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Roots

I dyed my hair brown.

 

It’s something I fear I will always regret. I’m a natural brunette but I should have never made the plunge. I haven’t seen my natural hair color in over a decade. I started dying my hair when I was 12 and never stopped. I believe that part of hair coloring is the adrenaline rush of mystery that goes through your mind while the color is processing. Will it turn out horrible? Will my hair end up looking a little green? Will this finally be the key to making me gorgeous? I think there’s a deep seated belief in those of us that color our hair that one day we will unlock the magic color that has been holding us back from being beautiful all this time. It’s that possibility, that chance that keeps us coming back for more. And the terrible dark brown roots, that keeps me coming back.

 

Or that’s what kept me coming back, until I went brown. See, I had the best blonde hair. Blonde hair I had worked at over a decade obtaining. Layers upon layers of highlights and toners had created a beautiful blonde. I tricked hair dressers and strangers into believing it was natural. Once my freshman year of college, a girl I hardly knew left a comment on my MySpace page. She wrote, “How come your hair is always the perfect shade of blonde? It’s no fucking fair.” Finally, someone had acknowledged, in writing, the years of dedication, money and damage I had put into my beautiful blonde hair. Then a few weeks later, a friend confirmed verbally that this statement was true. It felt like I was getting the recognition me and my hair deserved.

 

There were a lot of reasons to go brunette, I told myself. Think of the money I would save! The time! It would bring out my eyes! People would finally see the real me.

But none of that was the truth.

           

It took me 2 years as a brunette to find the real reason. The reason that I gave away my prized possession so easily. The reason I let all that color go down the drain. It was because I didn’t want him to think I was pretty anymore.

 

Or, really, I didn’t want men like him to think I was pretty anymore. Men who would break my heart, watch me crumble while they still smile and act like nothing was wrong. I can’t act like nothing is wrong. Unlike him, I wasn’t a skilled actor. After we broke up, I had to field the questions of “Are you OK?” or “Is something going on?” All the while, his smile fooled everyone, he was just fine. But I was something different entirely. I was no longer myself. I was a zombie living in a shell that looked like the old me but with a new sadness lingering everywhere I went. Maybe that’s part of the reason I changed my hair color. I wanted the outside shell to match the misery on the inside.

 

But that will never be the full story. I didn’t think I could be blonde anymore because I didn’t want to run the risk of being in a painful breakup ever again. My soul couldn’t handle another blow like this one. I had to protect myself from this pain. And I had it all figured out. If no one was attracted to me, than no one could destroy me. And no one could be attracted to me if I was a brunette.

 

He never even told me he liked my hair. Or that he liked blondes. His wife wasn’t blonde.  But all my life I had believed that my golden locks were the only way someone could be attracted to me. My hair must be the only thing that pulled men in and made them stay, a modern day Repunzel who got the prince not by the length of her hair but by the golden color. The only thing that could help someone like me land someone like him. And in the end I got exactly what I wanted. Maybe it was my hair that drew him in.

 

Or maybe it was all the other wonderful things I discovered about myself when I was a brunette. After I changed my hair, after the anti-depressants, after the therapy, after I lived through the sadness, I had to find a way to move on. Once the blonde hair was gone, I had to find other things that people might find attractive. My wit, my intelligence, my compassion, my sweet smile, my green eyes. It took destroying me and changing my hair color to realize that there is so much more that is beautiful to me than just my blonde hair. The harder part was finding things about myself that I found attractive. Finding the things that gave me worth beyond a hair color proved much more challenging. But I did it; I found the things that make me great, all thanks to him and my natural hair color.

 

What I discovered at the end of this long road, the end of being broken down and being built back up, is that I like being blonde. It is not the only thing that makes me beautiful, anymore. It never really was. So now, I’m back to the beginning when my hair was untouched. I’ll spend another decade layering highlights upon highlights until I have the perfect shade of blonde. I hate that I let him break me, break my spirit and break my blonde hair. I wish I could have found my confidence and my worth someplace other than at the bottom of a hair dye bottle. But we all have to start somewhere.

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