Helen Mirren's in the pink. We've all been there...

Jane Merrick applauds the Bafta nominee's unqueenly hair colour

Share
Related Topics

When senior (fat, balding) politicians like Keith Vaz feel comfortable tweeting about the Home Secretary's weight, the scales of public life need to be tipped the other way. So let's take a minute to applaud Helen Mirren gliding down the red carpet at the Baftas, her crop of blonde hair dyed the colour of candy floss. Pink hair on a woman over 60 never looked this good on Barbara Cartland.

Mirren said she chose the colour because she saw it on the winner of America's Next Top Model. For a woman of 67 to copy the hairdo of one decades her junior gives hope to us all, in our culture that would rather older ladies wore sensible shoes, played bridge and complained about the buses.

I had pink hair once – when I was 15. Bored with my blonde hair, and desperate to be "different" at my suburban comprehensive school, I dyed it cherry red – or at least that's what the Harmony hair dye packet said. My hair did indeed start off crimson, but over successive washes it faded to bubble-gum pink, later to a pale rose. It took more than six washes to come out, but I became rather attached to the colour, so didn't mind. It was my own way of rebelling, but in a very tame way – my teachers didn't object, in fact one said she rather liked the way it changed colour week after week. Getting a tattoo or a nose-piercing would have been too radical, and not so easily undone. A butterfly on your shoulder or a cat on your ankle is not out in six washes.

The coolest girl in the class, who had never spoken to me before, said she liked my hair. Her own had just gone from orange to midnight blue. The shock of pink turned me, I believed, into a more interesting, less square, version of myself. I was daring, but not dangerous.

Mirren's motivation for dyeing her hair pink may be to get as far away as possible from her alter ego, the Queen, who I'm pretty certain has never waited for a bus, prefers jigsaws, and wears court shoes. Mirren's rebellion is tame, inoffensive, and rather fetching in February. Daring, but not dangerous.

Above all, Mirren has reminded us that at 16, 40, or 67, pink hair is a liberating change of gear, an opportunity to shake off an association with another person, be it the Queen or a teenage girl quietly (and tamely) protesting against her middle-class life. Since my twenties, my hair has barely changed from a straight, layered shoulder length cut. I have become less radical with age, keen to show that a woman should be defined by more than just her hair, but ultimately abiding by the conformity of the workplace. It is unlikely I would have passed a job interview with pink hair.

Mirren, now defined by her Oscar-winning performance of the Queen, and her reprisal of the monarch in The Audience, can dye her hair whatever colour she wants. Maybe this frees women of all ages to consider pink hair.

Perhaps I should head to Boots in pursuit of a new hair colour – as long as it's six washes out. Better still, Theresa May should dye her hair pink too. That would give Keith Vaz something to tweet about.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Offshore Wind Project Engineer

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Subsea Proposals Engineer

£50000 - £55000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Maintenance Agreement Manager – Subsea Cables

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Geotechnical Director of Engineering

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The new lobby entrance to the Hotel Majestic  

Errors and omissions: There’s strength in numbers – as long as they agree

Guy Keleny
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices