Red, brown, blonde, black, pink, highlighted, short, long, bangs, center-parted, side-parted, I’ve pretty much done it all. Now, they haven’t all been winners, but that didn’t stop me from trying!
I’ve been coloring my hair since I was 14-years-old, the earliest age that my parents allowed. It started with a box of maroon-dye in an effort to achieve my best Angela from My-So-Called Life impression (or, more accurately, to copy my sister who was obsessed with My-So-Called Life, even though I was way too naive to understand any of it, and in fact it made me really confused and sad most of the time, but I pretended to ‘get it’ because that’s what all little sisters do to the lament and eye-rolling of their big sisters).
Regardless, I achieved the desired look (at least in my own mind) and I was hooked. Hair became the way I expressed myself. And the way that I have dated myself in any photo since — ah yes, the 2007 swoop bangs trend. Well, of course, the 2001 red and blonde highlight trend instigated by Kelly Clarkson after her American Idol win. (Was that the oldest I’ve ever sounded?) And who can forget the 2003 Mandy Moore shag cut (it is actually worth noting that most every hairstyle or color I have had between the years of 2002 and, like, last year, has been Mandy Moore inspired one way or another. I love her hair. And her, obviously. I could make a case in side-by-side photos but that would take way too much time and be far too embarrassing. Okay I’ll do one).
Changing my hair helped me try on different identities. Clearly. But with every change, the closer I got (get) to figuring out who I was (am) and not simply regurgitating someone else’s style or image.
Some people express their sense of style and self best with their clothes, others with their eyeglasses, others with their shoes or cars or jewelry. I do it with my hair. Like with any form of self-expression, hair can be a powerful way to express, rebel, or send a message about who you are and what you’re about. Or what you’re trying to figure out along the way. (There’s a whole musical that hinges on this theme if you care to know more).
When we were in college, my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s roommate (there’s got to be a less confusing way to describe that?) thought my husband dated several girls in as many months because I changed my hair so often. I mean, all he needed to do was actually look at my face, but I can appreciate that it was difficult for him to see much of anything through the one-eyed emo style that plagued many of the peers of my youth. It’s a choice that I gotta respect as someone in the midst of touting the importance of hair as self-expression, but man was that a distinct era.
Sidebar- Do we think that the emo era will return someday? Like, is it one that will find its way back into the fashion landscape, like it happened with our parents? Just as we wore bellbottoms but called them flare jeans, will the generations after us wear fishnet sleeves and call them arm links? Just as women part their long hair in the middle and call it bohemian (instead of hippie), will kids at some point again dye their hair jet black and flat iron the crap out of it and call it poetic (instead of emo)? These are the questions.
I change my hair because it’s fun and playful and it grows back. I do it when a big change has occurred. I do it to feel fresh and different and renewed. I do it so that my outside feels in line with my insides. I do it because I think it will look pretty. I do it because I want to, which is really reason enough.
I’ve had long hair now for about five years. When I was pregnant it was luscious and glorious, one of the best side effects of pregnancy hormones ever. Almost makes the less desirable ones, like swelling and mood swings, worth it.
But since then, due to all those messy topknots, in addition to my generally frazzled lifestyle and lack of shits-giving, I had let it get pretty ragged and hadn’t changed it in awhile. Evidence that stagnation had occurred.
I decided it was time for a change. Since I launched Brimming, my life outside has started to finally reflect my own inner workings. I’ve noted multiple times how different I feel as a person now that my kiddo is getting bigger and I’m actually figuring out the mom/person thing. And anybody who has seen any rom-com ever knows that the final element that synthesizes such a change is a make-over.
So I chopped off my hair.
It feels like a big deal and also doesn’t. It’s just hair. Fun and glorious. After the first cut, I watched the damaged ends fall to the floor, the frayed and frenzied remnants of a more stressful time. A final farewell to the cycle that has now officially closed, opening up this new chapter with a bang. It was incredibly liberating.
My hair is now healthy and buoyant, which is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Hello outside, meet inside.
Who’s your hair inspiration? Any style you’ve always wanted to try but have been too nervous? The one I haven’t done is full-on pixie. Maybe someday!
(Shout-out to Alchemy Studio, in Piedmont! They just opened and they’re awesome).