by NATALIA JASTRZAB
I spent the first seventeen years of my life dressed and groomed immaculately. And I mean IMMACULATELY. I went to school, I went to ballet class, I went to play at friend’s houses looking like I’d just stepped out of the pages of an exceptionally glossy magazine about Perfect Children. Never was there a hair out of place or a shirt untucked.
It was partly the result of living with my grandmother, who still seems to get heart palpitations every time she imagines me looking less than presentable. In her ideal world she would be allowed to actually chase me around, smoothing down the hair I’ve perfectly teased and backcombed into a messy ponytail for my Saturday night out.
My good grooming was also partly due to attending a strict Catholic all girls school, where any kind of self-expression in the form of jewellery, nail polish or elaborate hairstyles was strictly discouraged and policed.
And so I spent my formative years with my hair in two neat braids, or in a nicely brushed ponytail. I never bought a bottle of nail polish and I didn’t even look at jewellery unless it was school formal season. When a non-approved bracelet was cause for several detentions, it really wasn’t worth the risk.
But underneath my well-groomed exterior, I secretly pined for the glamorous world of mess and rebellion. I always wanted to go to Bali and come back with my hair braided and beaded like the girls next door. I always wanted to dye sections of my hair pink and rock it like one woman at my bus stop. In my world of black school shoes and mossy green blazers, colourful was a whole land of fun I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
When I finally started university, it took me a really long time to get over the novelty of the idea that I could wear WHATEVER I wanted and NOBODY cared. I dyed the ends of my hair pink and purple and curled it so that it sat around my shoulders in a gorgeous wave of colour. I got hair feathers the minute that they were released in hair salons in Sydney. I started off with pink feathers but I think I’m going to go back and get something even more extreme next time. Maybe neon beads, considering that neon is trend of the moment.
There was one day at uni that I decided to be a punk rocker. I wore my skinny jeans, my brother’s oversized t-shirt, black wristbands and eyeliner. The next day, I turned up in a bright red tutu skirt with white converse and opaque tights. I loved the fun, I loved the freedom, I loved the creativity, and I loved wearing bright blue eyeliner and glitter on my cheeks whenever I felt like it. And quite possibly, I looked like I’d just escaped from the lunatic asylum and gone on a rampage through Supre with some bikers.
These days, I have a lot less time on my hands during the week and so I keep it pretty basic. But my happy place is my bathroom on a Saturday night, with the music blasting, my curling iron heating up and my make-up cabinet open. I pull out the glitter hairspray and the hair bobbles and think about that poor twelve-year-old in the boring ponytail and minimal jewellery collection. That girl is really, really far away now.
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