I’ve spoken before about my fascination with the pink-haired girl. D’Arcy from The Smashing Pumpkins, Gwen Stefani, Charlotte Free and Grimes. It has always been a dream of mine to go full candy floss to escape the reality of my mousey brown locks, but I’m not a bass player in a grunge band, I’m a married, mum of two. I push a Bugaboo Bee, I drive a Vauxhall Zafira, I shop with Ocado. And although I’m a fairly cool graphic designer (I hope!) I’m 34, so I’m entering The Boden Years. I should be buying ‘knits that wash well’ and Breton shirts. I should have found my inner rock chick by now and cast her off long ago.

I wanted to do it but I was conflicted. What if people thought I looked like a dick? What if I thought I looked like a dick? Is this the sign of the arse-end of a trend – when suburban mums start to do it? I needed imaginary celebrity guidance. If I bumped into Gwen Stefani at Herne Hill farmers’ market and asked her opinion what would she say? She’d say: ”Stop being a pussy and be the hot mama you want to be!” So I did it. And it looks effing awesome.


I bought the colour from Bleach London (they sell their colours online at Boots) I went for a combination of The Big Pink and Awkward Peach. My hair had to be bleached first to a hideous yellow colour, then dyed pink on top. The whole process took about three hours.
Instead of going to an expensive specialist salon, I asked my usual hairdresser to dye it. He was thrilled to have a challenge, I got my son’s hair cut at the same time and we both got a lollipop so everyone was happy.
I quickly figured that there are a few rules to owning pink hair without looking like a loser. It’s a slippery slope to the crazy cat lady of my future or candy raver of my past.
  • I can no longer wear anything that vaguely resembles rave gear. Crazy leggings, plastic jewellery and backpacks have to go.
  • I can’t blow-dry it dead straight. It looks like a wig and I feel like a bad Katy Perry strippergram.
  • I can no longer wear red. Or orange. Or yellow. But I’m okay with that. I now wear a lot of black and surprisingly a lot of really plain clothes because my hair is crazy enough to avoid looking boring.
  • I ditched my vintage glasses for fear of looking like the Brummie woman from the Hotels4U ad.


Then there are the practicalities of having pink hair:
  • The bleaching process has dried out my hair (although not as much as I thought it would) so I need to use a leave-in conditioner overnight once a fortnight.
  • I have to dye it myself every two weeks, and go to the hairdresser to get my roots done every six weeks.
  • I now wash my hair every four days to save the colour from fading too quickly. Dry shampoo is my new best friend.
  • I now own a pink towel and pink pillow cases.
But there was one side effect I wasn’t expecting. Total strangers have started to talk to me. An old lady stopped me in the street to tell me she loved the colour, but people don’t just talk to me about my hair. A goth outside the Tube offered me her travel card. An old Ugandan bloke told me his life story. Young black mums now smile at me and groups of hoodies move to let me past without me having to ask.
I realise now how unapproachable the white, middle-class yummy mummy seems to everyone else in society. Something about being bold enough to dye my hair pink rattles people. When I team it with a Breton top and some pearl earrings, no one knows where to place me, but everyone accepts me. And I kind of like that.
So although I didn’t find my inner rock chick, my pink hair turned out to be the perfect leveller and makes my journeys through South London a little bit brighter. I’m so glad I bumped into imaginary Gwen Stefani.

Photography (Emma’s portrait): Dee Ramadan