The news that perms are once again A Thing (see: Blake Lively, Kylie Minogue) has left me in a state of severe emotional confusion. I have never had a perm in my life, but the very word sends shivers down my spine and causes flashbacks that send me running screaming for the Frizz-Ease.
You see, I was born with naturally thick, curly hair, which was often mistaken for a perm, and my relationship with it has been a tad… fraught, to say the least. The curls (courtesy of my father. THANKS, DAD!) started out blonde and cute, and until the age of around ten I never had a problem with them (although being called "Little Orphan Annie" did get old, fast).
And then came the hairpocalypse. Seemingly overnight my curls became… well, this.
This was not an enviable state of affairs in the late '80s and early '90s. The teasing was mean and relentless, pretty much until I left school. My parents would tell me the kids were just jealous. Literally nobody was jealous. I think that's why they laughed at me, called me Brian May and put dead wasps in my hair.
I can laugh about it now. Just. But the weird thing was that many people ripping the shit out of my hair thought it was a perm. As if I'd skip to the salon every month and say "Give me your finest mockable hairdo, please!"
Life got better when, aged 17, I discovered straightening irons. And better still when I found the Holy Grail that is chemical straightening. My happiest days were spent in the magical salon where I'd REVEL in the smell of rotten eggs and the tingling scalp that meant my curls were being nuked into submission.
Two decades later, I still spend ridiculous amounts of time and money fighting my curls. I live in London but travel to my home town of Sheffield for haircuts, because that's where I found the one genius stylist who understands my hair and doesn't cut it like topiary (Hi, Craig!).
But now that I'm older, wiser and less bothered about looking like everybody else, I have made a grudging sort of peace with my hair. These days I rarely touch my straighteners, preferring a blow-dry with a weapons-grade hairdryer on good days, a quick blast and a lazy ponytail on bad days, and zero effort on off-duty days (when my husband says I look like Terry Fuckwitt from Viz - Google it, he's not wrong).
So I'm viewing the perm's 2016 reboot (and the trend for curls in general) with mixed feelings. The sight of hair on the catwalks and red carpets that isn't ironed to within an inch of its life is refreshing. And I take my hat off (hats and rain are a whole other story) to anyone who rocks a natural curl. But I can't quite bring myself to embrace mine just yet. There's too much emotion wrapped up in those bad boys.
Still, liberation from the hairdryer does sound very tempting. And hell, Brian May is a millionaire rock star who saves badgers. Maybe I've been looking at this ALL wrong…