I’m dying my hair red tomorrow.
I’ve wanted to dye my hair for years, but never had the nerve. So finally, over the summer, I decided it was time. It took me a while to track down a trusted stylist, but I eventually got a hot lead and scheduled a normal hair cut to scope her out. We fell to talking, hit it off, and I began describing my ideas.
“This is so exciting,” she told me. “You’re going on a hair journey.”
A hair journey.
At first I thought: no. This is too cheesy, there is no way I am describing this a as a “hair journey.” But, being totally honest, I am excited by this. There actually is a story here, and I want to chronicle the adventure. So WTF, I’m gonna embrace this: I’m going on a hair journey, y’all.
Which is a bit scary, because I actually quite like my hair the way it is, in spite of the general cultural derision to which it has often been subjected.
My hair color has been called “mousy,” in a derogatory way. It has been compared to the color of dishwater. It is “dirty blonde,” as opposed to “golden,” or “strawberry,” or “flaxen.” Not dark enough to be properly brunette, not golden enough to be a honey brown. No one waxes poetic about my hair color (with the sole exception of “Jeanie with the light brown hair,” to the bane of all light-brown-haired Jeanies everywhere).
My hair seems to be what every other woman in the world has tried to get away from. Take a good look at any woman with dyed hair, and it seems as if all of them have my shade of mildly undefinable brown. Ours is the color of un-touched roots.
There are up-sides to this. Because of the relative unpopularity of my hair color, I—and many women like me—have been largely spared from random stereotypes related to it. It does not say “feisty,” “easy,” or “exotic” to anyone. We do not get burned at the stake for being ginger. We do not fall into a blonde-brunette rivalry. What’s there to compete with? It has, for generations, been the least desirable hair color on the planet. Out for so long, that in the age of hipster contrarianism, it’s almost in.
Because, as it turns out, my hair color is having a bit of a moment.
While researching this blog post (because obviously one should research these things), I discovered that dirty-blondish-brownish hair is trending. The fashion world has dubbed my shade “bronde,” a portmanteau of “blonde” and “brown,” because apparently this color is so muddled and indeterminate, they needed to invent a new term for it. It’s like they think they suddenly “discovered” bronde hair, instead of it being the long-overlooked natural shade of quite a lot of us.
Which is a shame, because once you look closely, it’s really a lovely color—a kind of silvery almond, with natural highlights in the summer, and a whole lot of subtle variation and depth.
Again: I really like my hair. I’ve been loyal to it all my life, which I’ve come to realize is not normal anymore. I go into salons and the person cutting my hair comments on how unusual it is that it’s never been dyed. Which is probably why dyeing it feels like a betrayal. Like I have something to be ashamed of. Like I’m trying to be something I’m not.
Which is probably why getting my hair dyed is as scary as it is exciting. Because it feels like a pretense, like something not really me.
I’d like to say hair color has no significance. That the stereotypes tied to them are largely unfounded. That since your hair color is largely a quirk of genetics rather than a personal choice, it really doesn’t say much about your personality. That being a redhead, or a brunette, or any other rainbow hue doesn’t change anything fundamentally about who you are—that you’re still you, even if you haven’t any hair at all.
But I wouldn’t really know. I’ve only ever been light brown.
And I can’t deny a niggling curiosity about how I would feel to be a different shade. Maybe there’s something there that I want to express. Something that has got to find its way out somehow. And describing it as a journey seems appropriate, because it feels like leaving home and traveling the world. You learn things about yourself as you go, and your accent slips, and you pick up some new words and phrases. But at the end of the day, carbonated beverages are always pop. Roots will show.
So to all the ladies with dusky, almond-colored hair: your shade is lovely. And I’m sorry to be leaving your ranks for a while, but I’m going on a hair journey.
I don’t know when I’ll be back.