New feature: A streamlined new me

// 13 November 2009

Laura Thomas talks through her experience going from red mane to shaved head

It was 1997, and I was seven years old; my friend and I were sat in her lounge practising our times tables and discussing the Spice Girls. We were deciding which group members were most like our friends and, as always, because of my red hair I was Gerri and, because of her curly hair, she was Mel B.

“I’m so jealous of your hair, I think its so pretty… mine’s just boring and brown,” she said and smiled at me, dreamily surveying my fringed bob cut.

In my primary school days, I had come to the conclusion that I loved my hair, because everyone else seemed to, and my friend’s faces were not framed by such distinctive manes.

Fast forward to 2003, when I was 13-years-old; the same friend and I were stood beside one another drying our hands in the toilets of a village hall, which was the venue for her 13th birthday disco. She had changed schools soon after that Spice Girls discussion and we’d drifted apart as friends and become different people. She was popular with her classmates, which is so important for 13-year-old girls, straightened her beautiful cherubic curls, wore makeup and kissed boys; to put things in perspective, I was bullied and enjoyed talking about my love for platform donning face-painted stadium rockers KISS… occasionally with boys.

This childhood friend and I had become polar opposites in six years, which was expressed perfectly in the image of us in the hall’s toilets, a slender designer clothes wearing blonde standing betweenn us, looking down her nose at my tiny boyish frame. My childhood friend ignored me and, admiring her reflection, asked her newer friend whether she “looked ginger”. My heart sank with the heavy disgusted tone of her voice, it was something I had become used to, but sounded even worse from the mouth of a girl who’d once been “so jealous” of my hair. They went on to cackle to themselves dropping various ginger-related insults, which I have and still do hear a million times.

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