The hair that’s there (or not)

A couple of days ago I found myself standing in the bathroom with an at-home hair-bleaching kit and a box of aluminum foil. The kit, unwisely purchased several months ago on a whim, had been summarily stuffed into the back of a bathroom cupboard and forgotten.

I pulled it out again and thought “Why not?”

More dangerous words, I think, have never been spoken.

I have heard many times that women frequently change their hair or cut it in the aftermath of a breakup, cutting off long hair and making extreme changes. The working hypothesis for this appears to be that intensity of the pain resulting from the breakup somehow distorts the chemical balance in the brain, resulting in irrational choices. Or that, perhaps, since the rest of their lives seem so out of control, that they control the only thing they can – their hair, similar to a bulimic’s relationship with food. Or, alternately, that they are trying to make themselves more attractive to lure their boyfriends back to them.

While I’m sure all of these hypotheses are true to some extent, I’d like to put forth another one. I think, perhaps, that making this kind of drastic change is a way of seeing yourself differently – of re-framing yourself in your own eyes.

I haven’t been broken up with, so I suppose you can consider my hair-altering experience somewhat different, but I’d still like to put forth my little hypothesis.

I can tell myself, a million times a day, that I want to be more adventurous. That I want to take more chances. That I want to make braver choices. I can repeat those words over and over until they become like a prayer. Or a song, rotating around in my head on repeat.

But there is a difference between wanting to change and looking in the mirror to see the change you have already made.

I can tell myself until I’m blue in the face, that I want to be more adventurous. Or I can look in the mirror and see the bright gold hair, shimmering and mixed in with my former dark browns, to remind me that I’ve already made one choice. And that maybe, that choice can lead to another.

I think, or at least, I hope, that cutting your hair or changing your appearance after a break up isn’t a choice made out of self-pity or pain. It’s a choice to make the change you want to see in yourself. To see yourself as the person you are becoming – the person you want to be – as opposed to the person you were. I want to believe that making these sorts of changes is not an attempt to change the way the world sees you, or the way your ex-boyfriend sees you, but to change the way you see yourself – and the way you look at yourself.

Drastic physical choices may come from a change in your brain chemistry, but they might also come from a desire to change who you are.

So make the changes. Cut it off. Bleach it. Dye it. Do what you need to do to see the person you want to be in the mirror every day – the braver, better, brighter version of you.

I am 27 and I can proudly say that up until this point in my life, my hair has been good, well-behaved hair. It has done its’ duty, which is to say that it has consistently performed the task of covering my head.

It has been long. It has been short. I have streaked it blue and purple (and then an odd, brassy green as the blue faded out).

And now I have bleached it.

I can honestly say that whenever I have made drastic changes in my hair – cutting off long swathes of it and donating them, primarily – it has not been the result of some traumatic break-up or change. It has been in the attempt to change myself – to see a new side of myself. It has been the outward symbol of internal change.

Will it do anything? Will the blonde me be any braver than the brown-haired me? Will it make me more adventurous? Braver? More confident? Will it work this time?

I’m not sure. Only time – and the decisions that I make from here – will tell.

I guess we’ll see if blondes really do have more fun.


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