Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Day I Decided To Dye

I am participating in Diane DeBella’s I Am Subject project. This project showcases women's stories about when or how they reclaimed their lives. There are many stories, many voices. Here is my #iamsubject story:

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When I was young, I was blond. 

A pretty, little schoolgirl with pigtails and blue eyes. My grandmother’s “doll”, my mother’s only daughter, my teachers’ cute student, my ballet instructor’s graceful dancer. They loved to see me happy. So I smiled. 

I tried to be the girl they saw.

As I grew, my hair did, too. Long. Stick straight. Still bright blond. I was cast in the lead of the elementary school play, placed front row center in my class picture in a different color chair than all the other kids, thrown into spotlights when all I wanted was to hide in the shadows. I was confused and shy. People seemed to like me that way. So I stayed. 

I tucked my discomfort away.
 
As a teenager, the “dumb blond” stereotype brought some twisted form of admiration. It got me invited to the cool parties and landed me a job as a beer girl. I earned a great hourly wage laughing and handing out t-shirts, koozies, and blinking buttons to bar-hoppers. So I acted. 

I tanked my grades and found acceptance in stupidity.

In a moment of defiance, during which I realized my life was not mine, I dyed my hair brown—a tiny slice of time, a small act of defiance. I saw this as so much more. It was me rebelling against everything people thought I was and wanted me to be. 

I wasn't that girl anymore.

Reactions ranged from disbelief to disapproval. Family was shocked. Friends asked why I would get rid of my blond hair. People told me I used to be pretty. My soon-to-be-ex said it looked awful. 

I had never felt more beautiful.  

Then I met my perfect. He had everything I could have dreamed of plus a bit more. I became pregnant and stopped coloring my hair. I expected bizarre-looking roots to start showing. My blond growing in. I was going to be a pregnant skunk. I laughed at the thought. But I swore I would get rid of the blond the minute I got home from the hospital.  

I didn't have to.

My hair grew in a different shade—shiny, beautiful…brown. I had my son. A gorgeous boy with brown hair and blue eyes who looked exactly like his mother. As many new moms do, I spent countless hours staring at my new baby. He tugged at something deep within me. The child I never got to be. The mother I wasn’t sure I could be. 

I had watched women disappear into motherhood, losing themselves in the responsibility of raising a child.

The thing that might have taken away my sense of self broke me out of the shell I had lived in and gave me the self I wasn’t aware I was searching for. The baby, who forced me into the role of mother, helped me define who I was as a woman. Someone I didn’t know. Someone I liked. 

A smart, strong, sarcastic, loving brunette.