At 19, Jill had her whole life to look forward to. She had recently started her first full time job in a busy office in the busy business district, and had a close circle of friends. What's more, her model good looks turned heads wherever she went. However, her hair was literally her 'crowning glory'. Her straight blond locks, which she had been growing since she was 12, now hung just below her waist. Nevertheless, she couldn't help feeling that perhaps it was more problematic than it was worth. This was, of course, a fashion-conscious age, where looks were important and it was important to follow the trend of the moment. Waist length hair was not a fashion accessory.

At the weekend, Jill would always meet up with friends and go to dinner. Comments were always made about her hair: "When are you going to get it cut?" and "Isn't it getting a bit too long?" were commonplace amongst her short-haired companions. As her hair had grown longer, she turned more self-conscious, and began wearing her hair up all the time to defend against what she saw as degrading remarks. Sometimes the comments were more subtle; a friend had mentioned that she was going for a trim, and asked Jill to come along to get her hair 'fashionably styled'. Jill politely declined. For growing her hair long had been an ambition for Jill. At the age of 12, when she had mid-back length hair, her mother had taken her along to the local salon for 'a trim'. The scissor-happy junior hairdresser managed to lop almost all her tresses off, leaving poor Jill with a chin-length bob. The young Jill burst into tears at the sight, and promptly stated that she was never going to get her h air cut again. Seven years later, she had not broken her promise, apart from the odd visit to get her split ends trimmed.

However, Jill's career was about to take a different route. Travelling home on the subway one evening, her hair tightly clasped into a bun, a young man approached her.

"Excuse me," he exclaimed, in a French, slightly effeminate, voice. "I work for Large!, a prominent modelling agency."

Jill stared at the guy. Was he fooling her to get a date? She had heard similar chat-up lines in the various clubs around town. "Yeah?" she enquired, nervously.

"Well, I couldn't help noticing how beautiful you were. Listen, here's my card. We are auditioning for models on Saturday morning at 11am. Come along!"

With that, the guy handed Jill his card, and got off at the next stop. Jill sat back in her seat, wondering. Was this for real? Heck, she decided it was. Her friends had always commented on her model looks - she was going to go along on Saturday.

That evening, when Jill arrived home, she ran upstairs to the bathroom. As she looked in the mirror, she carefully removed the single pin holding her hair up and let it fall down her back. As she did so, she pouted and posed in front of the mirror, giggling at the 'model' in front of her. She quickly brushed her hair and got ready for bed.

Saturday morning could not come soon enough. She awoke at 7am, very excitedly. "What should I wear?" she pondered, looking through her wardrobe. As for her hair, she had already decided. She was going to cover it up with a hat, and take it off at some point in the interview to impress the agency. For the next half an hour, Jill carefully tucked her long hair under an old hat which belonged to her mother. It was no easy task - strands kept falling out either behind her or in front of her face, which meant she had to start all over again. Eventually she managed to tuck all her hair in. She hoped that it wasn't a windy day, otherwise the look would be spoiled!

Jill made her way to the venue by car. Walking inside, she noticed that most of the other potential models were similarly dressed, but had short, often very curly, hair. Jill sighed, and felt confident that she looked different. Her hat turned a few heads, and a few whispers were said. Jill thought she heard one young lady say that she could be bald!

One by one, each girl was called in to the large room where the interviews were taking place. Eventually, Jill was called in. She nervously walked over, and sat down in a small chair in the middle of the floor. The two 'judges', one of whom was the man who approached her on the subway, were sitting some ten metres away behind a table, writing copious notes on their notebooks. The other was a lady in her thirties with shoulder length permed hair, a quite fashionable style at the time. The man recognised her instantly.

"Aahh!" he gasped, "You are the young lady from the subway. I'm glad you could make it."

"No problem!" replied Jill.

The two judges whispered at each other, before Jean, the male judge, and Diane, the female, began to talk about what was involved.

"Basically," Jean explained, "We are looking for catalogue models, you know, clothing etcetera."

"Yeah," Diane butted in, "so we are looking for highly fashionable young women to fulfil these roles."

"Well, that's me!" laughed Jill. Both judges began laughing at this statement. Jill sat back in her seat, confident that she had won them over. She began to think about modelling contracts, the money, glorious beaches, anything but that dull office.

"To be honest," Jean explained, "I liked you the moment I saw you. You are very beautiful. Much better-looking than some of the girls we've seen today. I think you can make it."

Jill smiled. "Thanks!" she replied. All three looked at each other smiling.

"One thing though," enquired Diane, "Could you take off your hat? It hides your face a little."

With that, Jill saw her chance to impress the judges even further. She lent slightly forward in her chair and put her left hand on the back of her hat. She removed the hat, allowing her hair to fall in front of her like a curtain. She then used her right arm to push her hair back over her head. What an effect! Surely that would impress the two judges. She sat upright in her chair and adjusted her hair before smiling at the two figures in front of her.

However, they were not smiling back. The pair sat stony-faced, before facing each other and whispering. They appeared to have a short conversation. Jill sat anxiously in her seat. Eventually, Diane turned round to face her and smiled.

"Um... if we were to offer you a contract, would you get... a trim?" enquired Diane.

"Oh no!" replied Jill, confidently, "I've been growing this since the age of 12. I think it looks great, don't you?"

"Um... quite good..." commented Jean. "Well, thanks for coming in... we'll be in touch."

Jill got up and left, confidently. She knew that the 'letting the hair down' action would have gained her some points. Who else in that room could have done the same with their short bobs and curly perms?

Over the next few days, Jill kept checking her mail or waiting on the telephone call, but nothing seemed to be happening. After two weeks, however, Jill decided to phone up the agency. She took Jeans card from her handbag and dialled the number. She asked to speak to Jean.

"Yeah, this is Jean speaking," came the curt reply.

"Oh, hi Jean, this is Jill!" replied Jill.

"Who?" asked Jean, slightly pretentiously.

"Jill... the girl from the subway... I auditioned for you a few weeks ago?"

"Oh, er, yes." Replied Jean.

"I was just wondering if I had made the second stage for the catalogue?" enquired Jill.

"Um, unfortunately not," replied Jean, "but thank you for your time."

Jills heart dropped. She almost felt like crying.

"Oh," she replied, "Erm... can I possibly ask why I didn't make it?"

"Well," replied Jean, "it's... really down to your hair."

"My hair?" enquired Jill.

"Yeah. Look, it's just not fashionable to have long hair any more. It looks out of date. Too hippy. Too 1970s man!"

Jill put the phone down, and sat down in her chair. She began to cry - how could anyone be so cruel? Her friends had always suggested it, but never had anyone been so up front. She felt worthless and unloved.

That evening, Jill walked into her bedroom. She sat down at her dressing table in front of her mirror. She took out the pin holding her bun in place and shook her hair behind her. Then she picked up a band which was sitting on the table and put her hair in a ponytail. She sat forward in her chair, and brought her ponytail in front of her, so that it hung over her left shoulder. It was now or never, she thought. Opening a drawer, she lifted out a pair of scissors.

"Why can't people just take me as I am?" she thought. She lifted the scissors up to her ponytail. But wait a second - why COULDN'T people take her as she was? She LOVED her long hair. If nobody else did, it was THEIR problem. It wasn't fashionable, nor was it stylish, but she loved it long and straight. "That's it!" she thought. She was going to grow her hair even longer. With that, she put the scissors back in the drawer and dived onto her bed. She removed the band from her hair, and began jumping up and down on her bed, flinging her hair about, throwing it backwards and forwards until her neck hurt. She then sat back on her bed, throwing her hair back over her head. She loved the sensation of all that hair cocooning her body. She had decided never to even CONSIDER cutting it, for anyone!

As the months went by, she stopped wearing her hair up, even if it was slightly uncomfortable. It took a while for her friends and work colleagues (who began by staring at her) to get used to it, particularly as it was now approaching her knees. However, despite her disappointment, Jill had not given up hope of being a model, even if it appeared a cut-throat industry.

A year after her first modelling failure, Jill was once again sitting on the subway. A strangely familiar figure got on at the stop after hers and sat in front of her. As she looked at him, she recognised him as Jean from the modelling agency.

"Wow! Jill!" gasped Jean.

"Oh, hi," replied Jill. At that moment, used her right hand to brush a few strands of hair behind her right ear.

"Listen," asked Jean, "Can we get off at the next stop and talk? There's a little café nearby." "Oh, okay," replied Jill.

At the next stop, both got off the train. Jean commented her on her hair.

"It's much longer than last time, isn't it?" he questioned.

"Yeah, it's never been cut since," replied Jill, "and it never will be!" she added, almost unequivocally.

They both entered the café and sat down. "Listen Jill," Jean sighed, "I've been looking for you for a while."

"Oh?" replied Jill.

"Yeah. You see, long hair is very fashionable now..."

"Yeah. Well?" replied Jill. She didn't like to see her hair as a fashion statement, but was interested to listen further.

"Um, I'd like to have you on our books."

Jill sat back in her seat again thinking. After all, she had stated some time before on that fateful night when she had almost cut off all her hair that she hated the way she had been treated. Nevertheless, she still harboured dreams of becoming a model. She smiled at Jean.

"OK. But I don't want to get my hair cut," she stated unequivocally.

"No problem!" replied Jean, "In fact, we have been approached by a shampoo company. How would you like to do a shampoo commercial?"

Jill couldn't believe her luck. She agreed, and signed a contract with Large!. She was then told that the commercial would feature both on television, and stills would appear in fashion magazines and newspapers.

The shoot was a complete success. Over the next few months, Jill began to get known as the 'Shampoo Girl', appearing on talk shows and in fashion magazines. She was highly in demand, enough to give up her boring job at the office. Talk show hosts would clamour to get her on to their shows to talk about her hair, and she received fan letters almost every day. Jill was enjoying all the attention. All her friends began to grow their hair long and straight, as did the majority of the female population. She felt a bit of a trend-setter!

Jill did almost ten television commercials for the shampoo over the next two years. By that stage, her hair was down to her feet. For the first time in her life, she felt absolutely great about the way she looked, and loved the attention. She loved the way stylists would put her hair in several styles she never thought possible. But then came the bombshell.

Jean phoned early one Friday morning.

"I've got bad news," he sighed, "the shampoo company do not want to renew your contract."

"Why?" enquired Jill.

"Well, long hair just isn't fashionable any more. And I have been told that unless you get your hair cut in a more fashionable style, work could dry up for you."

Jill was furious. She wanted to scream at Jean down the phone. Was this the same man who had commented on her beautiful locks two years earlier? She was a trend-setter; everybody had long hair now.

Sadly, however, she was wrong. As she went to meet modelling friends that afternoon, she finally noticed that most of them had had their waist length locks cut short once again. Walking down the street, she noticed that many of the young girls who possibly had long hair at one stage were sporting shoulder length, or even shorter, bobs.

Jill sighed. She couldn't face the fact that her modelling career may be over. A younger, shorter haired model had replaced her on the shampoo commercials and was getting a lot of attention. Was it time to cut her hair?

The following Saturday, Jill walked into her local salon. The girl behind the counter immediately recognised her.

"Hey, aren't you 'Shampoo Girl?'" she enquired.

"Yeah, that's right," replied Jill.

"It's about time you got a trim!" laughed the stylist. "I used to have waist length hair, but I got it cut when it became too unfashionable. Now that it's out of fashion, you should do the same."

Jill noticed the stylists' hair. It was very short and spiky. What a shame that she had to lose that hair just as a fashion statement, she thought. Nevertheless, fashion dictated what people thought of you.

"You know, you're absolutely right!" replied Jill, "I want a chin length permed bob!"

With that, she sat back in the stylists' chair to have her hair washed and cut. She began to think back to her days as a 12 year old. That bob wasn't too bad, she thought; at least it would be nice and easy to handle.

Jill was taken over to the chair in front of the mirror, her wet hair trailing behind her on the floor. She sat down in front of the mirror. The stylist took all her hair and let it down behind the chair. She picked up a pair of scissors.

"Now, are you absolutely sure?" asked the stylist.

"Absolutely!" replied Jill. It was now or never. Just then, the stylist lifted the scissors to the back of Jills' head.

"Wait!" Jill cried. She had a flashback to that night two years ago when she had almost cut her hair. Was she doing the right thing, she thought? Why was she getting her hair cut to please other people or for some sort of fashion statement? She got up from her chair.

"Look, I'm sorry!" she exclaimed to the shocked stylist, "I can't go through with this!"

With that, she threw thirty dollars on the table. "That's for the shampoo, and any trouble I have caused!" she cried.

Jill ran out of the salon, her hair still soaking and trailing behind her. The stylist and some customers stood shocked in the salon. One long haired woman also got up and left!

When Jill arrived home, she sat down and considered how fortunate she was. Why did she have to cut her hair to please other people? She had grown her hair to be different, not to follow everyone else. She tossed her hair forward and began brushing out her wet hair. She marvelled at how wonderful it felt. Fashion sucked, she had decided. It was back to an office job for her. She may not be pampered by pretentious 'stylists' in that profession, but at least she had some self-respect, and a look that SHE liked.

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