To those who haven’t read them, Abie Longstaff’s stories about Kitty Lacey the Fairytale Hairdresser must seem the pinkest of all pink books for girls. The plot always turns on the eponymous scissor-wielder’s ability to sort out a classic fairy tale heroine’s hair with a quick cut and style, and the look is 100% girly; glitter on the cover, voluminous pink-tinted hair for Kitty herself.
I bought the first one for my daughter Eliza, who is 4, a year or so ago, and remember the moment well; I was trying to persuade her to choose a worthier work (can’t recall what, but it was probably something educational printed on kraft paper or similar) but picked up The Fairytale Hairdresser for a condescending-liberal good-God-whatever-next sort of flick through it.
“I WANT THAT ONE!” said Eliza.
“No, let’s get this feminist interpretation of cross-cultural myth printed with potatoes on cardboard, darling!” I said.
“I WANT THE PINK HAIR ONE!”
“Or what about this one, it teaches you how to – “
“PLEASE can I have the pink hair one?”
I bought her the pink hair one.
It was brilliant.
All the female characters are nice to each other, it makes you think what it would actually be like to have Rapunzel’s hair, and Kitty, who is the real hero, is an astute businesswoman.
And anyway let’s face it, a good haircut really can go a long way to solving existential problems.
More than any other book (well, anything other than the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business, anyway) it got Eliza interested in reading. We’ve read all the titles in the series now (it’s become a franchise, with its toy hairdressing set spin-off), and are looking forward to The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Little Mermaid coming out on May 7.
On a personal level, I’d like to think that in learning to embrace pink, I maybe learned to be just slightly less of a twat. One lives in hope, anyway.