So, I am going to branch off of my normal topics (is there really such a thing?) and talk about something that has absolutely nothing to do with writing. Nada. Not one little thing. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that word again in this blog entry.
Those closest to me know that I LOVE fancy/out-of-the-box hair color. I have been dying my hair since I was 13 years old (Sorry, mom) and after the first time, I was hooked. I started out with Auburn hair because my mother had beautiful red hair and I, unfortunately, was denied this gene. A good chunk of her family were redheads as well and the more gingers I discovered lurking in my gene-pool, the more jealous I became.
So, the dyeing began. Auburn, copper, natural red, then I started the playing into less natural shades. Cherry coke, chocolate cherry, burgundy, and deep fiery red were some of my absolute favorites.
Eventually, my parents forgave me and (mostly) stopped grouching and giving me a hard time about it– dad. But, the point is, even after their reservations they always ended up liking how the new color looked. So, all the grousing was really for nothing. It didn’t make an impact in my life, it didn’t distract other students, I didn’t go through a complete personality-change. I was still me… just with a new color of hair.
There was just one thing they put a complete kibosh to. It is pretty standard in all walks of parentage. I think we all know where this is heading. Right? Say it with me, then, my lovely readers:
“Just don’t do anything stupid or crazy; like dye your hair blue”
Now, unlike most kids, I actually listened to my parents. I stayed within the boundaries they allowed me. I played around with other hair colors, some natural. I dyed it pitch black, twice,– my Amy Lee phase– but I pretty much stayed in the red shades. Even after I was grown and out of the house, I didn’t stray too far. I did dye it a fuschia-purplish color once… and even used Black Cherry Koolaid.
That one was interesting. Only took one failed attempt to realize I needed sugar-free Koolaid. Now that should have had pictures… sadly (re: fortunately) I was too busy trying to unstick my hair from a style very akin to that infamous hair gel scene in Something About Mary.
Of course, I would still always hear those little quips from people around me that didn’t agree with hair-dyeing, period. My dad. My boss. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly lucky. A lot of people want to dye their hair unnatural colors but can’t because of their jobs. It’s rare to find a (good) job that allows such drastic alterations: hair color, tattoos, piercings. But I did. My job is a rare amazing jewel that is good enough to allow me to survive financially and doesn’t care what I do with my body. So, yes, I took quick advantage of this and started to dye it the more outrageous shades. Last year, I even bleached my hair blond and did aqua underneath. It was the craziest I’d ever attempted… until now.
Yep, I went against the one thing my parents always told me not to do (I’m a grown woman– I do what I want!) and went with an absolutely outrageous combo of blue, teal, and purple (the picture doesn’t do it justice). Honestly, it was liberating. Though a small part of me worried about the tough disapproval of my father– he’s still my daddy, after all– the rest of me was invigorated. Energized. I had dreamed of letting my true self shine through, uninhibited and free of societal criticism. I have blue freaking hair and I love it!
Of course, I see the looks. I feel the disgruntled disgust, the unabashed criticism, the laughter and belittlement. I see the awe in young children’s eyes as I walk past and hear the groans of their parents when they systematically exclaim that they “want blue hair when they grow up!”. I once worried that I would feel slighted, offended, and castigated at the verbal abuse and judgment of others over something so superficial; something that brought me joy.
But I don’t.
As I said before, I felt joyous and free. My expression of self was not tainted by the opinions of others. I don’t care what a person does with their hair, skin, flesh… it doesn’t dictate the meat of their souls, their personalities, or the goodness/darkness of their actions. It’s simply, an expression of themselves, not unlike a woman’s choice of make up or a man’s decision to wear graphic t-shirts as opposed to crisp-collared polos. A teenage girl with green highlights in her hair, a Metallica shirt, and studded face can be one of the most kind-hearted and giving souls while a man of the cloth, wearing a clerical collar and wrinkled smile can be the most viscous of predators. It’s not the outside that rules what is inside. Some of us just live in a more colorful existence than others and, it is with this understanding and conviction, that I found my peace regardless of those stares or questions of my decisions.
For example, I will transcribe a conversation I had recently with a woman I see on a near-daily basis:
(Unnamed Person): So can I ask why with the blue (hair)?
Me: Why not?
U.P.: “Why not?”
Me: Yeah. It’s hair. It’s temporary (the hair), it grows back, can be cut off or redyed.
U.P.: So there’s no reason?
Me: It makes me happy. Why stop myself from being happy? My boss doesn’t care, there’s no rules against it, it doesn’t cause hurt or drama. I felt like having blue hair so I got blue hair and I’ve been in a better mood than I have been for weeks. So, “why not” do something that makes me feel happy?
I was happy to find that, though she did not personally have the same outrageous tastes in appearance, she found an understanding. She later told me she’d hoped her questions hadn’t offended me and I found I could honestly tell her that I hadn’t been. Even if she wanted to press it, to tell me that it was an idiotic thing to do or, God forbid, “unprofessional” (because, yes, professional integrity you’ve had for years disintegrates the moment you have purple hair or stick a stud through your ear) I still would be okay with MY decision.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to blog on this subject. It just came to me and I had the overwhelming urge to write (Oh darn… I didn’t make it to the end without using that word after all). No matter the reasons, my heart wanted to share and isn’t that what these new-fangled blog things are for, anyway?
So maybe, in a strange round-about way, this topic can have everything to do with writing. I think being true to your expressive self is tantamount to being an author or story-teller.
You can’t allow yourself to hold back because the product of self-expression becomes so much richer, and so much more indulgent, when you allow yourself to be what you truly are. You’re never going to please everyone, whether it’s with blue hair or with a story you’ve poured your heart into for years. There will be people that love it. There will also be people that hate it. Above all that, though, is the question: How does it make you feel?