My mother never truly cut my hair for the first seven years of my life. I don’t think she could bear the thought of it. Before puberty, until I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, my hair was platinum blonde. When I was little, under age eight, it ended in ringlets. I was a pretty child: long white-blonde curls, big blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and porcelain skin. My hair has started to curl again and it’s still rather blonde for someone as old as I am, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a tow-head ever again.
When I was very small, probably about three years old, I was at a public pool, long pale hair flowing, brown and tan from the southern summer sun. I was a weird-looking kid in the summer. I looked like a photo negative of a person, with toffee brown skin and white hair, and no visible eyebrows.
A strange old lady came up behind me and ran her fingers through my hair. This, by the way, was not an uncommon occurrence in my childhood. People see something strange and/or beautiful and they forget there are rules. I turned to the violator and said, “My hair is not a toy.” And, flicking it behind my shoulder in that clumsy way small children move because they haven’t had as much practice moving as adults have, I turned my back on her and walked away.