I would stand in the front of the mirror and hate what I saw. A dark face, round nose and wide lips framed by lots of woolly hair. My foster mum said I was a princess. So I spent years looking for a princess like me to show up on the telly.
She never did.
Then I started wishing I looked like Susan. Can you imagine that? She had big blue eyes like the doll I had when I was a baby and like a baby she could open and close her eyes and make whining noises which most boys seemed to like listening to. She had long blonde hair which she liked to flick in everyone’s face so I got my black cardigan, stuck it on my head and swished my head around until I felt a bit sick.
Mum saw me and laughed.
Dizzy, I tore the stupid thing off my head. I wish I had long hair like yours.
She smiled. You look lovely. Why do you think people go on holidays? So they can look just like you.
I wasn’t convinced. Nobody stared at you when you had a tan that faded by autumn. I was a little colored girl every day of the year.
I kept on searching and one evening I saw the Supremes on Top of the Pops. They were beautiful, sophisticated and could sing.
They looked different but it was a good different.
They looked like my kind of princess.
My hair was short and grew in clumps (because Mum couldn’t do a thing with it) it grew wild like the back of our neighbours garden. I had to wait for my mother’s fortnightly visits with The Comb. She would come down from London on the train with this comb neatly tucked away in her bag.
This iron implement was used to coax my curls into lying smoothly across my scalp but as they couldn’t betray their heritage, they would stand up at a degree of approximately 90 degrees every time.
One day while watching Tops of the Pops I blurted out that I wanted to have long hair like the Supremes.
My Mother informed me that she would have to stretch it with a hot comb in order to get it straightened and that it might hurt.
I wanted to know if the Supremes went through all that aggro.
They are wearing wigs. Mother informed.
It wasn’t fair. After all Mother wore a wig like the Supremes which meant that she did not have to go through all this pain to look like a Princess.
I was too young to afford to buy a wig.