Our hair color is a huge part of our identity, whether we like it or not. Blonde jokes aside, many women truly do build some sort of personality based on their hair color, and changing that can alter a woman’s perception of themselves. It’s one thing when you change your hair color at the salon, knowing and planning on changing this aspect of your identity. It’s another issue when your hair color changes itself.
Growing up, I was always the blonde kid. My sister and dad have brown hair, my mom and I have blonde hair, and that’s how it always was. As I got older, my hair got darker and darker, but I was still a dirty blonde. I clung to this idea and identity until I was an adult, despite my sister telling me my hair was “taupe,” and other friends telling me it was “light brown.” Being stuck on the idea that I was not the type of person to dye her hair, I was left with the dilemma of what to do about my (perhaps overly dramatized) hair woes. This is my story.
There is nothing wrong with brown hair. In fact, I like the way deep chestnut locks look on women, and even the way light brown hair can have that golden look. But I had trouble actually realizing that I, a BLONDE, was really a brunette. Those who know me (and my neurotic concern about turning brunette) would tease me and tell me my hair was brown, but at the end of every summer my tressed lightened just enough so I felt blonde again. Then one summer came around and my hair never lightened. It occurred to me that perhaps, each year, it would continually fail to get lighter.
Am I the type of person to get highlights?
Some women have been coloring their hair since junior high, experimenting with box kits, highlights at the salon and more. But not me. I took some sort of weird pride in the fact that I had never dyed my hair, and it was slightly depressing for me to realize that I would need to turn to chemicals to get the look I want.
I was also terrified of getting fake-looking highlights. Because I am clearly obsessed with this, I tend to pay close attention to other women’s hair, especially the blonde ones. I decided that I can always, no matter what, tell whether a blonde is natural or not. What I had to then come to terms with was whether I really cared if people knew I was a fake, so long as they saw me as a blonde.
After several (probably excruciating for them) conversations with friends, family members and co-workers, I decided on highlights. In the end it came down to this – why the heck not?
First go around
I sat down in my stylist’s chair and she asked me what I wanted. I had done all the research, brought in my pictures – I felt pretty prepared. She seemed to brush it off like it would be easy, like she knew exactly what I wanted. This obviously made me anxious.
As I sat in my foils and she brushed away with the color, all of my anxiety ran through my head – maybe I shouldn’t dye my hair. What if I don’t like it? What if it’s too blonde? I wasn’t worried about what actually ended up happening.
When the color was being washed out, my stylist didn’t have much of a reaction. When I sat in the chair with my wet hair, I looked the same. ‘I’ll notice when it’s dry,’ I thought to myself. I didn’t notice when it was dry. It looked THE SAME. Naturally, I smiled and said I loved it – even though it was a bold-faced lie. Then I went home and convinced myself I actually did.
Second go around
The next day, no one noticed a change in my hair. Heck, I didn’t even notice a change in my hair. I finally decided to call back and explain my concerns to my stylist. She seemed to understand and invited me back for more (free of charge, thank God, since I had spent half of my paycheck the first time).
I’m now blonde, and I feel like I got my money’s worth. Can you tell it’s not natural? Yes. Am I used to it yet? No. But am I happy I mustered up the courage to make a change? Yes.
What’s important is not that my hair is a different color or how other people see me – It’s my personal journey and now, how I see myself.