When I was in sixth grade I remember seeing someone with streaks of dyed red hair and thinking about how much I liked it. Since then, a little inkling of a notion was put in my head that I wanted my hair to have red streaks. Throughout middle school, I still secretly coveted these red locks but decided to keep it to my imagination. Not only was I probably too young, I didn't think my parents would ever let me get my hair dyed. I remember watching YouTube videos of teenagers dying their hair red as if I to could go out and get boxed dye.
Then high school came around. At this point I mentioned getting red put into my hair a few times to my mom. She was apprehensive but didn't directly say no. However, I don't think she was really all for it. I also wasn't sure how I was going to do it. Even though I looked up tutorials online, I had no clue how hair dye actually worked. And getting it professionally done meant more money. But even so, I became determined to get something done with my hair. There was just something so tempting about have partially red hair.
Things started to change when as a sophomore I was brought more and more into the online beauty world. Suddenly I didn't want red hair. I wanted the infamous ombre style. It seemed like any fashionable person and their mom had their hair fading from dark to light. This became my new mission. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to do this to my hair and her response was "but you have such pretty hair already". At this point I was frustrated. I felt like other people didn't understand why I wanted to dye my hair. I did like my natural hair. But I also wanted self expression. And to me dying my hair to fit a trend, was my form of self expression. It may seem counter intuitive, but this is what I wanted.
After begging my mom, she finally allowed me to get ombre from my hair stylist in June before my Senior year. It was probably one of the most exciting days of my life and after I got it done I was so happy. Ever since then I haven't gone back. It's not like I have had crazy thing done to my hair, but it's always been more than just my natural hair. I find I'm most happiest with how I want my hair to look.
This brings a certain empowerment. Changing your hair color can been seen as the opposite. It can be seen as changing your hair to fit societal standards. But for me, I see it as a good change that let's me decided what to do with my body. Hair is hair. It grows back most of the time. Because of that, it is the easiest form of self expression. Really anything you do with hair can be a way of empowerment. Getting my hair dyed wasn't a rebellion. Rather it was me trying to find my sense of style.
There should be less of a stigma for dying hair. When I was younger, I was told never to dye my hair because my natural hair was already pretty. I remember being scared that I would never be able to get back my natural color if I dyed it. Looking back I don't understand my fear. I have never once regretted having my hair bleached or colored. Instead, I recommend it. If you ever need a change in your life, do it with your hair. Whether you cut it short, dye it blue or simply get a trim, hair can be more empowering than one might think. Taking control over the simplest things can make a world of a difference.
So as I look back onto my younger self who wanted red streaks in my hair, I can't help but to think about how happy she would be with my hair transformation today. I always wanted a change because my younger self knew that I wasn't happy with plain. I wanted more. There is nothing wrong with natural hair. But it just didn't work for me. So instead of listening to what others told me, I took a chance. And I'm so happy I did.
For more hair empowerment stories: Sarah's story