My first attempt to change my semi-boring ashy blond into something more un-me happened when I was 11 or 12. And it happened thanks to Sassy magazine; duh, what else? See, way back in Sassy's heyday, our very own Jane Pratt (or another editor I can't remember?) ran a beauty tip suggesting using Kool-Aid to temporarily color your hair.
Mine was light enough for it, so I tried the Cherry kind. Mere minutes later -- TRANSFORMATION! No longer a pasty, pimply, insecure nerd with glasses that were hideously too big for my face -- suddenly I was More Than Myself. I was hip, I was different, I was bold and I was brave, and, for just a day or two, I could experience the wonder of having hair that resembled the bouncing baby offspring of a cotton candy-and-Red-Delicious-apple sex romp.
Maybe it sounds ridiculous to link all those exciting traits with some dumb kid using a gross sugary drink mix to change their hair, but for reals, that's how it felt to me. Like my hair color was intrinsically tied in not just to who I wanted to be, but to who I already was. The secret, hidden parts of myself that lurked beneath just needed some encouragement, some poking and prodding, to come out.
All of this ties in to a new study that proves that, well, I must have been a budding lunatic for believing my hair color had any legit impact on WHO I WAS inside. Because once and for all, people, science has spoken: Hair color has absolutely zero connection with someone's personality or intelligence. (I.e., we can stop with the dumb-blonde jokes and the fiery-redhead stereotype and the studious-brunette stereotypes already!)
Of course, though our hair color might have no real bearing on our personalities, the color we choose to dye our hair can change the way we feel about ourselves: "While it's true the colour of hair we're born with doesn't dictate how bright, flighty or flirty we are, the colour we choose to be speaks volumes about how we'd like to be seen," as the Daily Mail puts it.
And that I can wholeheartedly agree with. Because like I said, ever since my Kool-Aid days, I've been dyeing my flat, fine hair a mini-rainbow of shades. (I'm 37 now, and I haven't seen my natural color since freshman year of high school.) Here are some of the ones I've tried, and how they made me feel.
RED RED RED, ALL THE REDS
Throughout high school I was a redhead of a zillion hues. (I've returned to red for brief stints as an adult, too.) I ranged from strawberry to fire-engire to angsty-teen maroon. I had a Thing for red hair; I thought it was super-special because so few people had it, while at heart I was just a miserable teenager who wanted to feel different, you know? Plus, all the popular girls at my school had highlights, which clearly meant me and my red non-hairdo were boldly unique. I was a risk-taker and an innovator. That's what I needed to tell myself, anyway.
A couple times during my red phase, I decided to get a little funkier -- i.e., to delve into purpler shades. I wore flannels and Docs, I loved Nirvana, I was an Emo Misfit Supreme and I wanted to prove it, dammit! I specifically remember a deep, shiny eggplant color I wore for a minute, until I realized it made me look like a sick golf ball with long scraggly purple strands pasted atop it. Or something.
I started bleaching my hair platinum my senior year of high school, and continued throughout most of college and beyond. It's my go-to most-loved shade; to me it still reeks of glamour and mystery and sophistication, but not, like, stuffy Upper East Side sophistication -- no, a daring punk-rocker kind of thing. With cat-eye liner and bright red lipstick serving as my signature makeup look, I thought I looked striking and ethereal, yet put-together; I suspect I looked more clownish, though, because the heavy-makeup-plus-platinum combo can sometimes look so jarringly fake, you know? I still forget that sometimes.
NATURAL ASHY BLOND (HIGHLIGHTS)
I started doing this for a few years in my 30s, not because I no longer liked platinum but because platinum was no longer being kind to my hair. When it started coming out in clumps whenever the stylist washed it, I knew it was time to give it a rest and go a little more natural.
I've only dyed my hair brown once, during my senior year in college. I had long, almost-black hair with blunt bangs, a la Bettie Page. (That was a conscious decision, BTW -- I desperately wanted to be Bettie-esque in all her retro-hotness-and-playful-sex-appeal glory.) I thought the dark hair provided a nice contrast with my super-pale skin and eyes. In retrospect, it was kind of pretty, but it almost required more makeup than my platinum situation; I felt more washed-out, somehow, with brown hair. LESSONS, THEY WERE LEARNED.
Since then, I've flirted with the pastel trend (actually before it was a trend, thanks), adding streaks or under-layers of light pinks and reds. I tried one interesting stripey black-and-platinum thing once, all over my head, in my 20s, that made me feel cool and edgy but looks woefully dated today (wish I had a pic).
Hair color! What's yours? What does it say about you? Have you experimented, or not so much?