Pondering the power of hair
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.