stanley: The shock reaction when I bleached my hair white


I used to carry my hair around in a box. Just some extra pieces that I wore, like Bert Newton, whenever I did telly or a red-carpet event. A clever make-up artist would magically pin it in to make my hair look thick and luscious, because my own hair is baby-fine and sits on my head like a lank helmet.

I had short hair for most of my life. As a 10-year-old, I had Princess Diana’s ‘do. In my 20s, I had a crew cut to match my anti-establishment, feminist, arty-party ways. But when I hit my 30s, an ambition to work in television – and its unspoken understanding of what women were supposed to look like – convinced me to grow my hair long. No one ever told me this, but conventions of femininity kind of got in my head and hijacked my look. It was ridiculous. I spent a decade back-combing and teasing, jumping on every supposedly miracle-working contraption – including a crimping iron that made me look like I’d just woken up from 1984 – all for an average result at best. It hurts to think of the hours I wasted trying to get “body” – I could have done a PhD on the actual body.

And then, two months ago, I did something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts. I bleached my hair white (see below). I’m a hybrid of Billy Idol, Pink and a Collingwood footballer. And now, instead of brave, according to the comments on social media, I’m “shocking”, “outrageous” and “hideous”. Or, if the commenter is ruder, I get “yuck”, “disgusting” and “sorry, but you look more like a man”. The last one particularly makes me laugh. Firstly, why does blonde equal bloke? And secondly, if you were sorry, you wouldn’t say what you said, would you? Fortunately, I find all that online noise funny, not hurtful. Although I do wonder, who says that? It makes me think of a crazy person yelling randomly on a bus.




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