The Mirrors of Society

Many families have that one family member who has not-so-nice comments to make about weight, relationship status, make-up or, in my case, my hair.

My aunt, who lives in North Carolina, only sees my family during the holidays, and when she walked into my grandmother’s house for her annual visit her first words were not “Happy Holidays.”

Instead, at the top of her lungs, she yelled at me, “Girl, do you think your hair is red enough?”

In fact, yes, yes I do think my hair is red enough. I am sure my face was as red as my hair at that point. You would think I would be used to it at this point.

I have been coloring my hair since I was twelve. Each of my hair colors has brought different reactions, different snide comments and even slightly different treatment from people around me.

When I was platinum blonde, I was regarded as not quite as smart as everyone else and ditzy. It was not explicit. People did not just tell me that I was stupid because of my hair color. It was more along the lines of referring to moments when I did not understand or know something as “blonde moments” or the shocked expressions I would get when something intelligent fell out of my mouth.

When my hair was black people thought that meant I was goth, emo or whatever the kids are calling it these days. My neighbor who has known me my whole life even said that my hair color was the devil coming out in me.

My shades of red have been the most accepted hair colors I have had. Most of the comments were that it fit me the best out of my previous colors and that I was a little sassier as a red head. The first negative comment about my red hair came from my aunt during this holiday break.

With my frequently changing hair color comes the question of, “Why do you dye your hair so much?”

The primary reason is up-keep. Dye does not last, and faded hair is not the prettiest. Roots come in fast and in a completely different color.

So, I guess the question should really be, “Why did you start coloring your hair, and why do you keep changing the color?”

I think of coloring my hair as a form of self-expression. Why do people get piercing? Or tattoos? Or why do they wear the clothes that we see them in everyday? It is all making your outward appearance reflect the unique and beautiful individual that is inside. This is why I dye my hair. It is not for my aunt who I see once a year to approve of or anyone else for that matter. It is about making me happy with my reflection in the mirror.

Just as I dye my hair without regard to the opinions of others, people should express themselves however they wish, as long as it is within the limits of the law, of course. Self-expression should not be censored or labeled by the mirrors of society. I have been treated differently based on my hair color even though I was still the same person with every shade. At some point, I came to the conclusion that I am not stupid and definitely not a devil worshipper. I am not defined by a hair color stereotype or any other stereotype that society decides should be used to label individuals. I am defined by my personality, my beliefs, my values and my decisions.