I never understood people’s need to dye their hair a different color than its’ natural color. To me, the only good reason to dye your hair was to cover greys. All my life, I have been told things like “your hair is beautiful” and “what a lovely color.” I was led to believe that my natural color was perfect for me. My mom pleaded with me not to color my hair. I was 32 the first time I dyed my hair. You read that right, thirty-two years old. I really didn’t rebel too much as a teenager, honestly, I mostly hid.
I was born with naturally red hair that my grandma would wrap around her bony fingers to create finger curls. I looked like Shirley Temple until I was 4, when my naturally curly, red hair started to lighten in the sun. After that, I was strawberry blonde. (I feel like a Peanuts character describing my naturally curly hair.)
All my relatives raved about my hair and how beautiful it was even when it started to fade.
I went into my adult life believing that my hair was the perfect color for me. Then two things happened. 1.) My husband casually asked, “Why don’t you dye your haired.” I try not to ponder the significance of this statement too much because I have a feeling it would make me profoundly sad to know the answer. 2.) I felt, I don’t know, powerless, useless, let it just suffice to say I felt a mired of feelings that I was trying to make sense of. I couldn’t find a job. My son’s behavior was scary at school. My husband was at work the majority of the time, making me the primary caregiver for our son. There was/is a lot going on.
As I grew up everyone reminded me, “Do you remember that pretty little girl with the red, curly hair?” (and I wish I weren’t making this up, that statement is practically verbatim.) I think the first time I dyed my hair it was to regain a little bit of the control that I felt like I was losing over my life. And, dying my hair a bold red, made me feel bold and confident. I no longer blended into my background, by the laws of color theory, for the first time in my life, I stood out.
My mom nearly pooed herself when I walked in the door. She asked me why, why did I do that to my beautiful hair? I told her, “So the drapes matched the carpet.” (I never claimed to be ladylike.) But in reality I did it because I wanted to. I wasn’t wearing a mask, like I thought other people to do who dyed their hair, I was being me.
Now, a bit of irony: remember my husband, who made the comment, “Why don’t you dye your hair red?” He didn’t even notice until he walked in the bathroom one night when i was in the process of dying my hair for the third time. He asked me, “I hope you didn’t do that for me?!” And I was telling the truth when I replied, “No, I’m doing it for me.”