When people first meet me, they are often disappointed.
‘But you’re Swedish!’ they’ll protest ‘You’re supposed to be tall.’ As a kind of consolation prize, they’ll mutter: ‘At least you’re blonde.’
I’m not really blonde. My hair is a dirty beige, which goes a bit lighter at the ends. These days I will occasionally slathered chemicals onto it to make it brighter. As do a lot of Brits. I don’t claim to know all the reasons why people change the colour of their hair, but I do know that one of them is the simple desire to look, and therefore to try to be a bit different to your normal self. It was the same at the age of fourteen in Sweden. We were a mass of Scandi teenagers, all wearing identical clothes, purchased from one of three shops in town. On top of our heads were identical mops of a uniform colour – roughly three shades of blonde. Which is why we flocked to one of the three shops in search of something that would make us a little different. ‘Do you have any green hair dye?’ I would ask again and again, in vain. Luckily for me, drenching my wiry tresses in Deepest Chestnut resulted in a hue not dissimilar to moss-green. My friends achieved similar results and then, in a further attempt to stand out, we all got daring, short bobs.
‘Look at you.’ Our slightly more fashion forward, (and some may say bitchy) friend said. ‘Now you all look like mushrooms.’ We disagreed. We looked similar, only in that we all looked different. The mushroom effect stayed until I moved to England (see pic under About section). ‘But you’re Swedish!’ My new friends protested. ‘You’re supposed to be tall and blonde’. At this I finally embraced my dirty beige, with a newfound sense of gratitude and pride.