Why I Dye My Hair

(Topic: Hair-dying, grief)

Dear Friends

If you could have a super power, what would it be? Let’s restrict it a little: If you could have any super power that is trivial and can’t help fix the world…

I always thought it would be the best thing to have a hair super power, able to regrow my hair to any length, really quickly. That would let me color, cut, or do whatever I want with my hair, and then just cut off the part that was different and regrow from scratch to whatever length I wanted. This isn’t a new idea, either. I’ve thought about this since before I was a teenager.


Since I didn’t have the super power, though, I never wanted to alter my hair much. I like it long, and I like it brown, generally speaking – I’m pretty happy with my wavy, curly hair most of the time! Once, and once only, did I do a red dye on top of my brown, while on an exchange year in Germany and exploring options. I let it fade out and go back to my natural color, and didn’t try to extend it. I cut my hair short in college, and then back up to my shoulders twice, but somehow always ended up back where I’d started, with hair halfway down my back, brown and curly.

I like trying different eras’ styles too. This is early 1900s style (I think the picture is from 2012-2014 or so)

What about Grecian-inspired?

Part of the reason I liked it was that I also really liked the Middle Ages, and dressing in medieval clothing. Having long, undyed hair meant I didn’t have to do anything crazy to try to hide modern hair. Post college I started exploring Civil War era reenacting, and there, too, having naturally colored long hair was great.

And I essentially kept my hair like that for a long, long time.

Enter Charlie.

One of the first things I did after Charlie died was dye my hair. I desperately felt the need for a change, and was also feeling like (beyond just losing Charlie, and losing all our plans for his future and our future with him) I’d also lost myself. I’d been planning for 9 months for how I was going to be a mother, and that rug was yanked out from under me. Yes, I’m a mother, but redefined: all the initial plans of diapering and feeding and cuddling were gone. And it took me a long time to redefine that. I think dying my hair was a step towards figuring that out.

I had my best friend come and do it. She understood me, as well as anyone could, and was also one of the few people I would trust to do things to my long-untouched hair. We spend hours in my bathroom, bleaching, rinsing, dying, rinsing… I picked blue and green, MY favorite colors. In a way, it represents Charlie too (his middle name is Peacock, and these are peacock colors) but I picked them out for me.

At first, only the right side, a small section, and growing out from the top. And for a long time, blue and green were my go-to colors.

I kept it long, at first. Sometimes, though, that itch of redefinition would creep in, and my hair is mine and is safe to play with (it won’t harm others), and it is also very evident – in mirrors, in selfies, in seeing my own hair. I cut bangs, and eventually also cut my hair to shoulder length. Then I played intermittently with other colors, too, though staying within that same section on the right side of my head I’d started with.

Still the same section, but tried tiger stripes for a while. Looking back, I actually really like this.

 I still haven’t gone any farther up my hair than where the initial dye job from 2 years ago was – or not much higher, anyway – but I’ve just expanded to the whole circumference! So the line of where the color starts is about 2 years of growth down from my part. I still use it to help settle that redefinition itch, though now it is more about enjoying the color and playing with my image, and less a crucial mental/emotional health reaction.

And on the plus side, that 2 years of growth means I can pretty easily hide all that color in a bonnet, if I do decide to attend a reenactment! ­čśë

My current look! The colors usually blend together, but in this picture you can kind of see the gray (looks fawn), yellow (looks orange), orange (looks red), hot pink, blue, and green.



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