I first colored my hair when I was 12 years old. I carefully picked-out a box of burgundy-red hair color from the drugstore after school one day when my mom took us in there to grab a few essentials. I snuck up to the counter with money I’d saved up and bought it when she wasn’t looking. I got it home and read the instructions carefully. While my parents were upstairs making dinner and playing with my siblings, I was downstairs in my bathroom, changing my appearance permanently for the first time. I applied the orange-colored liquid to my shoulder-length caramel light brown hair. I waited 30 minutes and got back in the shower to rinse it out. It smelled like cat pee and stung my eyes when the water hit my head releasing more fumes. I conditioned with the provided tube of moisture, and then hopped out of the shower so fast I fell over the edge of the tub and caught myself on my elbows. I got up, wiped the steam off the mirror and looked at myself. I was beautiful!
I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things we do to look beautiful, and I’ve been thinking about being in touch with my body, my spirit, my true self. As a stylist, my number one priority is not to make people stylish, but to help people find the look that makes them feel the most like themselves. At 12 years old, I just knew I was a redhead and I wanted to see myself that way.
Lately, I’ve had this nagging feeling. It’s a little thing, but its gotten bigger the more I think about it. Here it is: I haven’t seen my natural hair color since I was 12. That glove-clad little gal working ammonia-based color through her hair in the mirror is my last image of me with a hair color that grows out of my head.
These days I have to color my hair about every three weeks or so to keep my gray spots covered. Early pigment loss is hereditary in the Wolf family. I’ve been thinking, how sad would it be to me if one day I’m totally gray and decide to stop coloring my hair and realize I have no idea what my hair color was as an adult.
That thought brings me to the solution:
I’m buzzing my hair off.
Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not having a breakdown, and I will color at least parts of my hair again. I’m a colorist for goodness’ sake! I just want to be part of the process of watching my family birthrite fill in AND I want to see what color the rest of my hair is!
Like any human, I do care what people think, and want to be accepted. I know some people won’t like how it looks, but hopefully they’ll at least understand the motivation.
I have known many beautiful people in my life. They were caring, compassionate, funny, irreverent, joyful, mysterious, magical, and full of life. They were fat, thin, bald, buxom, wrinkly, fresh-faced, made-up, natural, over-done, under-done, stylish, tasteless, and everything in between. They are all my inspiration for being beautiful no matter what kind of hair day I’m having. So, today I say goodbye for now to my fun artificial color and hello to my head-shape and the first look at my natural color in twenty years.
I was a natural redhead, as you know, with truly virgin hair, at 24 years of age… I was told my whole life that I “couldn’t ruin it”, “it’s like your Nana’s”, “people dye their hair for your color”, “you’re Irish”, “it suits you”, ….etc. I didn’t and only because I was afraid to offend my very Irish Nana…and my “namesake”. But I daydreamed about it all the time, like a forbidden apple. I wished, as a child, for navy hair…comic book style…or blood red…or maybe even black…
You were the only person I trusted with it…and I never looked back. You, lady, gave me all that I was afraid of…and opened my eyes to myself. Yes…I am a redhead and now, almost 7 years later, I know that and am growing it back out to my natural color…but how can you be your “true self” without knowing what you aren’t or what you could be? You have given me the courage to try all those colors I fantasized about as a child…
So…you, lady, can do whatever, whenever, to your hair or your face, your wardrobe or your body, and I still see and love you fully and without question. You are impossibly beautiful…and that comes from somewhere other than a bottle or a razor.
Thanks for that beautiful response, Jenny. I think who we are changes as we age too. It’s cool to be able to morph, experiment, etc. At times you in particular have been a tiger, leopard, panther, lion, kitten, sometimes even…fox? Expressing yourself through your hair is an outward statement of the journey inside. Especially for leos!!