MANE AP­PEAL

Pon­der­ing the power of hair

The Kit - - FRONT PAGE -

I started adding colour to my hair as soon as my mom would let me— even then I knew that my nat­u­ral blonde high­lights weren’t enough for my bold per­son­al­ity. As I grew, so too did my sense of ad­ven­ture. I got my first pur­ple streaks when I was 15, a look that re­flected my Vans-wear­ing drama-kid per­sona at the time. As I started to ex­plore my sex­u­al­ity and shifted my iden­tity along the spec­trum from straight to gay to bi, my hair fol­lowed suit, bounc­ing be­tween long and short, light and dark and once even half shaved—the re­sult of a DIY un­der­cut in my part­ner’s bath­room. Af­ter a breakup, I al­most al­ways do a mas­sive hair change, and if I’m feel­ing down, I of­ten hop in the shower and add a wash of colour to my mane to boost my mood.

That’s not to say my hair has al­ways been a source of fun. There’s a sur­pris­ing amount of judg­ment on peo­ple who show off their locks like a pea­cock. I get asked to show ID ev­ery­where, de­spite be­ing over 25, and strangers con­stantly tell me, “I would never dare do some­thing like that to my hair!” Not tak­ing your hair se­ri­ously seems to trans­late to not be­ing taken se­ri­ously. In my case, that’s par­tic­u­larly true when it comes to men. There’s some­thing about a girl with wild hair that re­ally seems to get un­der a guy’s skin. I once went on a date with a man who dis­liked that my hair was a brighter pink than the first time we met, and who pro­ceeded to tell me that I was too con­fi­dent, and that maybe he’d like me bet­ter with brown hair. In fact, most of the guys I’ve dated have at some point asked me to ac­cept my “nat­u­ral” colour, to stop with the wild pa­rade of chang­ing shades, to be more “nor­mal.” They felt com­fort­able sug­gest­ing which shades they liked best and which they didn’t like at all, or, if the first round of dye was too dark, to com­ment that they looked for­ward to it fad­ing. They wanted to know what I “re­ally” look like, with­out all that pas­tel.

The worst part about these crit­i­cisms was they found a way to fil­ter into my mind, much like my own ir­ra­tional fear of bleach chem­i­cals sink­ing into my brain. For a time, I was afraid to change my hair, par­a­lyzed by the risk of mak­ing the wrong choice and ren­der­ing my­self unattrac­tive, un­wanted and alone.

But this year, I’m in a dif­fer­ent headspace. Af­ter shed­ding my last re­la­tion­ship and trav­el­ling around Cal­i­for­nia alone for three months, the idea of seek­ing some­one else’s ap­proval has rapidly slid to the bot­tom of my list. My hair has grown longer and my colour darker, and I’ve re­dis­cov­ered how mix­ing up a new bowl of dye and hop­ing for the best con­nects me to my child­hood self, the root of who I am. My most re­cent ex-boyfriend told me that if I cut my hair short, he would lose all in­ter­est in me—even af­ter we were to­gether for a year. What kind of love is that? Af­ter years of look­ing free, while feel­ing trapped, I’ve learned to love

my­self again, dam­age and all— and I’ve re­al­ized that your hair be­longs only to you, no mat­ter how you cut it.

“There’s some­thing about a girl with wild hair that re­ally seems to get un­der a guy’s skin.”

Stand­ing tall Alyssa Gar­ri­son, the so­cial me­dia star be­hind @ ran­do­mact­sof­pas­tel, shows off the style cre­ated for her by Simon Miller, KMS global style coun­cil am­bas­sador.

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