Once I hit my teenage years I got a little rebellious. So one day when I was 15 I went to the store and purchased the supplies I needed. A few hours later I turn up for dinner at my house with freshly dyed blue hair. A bit of a shock my parents didn’t quite get it but let they me be regardless. How often I heard people console my parents “It’s just a phase. She’ll get over it soon enough. All teenagers go through their own thing. At least it’s not permanent like tattoos!” No it wasn’t – the tattoos came later…
What most people didn’t understand is how this kind of transformation made me feel. As a mousy teenage girl, your typical wallflower, all of a sudden people were taking notice of me. I became more confident to speak my mind and stand up for myself. Yes I got heckled and people often questioned me endlessly. Being challenged in that way forced me to stand up for my choices, defend myself and ultimately grow into the person I became. For the greater part of the last 16 years (minus a couple of years for employment purposes) my hair has been nearly every magical colour under the sun.
Many people think my hair is a mask or a gimmick to gain attention. Instead of looking at it like a mask covering myself, in reality it is pulling off the mask of others. I can very quickly learn about people from how they react to my hair colour. Some employers are turned off. I don’t want to work for people who value an employee’s looks over the quality of their work. Some people sneer and make comments about how it’s a cry for attention. Those tend to me more judgmental and insecure in themselves. Some are curious, complimentary and ask a million questions. They’re people who have a similar spark inside them but maybe don’t express it in the same way. Others ignore it and treat me as if my hair colour doesn’t exist. This could be for many reasons but those people tend to value fairness and see beyond the superficial – or maybe they’re just an example of “If you can’t say anything nice…”.
The best feeling in the world, is the pure joy I get from little kids who gasp, point and their eyes sparkle when they see my hair. I often hear kids say “I want my hair to be like that!” and in front of their dismayed parents I’m quick to reply, “When you’re 18 and you have a job your hair can be any colour.”
In the end, not taking into account anyone else’s opinon, I like it. I feel that same joy and wonder when I look in the mirror at my hair as I did when I was a kid and they came out with a new My Little Pony. Whatever names I get called, whether it’s mermaid, unicorn, crazy or narcissist, I know when I face myself in the mirror at the end of the day I am happy with me.
Travelling with my hair
I’ve probably gotten less attention and less people approaching me abroad about my hair then I do here at home. I often worry about my upcoming travels and if other parts of the world will be as accepting as the ones I have already been to, but I think that’s just a bridge I’ll have to cross when I get there. Until then I am left with my fondest memory of my hair which happened while I was travelling in Quintana Roo, Mexico. I was exploring the ruins at Coba and afterwards had the opportunity to visit a traditional Mayan village and see how their culture is surviving today.
A family invited us into their hut while our guide, who had grown up in the same village introduced us to everyone. I noticed the mother’s eye kept darting to me and although I was wearing a bandana that day my long pink pigtails hung over my shoulders. Shooting her warm smiles as often as I could she slowly made her way towards me until the baby on her hip reached out and grabbed my arm. As I started to entertain the little one her sister came barreling in home from school. She saw me with her baby sister and came right over and started talking to me. I unfortunately can’t speak Spanish let alone Mayan but I was happy to crouch down to the little girl as our guide came over to help us communicate. Our guide laughed at us as he told me, “she wants to know if your hair is real” and I said yes it’s real and held out my pigtail for her to touch. What happened next I couldn’t have predicted! The little girl, who couldn’t have been more then 6 or 7, leaned in, sniffed my hair and then licked it!
I sat there as she said something and giggled. The whole hut burst out into laughter as the guide told us she wanted to lick my hair to see if it tasted like candy! I was tickled pink (bad pun I know) but as she chattered on the guide explained that the only time she had ever seen that colour before was in candy and she didn’t know people could have hair in different colours. It was such a lovely afternoon shared with this family and one that I’m sure I’ll never forget. I always wonder if the little girl went to school the next day and told her friends about the lady with the pink candy hair