I’m a black girl who always, always wanted to be blonde. Not white woman, Marilyn-blonde. It wasn’t a projection thing. No, I remember, at a very young age, wanting specifically to be Tina Turner blonde. Needing to be this.
I watched Motown 25 and saw vintage footage of caramel-skinned Mary Wells singing “My Guy” with a towering, wedding cake of a honey-hued bouffant wig, and felt like that look was my calling. And then later, in the late Nineties, when Mariah, J. Lo, and Tyra made the all-over tawny-toned moment so sexy -– you know, hair color that’s practically identically to your skin color (golden-bronze skin, golden-bronze hair) -- I decided that was it.
I was born with the wrong hair. My dark brown, chestnut-blah locks were a mistake. I was supposed to have hair like “Crazy in Love” Beyoncé, dammit.
The problem was, I always had a relaxer, and slapping another chemical treatment on top of that is ruinous to your hair (most celebs have weaves, so they’re not hurting their real hair when they experiment with color). To go blonde, you must bleach -– and bleach on top of a relaxer could’ve completely broken my hair off, causing it to shed or fall out completely. So it wasn’t until this year, after I’d finally gone au naturale –- no relaxer for two years –- that I could finally go full-on Bey-blonde.
I went to Hair Rules Salon in Midtown Manhattan (known far and wide as the textured hair mecca) and turned my dark hair over to Aimee the Color Whisperer. When I walked out of those doors on 55th street with my buttery-streaked, amber color, I felt like I’d found religion.
Seriously, I approach the world totally differently. I believe it’s how I was meant to look. Everything fell into place. There’s an extra wiggle in my walk. I sparkle for cab drivers, the register chicks at Barnes & Noble, chihuahuas. I feel like I look like a swatch of gold lame, come to life. When I catch my reflection in the mirror, my soul lurches with approval, like, “Yes bitch, yes! This should’ve been you all along!”
Have you ever felt like that? Where you make one tweak in your appearance and the whole world comes into focus (like, “Goddamn, that septum piercing really took me from cute chick to badass, didn’t it?”)? It’s like beauty lithium.
Granted, even without the double-chemical process nightmare of dying over a relaxer, my hair is damaged as hell. To go from dark to light, your colorist must strip out your god-given hue first, which is treacherous business.