No, it’s not how I take my coffee. It’s what I’ve done to my hair over my 20 plus year history of fighting and eventually
succumbing to embracing its natural form.
Fiery red. Growing up I always had very long, shiny, baby blonde hair, but when I was 11 I got the notion the red hair was the ideal form. I lusted over auburn locks and wanted them so badly for myself. After a year of begging, my mom let me indulge this want with a box of temporary hair color. I was hooked instantly. I loved it, but as many of you probably know, temporary hair color (particularly red) doesn’t fade beautifully and so began a cycle of dying, chopping, and growing out that lasted over a decade.
Dark brown. In high school, I dyed my hair a rich dark brown as an effort to reclaim my natural color and cover up the highlights earned from hours of running in the sun. I adopted the idea that my highlights made me look younger than I was and in an effort to look grown I covered them. Layer after layer of glossy dark brown dye gave me a deep, nearly black hair color that I kept until college.
Short & black. After my first year of college, I chopped off ten inches a wore a short dark bob. It was about as different as my hair had ever been. I think it was part of a desire to distinguish myself from the high school person I used to be. A lot of people’s college experiences are marked with all the places they drew a line in the sand and said “this is who I am”. A lot of my early time at college was spent trying to distance myself from my country roots. I had a list of reasons a mile long for doing so, none of which seem to hold any weight today.
Natural. When I started a new relationship in 2014 I stopped running. Stopped running from my roots, from my passions, from who I naturally was. My hair got long and the dye washed out. My natural highlights returned, a little brassier than their natural blonde, and my curl pattern started to form again. I focused less on my appearance than I had in years and I embraced a natural “me”. I washed my hair with baking soda and vinegar, spent my days working at a yoga shop and taking long Ashtanga practice every morning.
Blonde. In early 2015 the desire to dye my hair again came back, from a place of play. I wanted to try something new, something I never had before. Going lighter instead of darker. I had always been taught that dying your hair darker is adding color and therefore healthier than bleaching or stripping out color. This is why for so long I was terrified to go blonde, despite wanting to try it out. I took the plunge through a series of full highlight treatments over several months which gave me a very natural blonde (I had a lot of new acquaintances believing I was a natural blonde).
Bob. The unexpected haircut. As I grew out my blonde toward the end of 2016 I decided to go for a chop (up to my shoulder) to get off a lot of the length and let my natural hair grow back. When I left the salon she had cut my hair the shortest it ever was, up to my jaw. It was like losing my crown. It made me really evaluate my ego and where I kept it. Even five months after the chop (below) my hair was still much shorter than I was comfortable with, although the color was returning to my natural hue.
Natural. Today I’ve fully embraced my natural hair. It’s low maintenance, I cut it myself, I flip my part from the left to the right. I keep it long enough to not need hair ties (I just tied all the length into a knot). I don’t have to worry about fading as I did with my dark & short, I don’t worry about it drying out as I did with my blonde, I don’t worry about it curling up too much as I did with my bob. It feels like me, no mess, no fuss.
I think the big thing here is how important hair can be and how much it can change how you express yourself or process aspects of your life. Everyone should be free to embrace their natural hair or not, it’s their choice. No hair is unprofessional, no hair is superior. Everyone’s hair and aesthetic is unique and everyone should have the freedom to experiment and embrace the style they want to.