It’s 2001, possibly 2002, and I’m perched on a dining room chair watching Street Mate (which, for all you younger and international readers, was a dating programme hosted by Davina McCall which involved her frantically running around streets in UK cities, matching people up on dates). I watch intently, while my Mam carefully applies a dark-red dye to just the bottom section of my (what was then) highlighted blonde hair. This blonde-on-top-red-below combo was a look I’d spotted on the previous week’s Street Mate. From the moment I saw it, I knew I had to have it. This was before the likes of Christina Aguilera donned a similar look, and months before anyone at my school followed suit. This was me (someone who rarely even tied her hair up in a high ponytail for fear of looking too daring) doing something different. For someone who usually gave far too much consideration to what people thought of her, something had shifted. This was me doing something that I knew would leave my tummy sick with nerves when it came to walking through the school gates the next day…but I did it. And it felt amazing. I felt cool. Awesome. I felt like a trend-setter. And I felt a new wave of confidence – all the things a 14/15-year-old girl wants to feel. I loved my new ‘do’ and no matter what people said – and people did say stuff – I was so enamoured with my blonde and crimson hair that I suddenly found it easy to shrug off any remarks. This was the first time that my hair had boosted my confidence with such vigour, and the first (and most likely the last) time that I strode into school on a morning with the mindset of ‘I don’t give a shit what you think of me, my hair is f***ing awesome’.
Fast forward 16 years and it’s already Amelia’s turn to be in the hot seat. She’d been begging me for weeks, months even, to let her dye her hair and at first, I was reluctant. The over-protective mother who is trying (and failing) to keep her daughter as a child for a little longer wanted to say no, but then it dawned on me that I’m saying no to a lot of Amelia’s requests these days. Turns out being 11 in 2018 has evolved dramatically compared to how I remember it, and we’re yet to agree on what 11-year-olds should or shouldn’t be allowed to do. Starting a new school has been turbulent, so if this hair colour (a hair colour difference so marginal that I doubt anyone but Amelia will notice) will boost her confidence in the same way that my blonde/red combo did back in 2002, then how can I refuse? Besides, isn’t that the real reason we should be changing our hair – not so that others will notice, but so that we can feel extra swishy and confident? Sometimes a new ‘do’ is just what we need.
We once read a children’s book that described how we all have imaginary buckets that can only be filled with acts of kindness, and that every day we should be aiming to fill as many buckets as possible by simply being kind to each other. Be kind, and both yours and their’s will fill up; be unkind, and they will empty. In our house, we’ve adapted this idea to include confidence too. We all have imaginary confidence buckets that we work together as a family to fill and keep topped up. When you’re raising two girls (especially when one of them is entering what will arguably be some of the most challenging years of her life – the teenage years) filling those girls with confidence is paramount. But it doesn’t end there. As parents (and as human beings who do care about what people think and who want to feel good about themselves too), we also need our confidence buckets filling – we can’t run on empty either. So, whether it’s a gentle hug in the morning, a ‘you look nice’ before one of us leaves the house, or a ‘wow, congratulations on those exam results’; as a family, we raise each other up and overflow our buckets with confidence. And it doesn’t just stop in the family. Our confidence is built up of all the small, seemingly insignificant things that happen to us or that we do throughout the day. It’s about taking note of those small daily confidence boosters, in order to really feel them. So, next time you complete a crossword, congratulate yourself on your extensive vocabulary. When your neighbour compliments your new hairstyle, take it! Say thank you, rather than mumbling how you’re not sure and that you never have time to style it. When you run those extra 5 minutes during your evening exercise, be proud! And when your boss congratulates you on your day’s successes, go home and pour yourself a drink of your choice.
Things that have recently filled my confidence bucket:
- Amelia commenting on how ‘cool’ my outfit was at the weekend (getting approval from an 11-year-old when it comes to fashion is kind of a big deal).
- Using Clairol’s Nice’n’Easy’s new permanent hair colour* to cover my greys and to block out any damage to my hair. It added an extra spring (and swish) to my step and made me feel great about myself (hair has the power to do that, you know?).
- Being told by Boy Dom (during a car journey chat about general mundane life stuff) that he loves me. The randomness of it made it so much more touching.
- Penny running out of school, beaming and squeezing me tight, every day.
- Guessing the right answer to a radio phone-in competition. I didn’t answer it on air, just to myself, alone in the car, but it still made me feel pretty proud.
- Being told by four people that they liked my new waterproof jacket.
- My hair deciding to do the perfect beachy wave on a Tuesday morning.
- My new microbladed eyebrows (I probably love them a bit too much).
- Being told by the builders that I make a ‘good cuppa’. Something I’ve been working towards my whole life.
- Receiving positive feedback about my Instagram e-course and seeing the results on student’s feeds.
*If you do plan to use Clairol Nice’n’Easy remember to always do a patch test 48 hours before colouring.
***This post is sponsored by Clairol but all thoughts and extra hair swishes are my own***