Imagine, if you will, that you woke up one morning and your hair was green. Not revoltingly fluorescent green, just a dark greenish glow. You might be slightly concerned; why has your hair decided overnight that instead of a nice, safe colour such as blonde or brown it would like, from now on, to be green.
You’d be slightly concerned, but you’d get over it pretty quickly because there’s not a lot you can do about it right now, and you’re late for work anyway.
Work? Yes. You have taken a Christmas job in a clothes shop. Why not?
So, you rock up to work and start the Very Important Job of putting all the shoes on the shop floor in size order. Then you fold a few cashmere jumpers, get screamed at for folding cashmere, spend about three hours unfolding because being screamed at is bad for your nerves and makes you unaccountably slow, then use some wrapping paper to play hopscotch with a passing child.
It sounds wonderfully easy and nice and other such benign words that mean you’re not exactly imploding with excitement, but the days will pass harmlessly enough, and there’ll be some money in the bank at the weekend.
Except… The hair thing.
It’s not even that noticeable. It’s not as if every single person who walks past suddenly drops their shopping and their jaw on the floor, horrified by the freakish sight before them. In fact, nobody’s done that all day, except that poor woman who paid full price for some oddly creased cashmere.
So, the customers aren’t noticing your hair. If they are they really don’t care. Unfortunately, the people you work with…. They’ve noticed. And they are Intrigued. So, you walk around the shop floor, doing what you are supposed to do (mostly), and you quickly realise that every five minutes a different member of staff will scamper up and Engage You In Conversation. Which is a bit weird, but not that annoying, until you realise that you are having the exact same conversation with them all. The theme remains constant; your hair.
What’s wrong with it?
How long has it been like that?
How on earth did that happen?
Can’t anyone do anything about it?
Do you want someone to do something about it?
You don’t like it though, do you?
Does it stop you doing things?
It’s not nice, is it?
Are your family/partner/children/dogs/paperboys the same?
Can you still read/write/put your pants on by yourself?
And it’s really all just harmless. Nobody is saying you should be shot; they are just being curious, and maybe want to understand better. So, you smile and reply and smile a bit more, because you want them to be as positive as you are about green hair (it was hard at times, but you’ve come to accept it, even embrace and enjoy it), and you smile, and you encourage them to broaden their mind, so they can better understand the next green-haired person they meet, and you smile some more…
And so it goes. Every day. The days turn into weeks, and you never go more than half an hour without the attentions of a curious scamperer. Often, it’s a previous one coming back for more. And that’s fine, because you have lots of smiles and you don’t mind helping, so you smile and talk and smile and nod and smile and then your teeth start to ache and you think… Actually, I’m bored of this.
You want them to understand. You want them to broaden their minds. You just wish, a little bit, that there were some other green-haired people here so you didn’t have to do it all by yourself, every time… Repeat, rephrase, repeat…. Smile…
Ultimately, you feel a bit guilty. On the one hand you are asking them to accept green hair, but on the other you don’t want to be constantly hounded, questioned, probed and held up as the Guru of All Things Green. And, actually, it’d be quite nice to have a conversation about something else. Because even though you now embrace your green hair, and you can see the positives in being different, sometimes it’d be nice to forget the difference for a while and just be you. Not the green hair with you behind it, just you.
And that’s your story.
Mine? Oh, mine’s nothing like that. I’ve never had green hair in my life.
I am Deaf, though.
Emily Howlett is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer and horsewoman. She describes herself as being “equally fluent in English, BSL and Gibberish, and completely rubbish at French.” Emily can be found all over the place on various escapades, but divides her time between Derby and London. She can often be found behind a large packet of crisps or any halfway decent book, and insists she can still play characters in their early twenties despite having a grey eyebrow hair.
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancyDeafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Rayovac: Never run out of hearing aid batteries again by subscribing!
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out how to add Live Captions to Facebook Live!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people