Choose your look. All illustrations by Dorothy Woodend who is the culture editor of

For many people in the midst of a global catastrophe, hair has become a kind of coping mechanism.

It’s kind of weird, but I get it. In times of stress or strain, I often say to my sister, “Let’s talk about hair.” And then we do.

Many happy hours have been spent discussing what to do with our respective manes. Where is someone who can deal with curls? Should she go blonder? Is grey hair cool now? And so on and so forth.

Nothing else can take your mind off major stuff like the stuff on top of your head. (And sometimes on your back and neck.)

In celebration of all that it does for us, offering its preoccupying, maddening strands to distract from other more complex issues, let’s talk some hair.

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Get experimental

If ever there was a time to experiment with your look, it’s now. You can get seriously creative. Hair is sculptural stuff — pliable, mouldable material that can be shaped into all kinds of different things.

Whether you choose to go full Henry Moore or more Giacometti or even Louise Bourgeois, who wouldn’t want to look like they had a giant spider atop their pate?

Since not many people will see you for a bit, you might take this opportunity to try something truly new. Let your imagination run riot — colours, shapes, and new directions up and out like a cumulus cloud or a volcanic eruption.

If something a bit more not of this earth seems interesting, semi-permanent colours are easy and low commitment. Robin’s egg blue, millennial pink, or Tuscan sunset, the world is your rainbow. Cheer yourself up with some pretty hues.

If you want to go further, you can always break out the hydrogen peroxide and turn the top of your head an odd shade of rusty orange.

Or not. Someone on Twitter recounted the story about standing in the hair aisle at the local drugstore and picking up a bottle of bleach. Another woman, a few feet away, muttered, “Don’t you fucking do it,” earning the permanent gratitude of the first woman. Bleach is only for the brave and/or the already blond.

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The razor’s edge

The rash of people shaving their scalps has resulted in a run on razors. Also, probably a few rashes as well. I have good news and bad. Not everyone suits a bare head.

For all the sexy Telly Savalas-types (ask your grandparents) or more contemporary equivalents (Jason Statham), some people look positively frightening without a good heap of hair to cover up their lumpen skulls and giant moles.

If you choose to go full Joe Rogan (conspiracy theories optional), prepare to invest in some oversize toques or a nice wig. A million Cher impersonators can’t be wrong.

Having tried to talk my son out of the idea of a home perm, I had to break out the big guns and tell him the very sad story about the last time I got a perm. I’ll set the scene.

When I was 11, I had an appendicitis that turned nasty, developing into peritonitis that almost killed me. After a long stay in intensive care, my grandmother decided that a perm would be just the thing to make me feel better.

Because I loved my grandma, we went together and got the biggest old lady perms of all time. I started Grade 7 at a new school with a giant head of hair and the tiniest of shrunken bodies, earning the nickname Pinhead Puss-belly because I’d made the fatal error of telling the kids at my new school about my appendix exploding.

So, the moral of the story is always say “no” to perms. Permanently.

Also, kids are jerks.

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Be a grower, not a shower

Sometimes the tyranny of washing your hair everyday can seem like just that, tyranny! Now that you don’t have to worry about being presentable, you can go for days without washing your hair.

But before the dreadlocks set in or an owl decides to build a nest in there, you should probably get to sudsy times.

For all those who simply can’t be bothered, just leave the damn stuff to do its thing, until its winding its way down to your ankles. Hello lady and lads Godiva! Now all you need is a big white horse and huge sense of self-confidence.

Let it go

The idea that hair has magic powers — think Samson, Rapunzel or Beyoncé — might not be all that far-fetched. Some people believe that our personal history is embedded, intertwined in our hair.

Big life decisions often require big hair cuts. If you want a clean start, you can start by cutting it all off.

When people are freed from lockdown, probably the first place they’ll head is the barber shops and hair salons, demanding all their locks down. Freshly shorn of the weeks spent inside, we can all venture out into the new-do times.

Hair is a great reminder of the impermanence of life. Except for actual perms, whose effects can last forever.  [Tyee]