Ahem: Cheryl Cole’s hair.
(It’s ok, you can squeal now).
Go on! Let it out, sisters! The bounce, the swing, the waves! That texture, that shine! That vague idea that perhaps, if she shakes it at just the right angle, a family of baby bluebirds might fly out singing Love Machine… It’s been over a year now since the nation first took Chezza to our hearts, and the flame doesn’t seem to be dying any time soon. Sure, the combination of cartoon dimples, novelty accent and lilliputian proportions have got her so far, but we all know the true source of adoration lies in the hair.
For it is hair like no other. It is the hair of three women put together. It’s so colossally thick it can muffle out the words “didn’t she once punch that toilet attendant?” with a single almighty swish. Cole has set the bar at an impossible height for hair volume, like Jennifer Aniston did for straightness and Lady Godiva did for nipple coverage. Mere mortals can’t compete – all the backcombing in the world won’t produce her tresses, just a stiff wrist and the urge to go running along a mountain top crying “Mojo, where have you goooooone?”
And why is it so impossible? Come on, we all know. It’s there in teeny letters at the bottom of the screen, covering L’Oréal’s ass for when the lank-locked among us try to sue. “Styled with natural extensions”, says the disclaimer. “Fake!” says the triumphant voice in our heads.
Yes, extensions are everywhere. Once the preserve of Page 3 and Wetherspoons toilet queues (with the kind of brillo pad texture useful for mopping up spilt Malibu later in the evening), fake hair has finally gone legit. And with it has arrived an eternal guessing game – is it? Isn’t it? From Leighton Meester’s tumbling curls (yes) to Lindsay Lohan’s increasingly straggly mane (hell yes) to every America’s Next Top Model contestant (blame Tyra Banks, Queen of the Weave, for believing that a good model should be able to smile with her eyes and polish floors with her hair).
Last week, ShinyStyle revealed that one of Meester’s Gossip Girl colleagues has the most requested style of the year; but after a night of typing “Does Blake Lively wear extensions?? Does she doesshedoesshe?” into Google, the jury is still out. My question is this, though: are they cheating? Would knowing that Blake’s hair isn’t all hers make it less covetable?
The irony of Cheryl’s L’Oréal campaign, of course, is that it doesn’t make you want to buy shampoo at all. It makes you want to buy synthetic clip-ins. Now that even mascara ads tell you they’re using lash extensions, advertising has backfired somewhat. “Heck, we don’t think our product really works either”, they say. “Just cut out the middle man and buy a new face.”
But of all people, I cannot judge – to damn Cole and crew for their hair fakery would be like the pot calling the kettle peroxide. Instead I should sympathise. For however hard these little enhancements work to be accepted by fashion’s elite, there is always a stigma in the everyday world. If I had a pound for every time someone has eyed my bleached hair and said “Do you not think you’d look better with your natural colour? More, y’know, natural?”, I could afford extensions enough to build a border collie Girls Aloud tribute band. “Maybe,” I reply. “But then it wouldn’t look like custard. And where’s the fun in that?”
So I understand extensions. It’s ok Cheryl, I get it. We can’t all have hair that looks like a chestnut duvet, and we don’t all need to – but yours is a world of one-upmanship, and you need that extra boost to stay on top. Just promise me this: if you start getting neck ache, give them a rest for a while. Because you’re worth it.