Because I’m worth it

by Gill Hoffs


“I get through a litre a week, so the scent and results are both very important to me. I’d tried every make on the market, just trying to keep it manageable; now I’ve found something that works, I just want to shout about it. Everybody deserves something special in their lives. For me, it’s the new Sinsuals range from Hairol.”

I smiled, showing the whites of my eyes and teeth, as if that’s what I was being paid to flaunt instead of the hell of my hair.

“That’s a wrap, Rapunzel.”

God help me, he sniggered. Again. He does that with every take. I’d like to take a lock and strangle him, but no, I need the work. It’s not just the hair on my head that grows thick and long. My waxer sets aside a day a week for my legs, pits and bikini line. Says I’ve paid for her conservatory and her son’s Uni tuition with the rips and pulls and pain. Go me!

Yes, go.

Sometimes in the dark of the night, nothing on the pillow beside me except swathes of hair, I check my breasts and wish for a lump, for puckering, for pain that might mean chemo and a guiltless end to the horror of my hair. Or I think of alopecia, and dream of shining scalps and exposed napes of necks.

Every so often, I insist on cutting it. It’s all over the papers, every time, the horror of it! Like it matters. I donate it. There are bald women everywhere, perhaps some blokes too, wearing my hair in place of their own. They’re welcome to it. Fucking follicles.

Even my mum, in jail; I go every Christmas, every parole hearing. She’s not getting out; they don’t trust her not to lock up some other poor kid. When I sit there, talking to her in the visiting room, she can’t help but look at it. The hair. Sometimes I see her snake her hand out of sight and I know, somewhere under the table, she’s stroking one of the plaits coiled at our feet. For they are what she loves. She’d brush every lock a hundred times a night, but never kiss a bumped knee or bedtime cheek.

All folks see are my dead cells, long blonde strings of them. They don’t give a fig about me. They don’t see the weight of it, the way it drags me down, gives me headaches, makes me a freak. My worth measured in feet and inches of follicular fantasy, by every man, woman and child. It’s just dead cells they worship. Not me.

And I’ve had it. I’m done.

It’s easy to find my way back to the old tower, gawpers have worn a trail, and though it’s locked, I have a key. Throwing plaits over the rafters in my old room, I loop a special thin one round and round my throat. Tight. Walk out the window.

They want dead cells? They can have me.






Gill Hoffs lives on the Ayrshire coast with her husband and son. Her fiction and nonfiction has won several prizes and is available widely online and in print, including The Lost Children Charity Anthology and Pure Slush’s Slut. Visit her at  


6 thoughts on “Because I’m worth it

  1. I want to see more fairy tale characters darkly retold like this. Brilliance. And I’m not just saying that because I feel strongly about hair.

    • Gill Hoffs says:

      Thank you! Hair, and the human attitude toward it, fascinates me. Love the picture on your blog! Reminds me of seaweed at low tide, draped over a harbour wall. Lovely.

  2. Mike Joyce says:

    This was fantastic; I loved the concept and I loved the medical analogy to the dead cells, it really drew me in! I really liked the voice, it fit very naturally into the character. Great one, Gill!

    • Gill Hoffs says:

      My degree covered English Literature, Biology, and Psychology – a mixed trio, but I’m drawn to all three, so it made sense at the time. I think that comes across in my writing. Thank you so much for your kind comments and for reposting this, too – much appreciated!

  3. josephclifford says:

    Well done. I think Marcus is right. You write an entire collection like that, deranged fairy tales.

  4. Gill Hoffs says:

    Thank you! Yes, I’d love to do that at some point. Rapunzel, The Goose Girl, Jack the Giant Killer with his cat tail belt, Babes in the Wood, Rumpelstiltskin, and my favourite, the supremely grisly Bluebeard. Probably Thumbelina, too. The Juniper Tree… maybe. The Elves and the Shoemaker – okay, I’m getting carried away here with a blast from the past. Back to work!

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