When I was a freshman in high school, I thought it might be fun to tint my bangs pink. Not like deep magenta, but just a few strands of light, bubble-gum pink that I thought would blend well with my dark blonde hair. One of my friends and I were chatting how fun this would be, and I excitedly went home to talk to my mother about it.
Her response was that if even one strand of my hair was a color that did not naturally grow out of someone’s head, she would shave my head. Bald. Even if that meant drugging me in my sleep to do it.
Yeah. I wish I was kidding.
That would not be the last time I heard that phrase. Every time I commented about a different hair color, those words would be tossed in my direction. When I finally did dye my hair a lighter shade of blonde at the beginning of my sophomore year, I was again reminded of our “deal”. Blonde was fine. Nothing else.
I’m 45 years old now and I’m still afraid to color my hair a non “normal” hair color. Last year when I went lighter blonde with a few black streaks, I had a pit in my stomach the entire time the dye was in my hair. I’d love to have a pink or a purple in my hair but I’m almost paralyzed by the idea that I’d be doing something “bad”.
I posted a picture of my “dream hair” on Facebook. My friends, a lovely and wonderful group of people, were SUPER excited and encouraging me to go for it. “It’s only hair”, “It’ll grow back if I don’t like it”.
But it’s deeper than that for me.
Hair color when you are a kid? Not that important.
Two things have really resonated with me and forced me to reevaluate my thoughts as a parent this second time around, especially of girls. First, a few years ago there was a big to-do over Willow Smith shaving her head and why would her mother let her do that. Jada’s answer knocked me over:
“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.”
DAMN. Was I pushing my ideas of what I wanted my girls to be on them in their hair and wardrobe choices? I honestly wasn’t sure. Jada’s words made me WAKE UP. Made me AWARE of my thoughts, actions and words towards my daughters. I have learned to reframed how I speak to them about their appearance and clothes, as well as other life choices they make. I am teaching them that they have POWER.
The other item was an article I recently read about childhood is the best time to let your kids be adventurous with their hair – and hair color. They don’t have a boss to impress, a job to conform to, and aren’t bound as much by the pressures of society and careers.
Yep. That made total sense to me.
I’m fortunate that I have a career that I could PROBABLY have different colored hair if I wanted to. I think. But when I really start to contemplate the idea, I get completely freaked out and what people would think about it and if my boss and my bosses boss would flip and would it impact my job? Would other parents look at me as the “strange mom”? Would they be uncomfortable with me being a Girl Scout leader? Volunteering at school? I want to shield my kids from the icky feeling that has now bubbled up inside of me just from the THOUGHT of coloring my hair. Because it sucks.
So when my youngest started asking about getting blue and purple streaks put in her hair – permanently – I told her that as long as her dad was good with it, she could do it. Her face lit up like it was Christmas morning and everything under the tree was just for her. I bought temporary hair color so that she could try things out before we went permanent, and decided that school picture day was the best day to do this. After all, she was wearing a blue shirt!
She loved it. And she bounced out of the house on the way to school this morning.
For the rest of her life, she will have the school picture from this year with her blue ponytail. Hopefully it will remind her of a fun morning that her mom stood on the back deck, shoving her hair through a paper stencil and laughing, all the while we sprayed her hair blue.
And maybe soon I’ll find the courage to do for myself what I am doing for my girls.
If you are interested in the spray chalk (totally washable) I used, you can find it HERE (aff. link).