All About Me: Why my daughter will have blue hair
Okalie dokalie everyone!
So, I know I promised a weekly/semi-weekly/monthly/whenever the heck-I-want-ly segment of “All About Me.” While I will always use my own experiences to illuminate my opinions and views on things, these segments will be more focused inward: something that I’m thinking or feeling or experiencing or doing in my own life. Or, maybe sometimes I’ll sing a song. Y’know whatever.
Don’t worry y’all. I’m not pregnant.
If you only know me via the world wide web though and don’t really interact with my IRL (at least not often) you may not know that I recently put colored extensions in my hair again after a 7 year long hiatus of not having them.
These colored synthetic little beauties followed me throughout late high school and most of college. I remember my senior year when I was interning at the Federal Reserve Bank. Going into probably one of the most stuffy, buttoned-up places I’ve ever been with these colored streaks just made me feel so ALIVE and INVIGORATED. I kept them in throughout college, only cutting them out just before winter break and in the summer. I loved how you could change them to fit your mood and whatever type of person you wanted to be. Like my own personal, visual reminder that…fuck yeah I am awesome.
There were times during that point in my life where I forgot how awesome I was. I remember one particularly painful semester where stress from classes, friend dramas, coping with overeating, and one oh, so very,very unrequited crush had me feeling so unbelievably depressed. After a few months of wear my extensions became ratty and were beginning to slide out. The time came to cut them out. Looking in the mirror after I was finished, I remember being so startled my reflection. How…”regular” I looked. Like any good budding emo kid/depressed humanities student I wrote a poem about it. I’ll spare you the more embarrassing details but the end goes like this:
“But when you cut away the synthetic strands
Blue and green, purple and magenta, pink and blue, then blue and green again
and throw away the remnants of them
I am painfully aware of my normalcy.
And that life is concentric circles
–the process of learning how to disappear.
And that is truth.”
In that moment I felt anything but “I am fucking awesome.”
The fact is, even though visual reminders of our own special-ness are so inadequate compared to our own internal valuation of ourselves, sometimes they’re all we have. When the world has beaten you down and taken your light, sometimes it’s hard to dig deep and remember what makes you YOU and why YOU is the best thing you can be.
A few months ago, my best friend had a wonderful baby girl. Seeing her and holding her got me thinking about what kind of daughter I would want to raise. When, universe-willing, I have a daughter I never want her to feel anything less then how fucking awesome she is, even in those shadowed times and places and where it’s hard to see your own light. My daughter will have blue hair, piercings, tattoos and anything she wants to remind herself of her greatness.
Sure, I recognize the risks.
My daughter might be pointed at, or ridiculed. My daughter might get pulled into the principal’s office for violating the uniform code. Put into a box of kids who are “trouble.” She may have her “professionalism” called into question.
But, I want my daughter to tell her own story and to be reminded of that story every. day. even when it seems like she might forget. My daughter will not NEED these “badges of courage” –I hope to instill that value in her myself. But, nobody is perfect, and nobody can wake up everyday and always know deep down that they are so. unbelievably. enough.
For a long time after college, I gave up my extensions (though never the tongue ring) because I thought that’s what growing up meant. Looking back, I realize this was a bigger metaphor– I truly was trying to “learn to disappear.” This value was reinforced by work spaces where “normal” (wtf does that even mean) dress and appearance were required. Consequently, I allowed myself to put that piece of me on a shelf and forget about it.
A big theme of my life right now is learning to find my own voice. My experiences post- graduation really caused met to silence myself personally and professionally. And, while I realize that voices, courage, and loving yourself don’t come from symbols (thanks, Wizard of Oz) I think it’s important for me (and my future daughter) to recognize when a symbol speaks to you, whether it be for a moment or for your life. These extensions are more than just a new hairdo–they are a journey back to myself, and simultaneously, a journey of new discovery of my “fucking awesemosity.”
I hope my daughter never loses herself in the ways that I have lost myself in the past. But, if she does, my gift to her will be blue hair– a path to find her way back.