I have had blonde hair for a really long time. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not really a blonde. I’m a brunette who has always preferred blonde hair, who also just happens to have a sister who is a hairstylist ;). My dream hair color has always only been a phone call, some chemicals, foils, and a sister hangout away! Lucky me. If it weren’t for her, I certainly wouldn’t be able to pay the salon price for highlights (lots of highlights!). Thanks to my sweet sister, the salon comes to me and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg.
However, I’m starting to work on a change. Slowly, I’m going to start working my way back toward my natural hair color – something I honestly never thought I would want to do. It’s funny how having a daughter continues to challenge and change the way that I think, especially about beauty.
This past fall I started to think about the fact that Riley has my exact color hair, and the fact that no one would know that unless I told them. And this started to make me sad. I started to imagine conversations that I might have with her one day about beauty. I wondered how I might respond to questions she might have. I thought about what it would imply to her that I have her color hair, but I change it. I started wondering how I could communicate to her that she shouldn’t buy into our culture’s ideals of beauty and that she shouldn’t feel like she needs to change herself, when evidence of my failure to live that out is sitting right on top of my head.
I have bought into the idea that blonde is more beautiful. And I have found an identity in my own bleached hair. If I’m incredibly honest, I’ve even been encouraged by the way it draws attention. I’ve been able to hide my insecurities in the roots underneath, and buy the false affirmation that it offers me.
(Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think it’s bad to color your hair, and to some extent I still may. Nor do I think everyone should go au naturel. I just think that I was challenged and conflicted about what some of my own actions communicate to my daughter, and this is one that I wanted to change.)
I’ve decided to renounce my hair religion. My false beliefs. Because it breaks my heart to think of my gorgeous little brunette looking at me and wanting to change to be more like her mama in this way.
I remember being a little girl (probably about 5 years old) and someone saying to me once, “Aww, you didn’t get your mother’s beautiful red hair!” And I remember feeling so sad and upset about it. Because I really wanted to be like my mom and I used to want to have her hair color. My mom does have beautiful naturally red hair.
I started imagining how I would respond if someone were to make a similar comment to Riley one day about her having different colored hair then me. I couldn’t tell her that God made her a brunette and me a blonde. I mean, what could I say, really? “Well sweetheart, you actually do have mommy’s hair color. But I just change it. My hair did look like yours, but I color it blonde. But you shouldn’t change yours! Because it’s so beautiful, and you are beautiful the way God made you.” What would that communicate to her? If one of the ways that God made me is just like the way He made her, what does that tell her about her own beauty if I am not content with mine?
So earlier this week, I finally took the first step (I’ve been avoiding it for months): I got brown lowlights in my hair. I really thought that I was going to have a hard time adjusting to it, or that I would be emotional (hey, I know it sounds silly, but drastically changing hair can be emotional when you’ve found an identity in it!), but I haven’t. I have actually felt so… free. I’ve realized that it feels kind of good to rebel, even if in small ways, against the beauty standards that our culture forces on me and that I hold myself up to.
Yesterday as we were walking outside as a family, I noticed Jordan was smiling and I asked him why. “You and Riley just look so much alike now.” And that made it all entirely worth it :).