It's gonna get sappy up in here.
I don’t know who coined that whole “_____ hair, don’t care” anthem, but I’m going to call BS here and say that if you are blonde (and not the natural kind) you most certainly do care. A lot. You spend a lot of time and money tending to the golden calf that is your hair.
I’ve had black hair my whole life. I don’t mean brunette, I’m talking like straight up Alice Cooper darkness. As the progeny of a Korean mother and a Chinese pop, my hair color fate was set from birth.
Aside from the time freshman year of college, when some of my hallmates were bleaching and streaking their hair in the dorm bathrooms and convinced me to do a strand, I have always had dark hair.
The coloring session at school didn’t exactly go well. After placing one chunk of hair in a foil-wrapped bleach burrito for half an hour, I was left with brittle, copper-colored strands that nearly snapped between my fingers. Uncool.
I started thinking of bleach as a “not for me” kind of thing. But when I mentioned to a colorist that I wanted to go blonde a few months ago, she said, “You’re going to get a lotttttt of attention." That comment planted the seed into the vanity sector of my brain that blonde = attention.
Enter Zoe Wiepert of Bumble and Bumble, expert transformer of brunettes and the like. Nine hours in her chair later, an hour of which involved the painful root-bleaching process, the salon was closed and the cleaning staff was tapping their feet impatiently at our very late-running session. (You can read about the gory details at xoVain.)
NO MATTER, because I am now a member of the blonde-high club!
I mean like Platinum Amex, white hot, Mother-of-Dragons blonde. It was a feat I knew not possible until now. After my subway ride home to Brooklyn, I took off my beanie to reveal my freshly bleached hair, matted at the roots because my scalp was in blistering revolt. Are we having fun yet?
When I got back to my apartment, my boyfriend shuffled around me like a dog wary of a new addition to the family. Who is this new blonde girlfriend? Why is she whining at me to please rub Neosporin and coconut oil on her scalp?
I’m still getting use to my reflection in the mirror. I’m still staring at myself wondering if I’m tanner or it’s just an optical illusion (it is). I’m wondering if I can still wear a strong eye and lip combo look (I can). I’m wondering if my mother will a) scream, b) cry, c) roll her eyes, or d) all of the above when she sees this.
I purposefully didn’t tell very many people that I was doing this until it was the big day. I got a “WHO ARE YOU?” from my co-worker as he stepped into the office behind me, not knowing who the blonde was sitting at my desk -- which made for a great slow-spin reveal in my swivel chair.
The few friends and acquaintances I saw this past week greeted me with a “HOLY S##T” (in the best possible way) rather than a “Hey, good to see you.” I’m going to give a pass for that one.
A couple days after my dye job, I moved into a new place. Moving sucks even if you hire movers because you still have to pack up everything and you will inevitably stash some vital thing in a box, then forget which one it’s in. Or if you’re like me, you’re too lazy to dig through the box to retrieve it, and then you live that interim of your life like a monk who just goes without.
Anyway, I made it through the stressful ordeal without movers, just a Zipcar. I pray that my Ped Egg turns up eventually.
Moving weekend, Boyfriend and I had arranged to buy a couch on Craigslist. We drove our rented van up to 56th and Lexington on a Sunday afternoon, double-parking it while we lugged a sofa out of a building. It’ll only take 10 minutes, right?
While we were hauling out the couch, a traffic law enforcement officer dude approached my double-parked Zipmobile, licking the tip of his pen.
This is where I come in, all “Wait, officer! We’re just going to throw this sofa in here and get gone. Save your paper, you don’t have to write that ticket!”
He looked at me perplexed and seemed to mull it over for a moment as I was giving him my best earnest-eyes. In the end, he gave me a stern nod and stalked off. I did a hair flip of triumph as I successfully pleaded my way out my first ticket!
Maybe he thought I was one of those persnickety types who would argue the ticket in court and make him go to City Hall on a lunch break and how annoying would that be? But I like to think it was my blindingly light-reflecting hair that short-circuited his ticket-writing brain. And then I lifted my newly acquired Ikea Karlstad sofa straight into the air with the remaining adrenaline and threw it into the car… or something like that. Can’t remember, too much winning.
Saturday evening, I popped into the notorious Williamsburg meat-market bar, Union Pool, to meet up with some friends. On any given night, this particular bar is one of those places where everyone checks everyone out, so I relegated myself to a corner so that I would remain unharassed.
“Cool hair, blondie,” some dude wearing sunglasses indoors and at night, yelled to me over the music. Yeah, that guy totally said that while totally looking like that. And then we high-fived and hot pink flames shot out from between our hands and rained down dollar bills. (OK, that second part didn’t really happen, but when that dude says that to you, you’ve really got to wonder what else the universe has in store for you).
You know when you’re at a place and you can tell some dude is checking you out but you don’t want to appear approachable so you avoid eye contact at all costs and just pretend like you’re trying to disarm a bomb via text, or doing something equally engrossing on your smartphone?
In my experience, the only dudes who would actually approach me are the ones who do not get “Do Not Disturb” social cues. It usually just gets weird from that point on. While I’d think that being blonde would act as a flame to such a bumbling moth, it actually repelled ANYONE FROM APPROACHING ME. No one wants to get shut down by the icy blonde who looks like she probably takes herself too seriously. I have conflicting feelings about this.
The next morning, boyfriend and I impromptu stopped into a cat adoption event down the block from our apartment. While I love cats, I don’t own one, so any opportunity to fraternize with kitties will definitely derail whatever it was we were planning on doing. (Like going to Ikea. More on that later). We honed in on a gray-and-white loaf of a tomcat named Bernard, who tolerated my Elmyra-levels of affection
As soon as a staff member caught sight of us, she breezed over, remarking, “You two make such a cute couple with your blonde hair and his blonde hair,” adding that she’d be happy for Bernard to live with us. Apparently double blondes make good cat parents. Bernard appeared pretty lukewarm about it.
We left sans cat and continued on to Ikea. Going there on a Sunday afternoon is basically volunteering to throw your body into a volcano of MDF board and stroller/cart hybrids. I do love getting carried away in the little staged vignettes of compact bedrooms and living room spaces though, imagining that I live in a tricked-out modular studio apartment where all the walls are white lacquered storage compartments, or that I have a lavishly airy boudoir with an elaborate yet affordable canopy.
As I was innocently lounging on the Leirvik (with all white furniture and bedding, natch), a girl of maybe seven years, wearing a plastic tiara, flopped onto the bed with me. Slightly alarmed, I looked around for her parents who surely were a stone’s throw away to scold their wild child about jumping on display furniture that another adult is sampling. Nope. Probably off yonder, comparing the virtues of the Malm versus the Hemnes.
“Um, hey,” I said to the girl, staring at me dead in the eyes.
“This is a princess room. Princesses only!” she said into the pillows. We clearly had much in common.
“Oh yeah? And what nation is your monarch a figurehead for?” I retorted.
“What? Monarchs are butterflies!” she giggled.
“You can be a princess too. Because you have princess hair,” she offered.
It’s 2014 and apparently young girls are still coloring in princess heads with yellow crayons. Even though something like 80 percent of the Disney princesses are not blondes. Are kids not into Disney princesses anymore? What about Princess Bubblegum? Princess Leia? Kate Middleton?
Aside from the delight of spooking my friends and colleagues with my “Surprise, I’m blonde now!” appearances, I find that going from black to blonde hair doesn’t get you perks to some exclusive club. It does make me a target for double-takes and sideways curiosity. I found that I was regarded either as someone who takes herself very seriously -- haughty almost -- or as someone who’s willing to take your crap. No to both.
Any woman walking alone in any city is familiar with catcalling and inappropriate remarks. Depending on the kind of mood I’m in, I usually ignore it and trudge on with a steely don’t-f-wit-me expression. For some reason though, being blonde seems to invite an amplified type of leering, beyond the normative “Sup beautiful” or “Howbout a smile, sweetheart?”
Maybe they thought if I was obsessed enough with my own vanity to bleach the crap out of my hair, I was probably also REALLY attention-starved? Um no, don’t talk to me.
So do blondes have more fun? I'm sure it's possible. The stylist, Dante, who chopped my hair at Bumble and Bumble detailed the experience of a blonde former girlfriend of his whom he convinced to go brunette -- namely that “all the free stuff she got as a blonde just stopped when she went brunette and she was pissed.” Whoops.
I mean, I have yet to cash in, but I’ve only been blonde about a week now.