Writer Janina Matthewson recalls her relationship with the most coveted hairstyle of the nineties…
Summer drew to a close. The new school year approached. I, a new teenager embarking on that mysterious era known as “high school,” was getting my first real haircut.
I’d had my hair cut before, obviously, but it had always been a trim of the two existing lengths: “long” and “fringe,” so I didn’t resemble a child of the brethren. But now it was to be different. I had chosen a “style.” I had chosen “The Rachel.”
Not since Farrah Fawcett had a hairstyle been so universally desired, and nothing’s matched it since. Jennifer Aniston’s hair for the first season of Friends was where the proverbial “it” was at, and I wanted it all over my head.
Why It Was A Bad Idea For Me To Get The Rachel:
Reason One: I come from a Large Family and my parents had government jobs. That meant we were bulk buy, home brand, budget option people.
Reason Two: I have wildly precocious hair. It’s unpredictable, it gets everywhere, it’s practically sentient. In all my life it’s been successfully blow dried twice; if I go to a costume party all I have to do to it is nothing, and I’ll be a raven haired Hermione.
So I turned up at Mr Snips to get my ten dollar haircut from the latest graduate of the hairdressing school Old Man McCutty runs out of his basement, a beam just all over my face. “I’d like The Rachel,” I said, blithely. The hairdresser blinked. Her scissors wobbled. She hadn’t heard of the most popular haircut in twenty years.
Even then, I was unafraid. I was young, I was optimistic, I’d never been burned.
I explained the haircut carefully, and she said she could do it. I sat in the chair, watching ribbons of hair fall away, revelling in the new lightness, feeling the ends swish against my neck.
It wasn’t until I was home that I really took it in.
My first “layered” haircut had precisely two layers: a quite thin one, that stopped just short of my shoulders, and a very thick one, at the bottom of my ears.
My head looked like a mushroom cloud. Or indeed, like a mushroom.
Obviously I cried.
We went back, explained that it was all wrong, and they did their best to fix it.
They couldn’t, obviously, it was a complete disaster, but they tried.
And they gave me a mullet.
Follow Janina on Twitter @J9London