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  • 8 years old: my head is squashed into my mother's crotch as she plaits my unruly, springy afroey curls into neat canerows. After being filled with the frustration of not being able to move, the pain of the hair being rhythmically brushed and unforgivably yanked and the tightness of the plaits against the scalp, finally, the last curl is controlled and it's time to get up. Eyes water, a run for freedom; break free. Until the next time.

    11 years old: Secondary School, Year 7. Hair styles are imperative for popularity and coolness. The hair is slicked back, the thick curls tied into high and tight pony tail and wrapped with a red or black and white bandana. A cow lick of curls swept down the side of the face. Flyness preserved in gel.

    15 years old: Secondary School, Year 11. Freestyle: big bushy curls. The age of the Spice Girls; Mel B had nothing. Dip-dyed blonde at the edges (Neneh Cherry) or streaked, tiger-like for raves (courtesy of trainee hairdresser Tammy D). The hair was beginning to come of age. To become a part of me.

    17 years old: College. Hair by Donna Summer. Flares and the revival of the Festival culture. Sunflower earrings, Big Bushy hair, the bigger, the better. It drew crowds, was coveted. Queen of the corkscrewed afro. " Do you know Louisa Bello?" " Hmm, no who?" "You know, the mixed-race girl with the wicked curly hair...." " ahh yeah I know her...!"

    Who belonged to whom?

    20- 28 years old: London, Farnham, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, De Haag, San Giustino, Arezzo... a trail of blocked drains in rented accommodations, fussing and fighting, up, down, up,and down. The decade of the Big Hair World Tour...blurred by the wonders of the world, forgotten behind protection or scorched by the sun.

    29 years old: London. Hair vs Me. The hair, finally, is cast out; unwanted, despised, unloved and contained beneath colourful wraps and scarves and hats and caps...Disowned.

    33 years old: pre- Ecuador, London: exercising with a friend.. "Lou, what's that, oh my God!" "What is it?" "You have a bald patch..." " What the fuck? Show me, take a photo on your i-phone!"
    "Holy Shit..."

    33 years old: Ecuador, Peru. I have arrived, refreshed, renewed, re-spirited. The Material Years take hold: multitudes of colour, patterns and styles. The head-wraps become regal, hippy, practical, 1940s, professional, Madonnaesque. The hair makes brief and low key visits but shows no intention of returning for good.

    35: London: Me. I have arrived to me, finally. I think.
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