Beauty of our youth: ‘The Rachel’

By Daisy Buchanan on April 16th, 2013 1 comment

Writer Janina Matthewson recalls her relationship with the most coveted hairstyle of the nineties…

Janina's "Rachel"

Janina’s “Rachel”

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

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