I recently changed my hair color again. Someone who has been through quite a few of my changes asked why I hated my hair. Obviously, I was confused. Why would someone put so much work into their hair if they hate it? But they continue by saying that dye damages your hair. So why do I ‘hate’ my hair?
I’ll tell you.
First here is a pic of me with my hair pre-dramatic transformations. I had long hair, it was strawberry blonde, and it was beyond thick but not wavy or curly. This was 2012. By this time, I had become okay with controlling my hair. When I was younger, I had bad experiences with both cutting and dyeing my hair. Bad haircuts have left me traumatized (I remember a substitute comparing me to Ponyboy post-switch-blade haircut), and what was supposed to be purple streaks when I was a freshman in high school turned into a head of bright pink. So I stuck with natural color (also my university didn’t allow non-natural color hair in the school) and I grew my hair out. But 2012 ended as a nightmare. And after getting suspended from university, I went into a downward spiral. This ended up with me cutting off all my hair and dyeing it black.
And, no, I don’t have any pictures.
One of the things about cutting my hair was that it was a release. At the end of 2012, I was in a university production which had us on contract not to cut our hair. After I was kicked out of the production, I was in such turmoil that I said to myself ‘fuck their cutting hair contract, time for it to go’. Shortly after that, I was suspended, and then I dyed my hair. I wanted to see myself in a new way, and one of the easiest ways was a dye job.
Nine months later (which sounded like a suspicious time frame, but I promise it wasn’t like that), I returned to school with shorter and darker hair. As I continued school, I kept my hair relatively short, though I experimented with different styles, dyeing it red-purple or just a deeper strawberry blonde. I was still dealing with the self-loathing and self-hate that 2012 afforded me, and my way of taking control was to change my hair. It allowed me to feel those spurts of confidence, and it gave me the opportunity to be complimented by people around me.
After graduation, I bleached my head. Originally with the intention of dyeing it white. Which didn’t work out. And, honestly, I wasn’t upset. At this point, I realized that it was just hair. I can change it as much as I want. It’s mine to do what I will. If I want to shave it off, I will. So when something with my hair didn’t go according to plan, I wasn’t as upset as I thought I’d be. My hair was a source of control, and if I can’t control that I thought I’d have another breakdown. But I released that control. I’ll choose what I want to do with my head, but if it doesn’t go as I imagined, I would realize what went wrong and learn from it.
So, white didn’t work out. Time to try grey with blue streaks. Which did work.
But as I got ready to go to graduate school, I realized I would no longer be under the ‘natural color only’ rule. So I dyed my head blue. A bright royal blue. I didn’t want to be associated with that natural-haired girl in 2012. I wanted that new identity and I changed myself the way I had been for four years: with my hair. I wanted that front of confidence, even if it truly didn’t exist in my own psyche.
The blue faded into a beautiful color. I loved my blue hair. It not only gave me that pretend confidence I want to present to others, but it also gave me that validation I hungered for. I continued to experiment with styles, figuring out where ‘home’ was for me hair cut-wise.
Toward the end of my time at graduate school, I decided on a new color: natural brown. Some part of graduate school made me more confident in myself, and because of it, I wanted to try out a natural color again. Plus, blue was hard to maintain at the moment, not only as a busy graduate student but a broke one, too. But there was also an underlying motive behind my brown hair. I knew I would no longer get the compliments and validation I liked from others. That was the point, though. I wanted to compliment myself; live without the need for others to find me valid, worthy, or even just notice me. I had that new confidence trickling in, and I wanted to give it some more of a push to do what it needed to do.
So graduate school ends. I’m in the real world. And the real world is horrifying. I lived with brown hair confidently for a while, until something work-related and family-related happened at the same time, causing a new potential breakdown. So, I took control back again. This time with a bright red. I need to build up confidence again. I need that validation again. Let’s pretend we have confidence and dye our hair a bright color. That seems to be my motto.
Today, I have another hair color. I missed my blue hair. I liked the way it looked on me; I liked the way blue hair made me feel. Also, I liked feeling valid via hair color (because that’s how it works in my brain I guess). However, because of the residual red, the blue dye turned my hair into…honestly, I don’t know. It changes color depending on the light. It looks dark blue, or black, or purple, or streaky red. Not what I planned, but how cool! I am hair Mystique.
Let me try to summarize my entire novel I wrote above. I never hated my hair. I hated myself. I was in no control over events in the worst moments in life, so I took control the only way I thought I knew how. Today, I dye my hair because I like seeing myself in the different colors and styles. I like seeing what looks best and what made me the most confident with myself. It’s just hair. Will it get damaged? Maybe. But I’ll deal with that when I come to it. For now, I’m going to enjoy my moonstone hair. And continue my journey into confidence.