My Hair is Not My Beauty

Ah, hair.  One of my all time favorite subjects.  For my first blog post about hair I thought I’d share my own life long hair relationship.

Red at 6 years old, blond hair

My father and myself at a Girl Scouts Father Daughter dance. It was football themed. He has on a Bears jersey and my Mother made me a Girl Scout cheerleader outfit.

Red with a pageboy hair cut

Pageboy. I’m so cute though, right?!

When I was young I started out life with naturally straight blond hair (see left-SO BLOND!).  I like all children was at the mercy of my mother’s hair styling choices. Pageboys were the go to style until about age three (see right). It was also the early 80’s, so 70’s styles were still holding a death grip onto the last bits it could.

When first grade arrived I started to take some initiative in what my hair looked like.  For a school portrait in first grade I felt it was imperative that I wear a classic side ponytail for my photo.  Hello 80’s style, we are in full swing now!  My mother, after much persuading, agreed we could do this.  After she painstakingly got the hairstyle perfect for the picture, I went to school confident I was going to have the best pictures. These portraits however were taken after recess.  The end result was not pretty.  Needless to say I think I destroyed all evidence of this portrait and my mother, rightly so, informed people she did not send me to school looking like a disheveled mess. Thus my love hate relationship with style and hair began.

Being born in ’83, I was not really old enough to truly embrace the 80’s fabulous-ness (except that side pony). As the 90’s came I was not a grunge kid (I’d heard teen spirit on MTV, it was cool, but I could not understand what this guy was singing about, plus I had a little sister so we listened to Raffi in the car. See, I was SO cool!). While I was busy navigating getting new friends in Marin Country California I understood that I was not as cool as these Californian’s, but I did not understand how to achieve this level of cool.  I hated jeans and skirts. My life was so hard.  I used my loud mouth and humor to get people to like me, not my clothing or hair!

Flash forward to Arizona at the end of July right before my 7th grade school year. I decided that this whole being hip to the current trends thing might help me in a place where everyone knew each other from elementary school (I had been in CA and knew no one except those whom I had 6th grade classes with). I was also going to be in ‘smart’ person math with 8th graders!  It was time to step up my game. In my mind the coolest way to start the new year was with a pixie cut. I thought this was the cutting edge of cool fashion trends. However, the rest of the student body let me know how wrong I was from day one

red short hair

One of the best “Short Hair” styles of my life.

[flash forward a few years and the pixie was all the rage! I was a fashion maven before her time].  The ridicule I received scarred me for the next 15 years.  I refused to get a haircut until I was a sophomore in high school.  This resulted in some terrible mullet hair for the next year and a half [I even refused to get the Rachel and it was the 90’s people!].  Only my father still has a picture of this truly  terrible hair time.

In high school my hair had grown out splendidly! This was also the time to experiment with color.  My blond was turning into a mousy brown and it was oh so bland. I went first with blond highlights, then chestnut brown, and then auburn. After auburn I wanted more red! I had the worst hair dying experience of my entire life because of this.

Tip:If you tell a hair stylist that the last time they dyed it a deep red and it faded to a light red, and you want it to be a light red again, don’t let them convince you that they need to dye it the deep red color and let it fade to the light red.  It’s a lie and your hair just ends up magenta for six months. If you want magenta hair, it’s great but I wanted copper red.  The minute I left the salon I burst into tears and called my mother immediately sobbing telling her how horrible it was. The minute I got home (literally 5mins later) I washed my hair four times in a row to get as much dye out as possible.  I cried all night long about the horrible color. Dramatic huh? I refused to let anyone dye my hair for a full year, even myself! When I finally got my butt back to the salon I talked to the hair stylist for a good half hour before I even let her show me hair swatches of reds.  She at least got me to trust a stylist again.  She was amazing.

Natalie Portman with Short Hair

My inspiration! I did not look this stylish when I did it.

At 24 I got the most dramatic hair cut I’ve ever gotten in my entire life!  I was inspired by Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta.  She looked so good and was such a bass ass.  I wanted to be that to! SO, off to the salon to get a cut like the one on the right.  The hairstylist asked me for 20 minutes if I was sure this is what I wanted. I was sure.  I certainly looked bad ass after this was done. When my friends asked me years later why I did it, I feel that the real reason was I needed chop it all off to prove to myself I had more beauty than my hair.

You see my hair for 90% of my life has been the only part about myself that I have loved unconditionally! After the middle school bullying about my short hair I was extremely protective and sensitive about it. After my coloring fiasco, even more so! These thoughts and feelings about my hair had been my constant gauge of self worth.  It’s what people always complemented me on. Nothing else physical seemed good to the rest of the world. Why should I value anything else about me if others didn’t? Chopping it all off really broke that cycle.

No longer having hair really forced me to look at every aspect of myself and start loving more about me than my hair.  It was liberating and empowering.  It was also down right scary to be so exposed.  Hair can be a curtain to hide behind and I did not have it anymore. I learned to love new parts of me and appreciate them as well.  [I learned I have three cow licks on my head as well.  Styling my short hair soon became very very hard.  Faux hawks were my go to for quite some time.] This also really broke the cycle for me of allowing others to dictate to me what my hair should be!  No longer would I ever let people make me feel bad for my hair cut.

Red with long hair and bangs

BANGS! Great idea if you want to constantly style them and do the upkeep. Not a good idea if you don’t (me!).

Red short hair

The hair chop to blend in those grown out bangs.

Now I can go from long to short and not think that my world has ended because I don’t have long enough hair (left and right). I  know for certain I LOVE having long hair. It is not the only thing that defines me, just a really great part that defines me.  I have finally found a copper red color I LOVE and if I had a dollar for every time someone asked if it was my natural color I’d be able to have a professional dye my hair on the regular.

So, what can I learn from my hair journey so far? I think all to often in our culture we assign value based off a person’s looks and hair is a huge part of it.  What color is it?  Are you bald or balding? Are you styling it every day or not?  Because of my love for hair and hair styles I tend to notice someone’s hair first.  I can be very judgment, I admit it.  However, thanks to a lot more body positivity in our culture and in myself it’s changing.  In my opinion this is the best time to be alive and have hair! Want rainbow hair?  No problem.  Want it short, a symmetrical, shagged, vintage, or anything in between?  GO FOR IT! Tell me about your hair loves and hates below.

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