The Boss Babe Blog
Build your career without sacrificing your life.
A little over a week ago, I took the plunge. A step I have been working towards for about 3 years now, finally completed. I'm not exactly sure when or where my love for red hair began (although I've had family members tell me that red hair is in my genetics on both sides of my family, and it comes naturally to me) but I do know that I have been dying it red for 3 years now, and I've loved it more and more each time. In the beginning I received mixed responses. Some loved the color, others hated it, most people were indifferent. After all, it's MY hair, and I can do as I please with MY hair. I should probably point out that the red hue I started out with is no where near as bold as the red lipstick resembling shade that I am sporting now. Since I've dyed it last, I've noticed quite an intense shift in attitude towards me and my hair color.
The first reaction came from my mother, simply because she was the poor soul who got stuck with the task of dying it. While I was still struggling with initial shock and hysterical outbursts, all she could manage to say is "It looks okay. I promise. It looks okay." That wasn't exactly the comfort I was looking for, but at least she wasn't lying. In her defense, she was probably in shock as well. This was undeniably a huge transition in appearance.
After a couple of days, I got used to the color. No, scratch that, I began to absolutely fall in love with the color. I changed my profile picture to something more recent, simply to give a more accurate representation of my current appearance, and that is when the first blow hit. As I was sifting through and replying to the usual "I love it", "Oh, how beautiful" comments that are so easy to plaster to a Facebook wall, I noticed one comment that disapproved of the new do. "You are beautiful just the way you are" was their stance on the situation, implying that I had only changed the color of my hair do to some kind of self-confidence issues. This is the place where I would like to stop and reassure my readers that this isn't the case. I've struggled with self-confidence issues in the past, but my use of hair dye isn't related to that. I think I look good with my natural dark hair, I liked myself with bleach blonde hair, and I love the way I look with my bright red hair. I would like to think of this transition as more of a form of expression than a cover for some hidden issue.
I was never concerned about stepping out in public, I didn't care about the comments left on my Facebook page, but to be completely honest with you, I was terrified to the point of tears to go to church that following Sunday. I actually had to stop and laugh at the irony of the situation, because I was more worried about being judged by the people who were supposed to be some of the most non-judgmental. When I stepped into the church house, the building was empty. Since I was the first inside, I would get to gauge every person's reaction individually. After saying a silent prayer that the reactions wouldn't be too harsh, people started walking in. I believe I actually said to my Mom at one point: "Oh Lord, they're going to want to baptize me again." The comments were stated as follows:
"Oh Sweetie, what did you do to your hair?" - That one I was completely cool with.
"Um... You look like a clown, no, a Vampire!" - A statement from a child, so it was dismissed, and I also couldn't argue with the observation.
"I need a wig in that color, then no one could tell us apart!" - From the pastor, I think he took it in good stride, honestly.
"I like it, your Mom should dye hers purple." - This is something I have been preaching for months, she doesn't listen.
"I tried to dye mine red once, it came out purple." - Okay, that's terrifying, but thank you for understanding me.
"That's okay, my daughter dyed hers bleach blonde!" - Mine was bleach blonde a few days ago, no thank you.
"Oh, you dyed your hair." - This obviously means your are in shock too, I feel your pain.
*whispers* "Did you see her hair?!" - Come on guys, who didn't? It's pretty hard to miss. Oh, and I can hear you whispering.
"I guess it's okay, kids put all kinds of streaks in nowadays." *rolls eyes* - I obviously expected this.
"When are you going to dye it back?" - Alright, now that one is a bit rude, actually.
"You should have done it blue." - I considered blue, but I think my skin tone is all wrong. Maybe next time.
"I've always wanted mine that color!" - What's stopping you? Go for it, babe!
"That is my favorite shade of red." - Thank you! Mine too.
"Oh God, at least it isn't blue." - I am considering blue. Blue is definitely next now. Thank you.
For the most part, the response wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The older fashioned folks seemed a bit taken aback, and possibly even a bit weary of me now. Two men stopped in their tracks and made a scene of removing and cleaning their glasses, that joke was old before it got started, a complete confidence booster! No one tried to baptize me again, sprinkle me with oil, or pray over me, so I'm going to say that overall they were much more tolerant than I expected. I was left thinking that maybe I should have had a little more faith in the church community, I am a part of them after all.
Going to town the next day was an absolute hoot. That is where the real reactions started flooding in. For good or bad, better or worse, I was turning heads. The only reason we even recognized my cousins at a restaurant was because they were admiring my hair, and I looked up to see who kept sneaking glances. When we went into the grocery store, the guy at the cash register was smiling like an idiot, and I swear he winked at me. I ignored the attention. At the pharmacy, the ladies obviously weren't too keen on the shade. There were a few jokes thrown around that I wasn't too appreciative of, but I know they meant it in good humor. Just walking through the parking lot felt like I was being stalked. With the sun shining and making the red significantly brighter, people couldn't help but stare. It wasn't a bad feeling, but it wasn't a good feeling, and I guess it's something that I will eventually grow accustomed to.
Going in to this, I knew this move was going to attract attention. I understood that some people might initially get a bad misconception based on my appearance. At first glance, if I'm wearing too much black, I look like a punk. If I'm wearing something loose and flowing, I look like a flower child. I definitely don't look like the girl that you would expect to find singing in the church choir or teaching a Sunday school class. My hair color kind of screams "rebellious, dangerous teenager who is up to no good" to anyone that isn't included in the millennial age group. The point I'm trying to make is, that's okay. If you're a Christian, you aren't supposed to be judging people based on their outward appearance. If you aren't a Christian, but you're a decent human being of any other religion, you still aren't supposed to be judging others based on their outward appearance. Unless you have to live with me and look at me every single day, the color of my hair should be of no concern to you. I am still the same person.
My hair might be nearly glow-in-the-dark, but I am still the same girl. I still sing in church. I still do the absolute best I can to teach the children in my Sunday school class all that I know. I still study my Bible every chance I get. I am still maintaining a 4.0 GPA in an accredited online homeschooling program, through which I am set to receive my diploma NEXT YEAR (almost 2 years early). I am still running a nice blog, that I designed myself. I am still paying for my own phone bill, the water bill, and the fees that come along with my website. I am still writing speeches and articles for people in over 25 countries. I still aspire to travel overseas for University, and publish a novel in my name. Dying my hair didn't change anything except for my hair. It's honestly that simple. Through this experience, I believe God has shown me quite a few things:
I can be too vain sometimes. I shouldn't be worried about whether I am looking as good as the person sitting next to me. Of course, I should want to be presentable, but it shouldn't run over into the direction of vanity. This hair color makes me more aware of the people who are looking. Some people love it, some people hate it, just as I've said before. That's the way it is going to be with anything, though. Everyone has their own opinions, and I'm not going to be able to fit everyone's standards. I'm going to have to fall short sometimes, I'm only human.
I know what it feels like to be different. My whole life I have tried desperately to follow the crowd and fit in. That's hard work when you weigh as much as I do (which I am working on for health reasons, by the way) and I've experienced my fair share of exclusion, but never at this level. I can guarantee that I won't be as quick to judge when this is all said and done. This concept applies to the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, and anything else that might make you different: You don't deserved to be shunned for it. You don't deserve to excluded because of it. You don't deserved to be turned away, laughed at, pointed at, made an example of, made a joke of. You don't. While this circumstance is a bit different because it was my choice to make this change, not a condition I was born with, I can still feel the difference. Just because you look different doesn't mean you are bad or of a different species, you are still just you.
The final verdict: Some people might feel like I am over-exaggerating the whole thing. My only answer to that is - go dye your hair this color and look at things from my point of view. There wasn't an over-exaggeration anywhere in this article. It's only been 7 days, and I still have a long red-headed road ahead of me, but I'm kind of excited. This has been eye-opening so far, and I'm sure it will continue to be. All I have to say is: If you see someone, get to know them before you judge them, and if you know someone who makes a change like this, remind yourself that it is still the same person inside. So, I hope each and every one of my readers continues to be beautifully unique, if you have a chance then take it, if you have a vision then make it come true, life is too short to make a habit of ignoring yourself and listening to everyone else. Now that I think about it, I think I'm going to go blue next time.