Thursday, May 14, 2015

The follicle follies...

I've probably written about this before, but it's on my mind this morning, so here goes.  Last night, I was coloring my hair.  That is a chore I hate with a passion, yet I still continue to do it faithfully.  I am pretty close to giving up on coloring my hair, though.  The funny thing is, the color I use is pretty close to what it currently is naturally.  If I quit coloring, I doubt people will even notice.

Me as a natural blonde.  I was about 3.

Me at 4...

At 5...

When I was a kid, I had beautiful blonde hair that my mom loved.  As I got older, it got darker.  This distressed my mother, so she used to take me to a hairstylist to get my hair "Luminized".  Luminize is a discontinued hair product made by Clairol.  In the 80s, it was still very available and my mom made me get it regularly from the age of about 10 until I was maybe 13 or 14.

Age 12, sporting the "Luminized" look.

As a kid, I especially hated having my hair colored.  The beautician would put the chemicals on my dry hair, then put a plastic bag on my head.  I'd have to sit there and itch and smell fumes for about twenty minutes or so.  The chemicals and plastic bag would make my head heat up.  And I honestly didn't care what my hair looked like.  It was my mom who wanted me to have the blonde locks.  She also made me wear my hair short, which I also hated.  I especially hated it when the beautician would cut my hair and it would end up all over my back, making me itch.

Once I was old enough to handle my own dyeing, Mom quit dragging me to the hairstylist.  Then she wanted me to color my hair myself.  For years, I used Nice & Easy Golden Blonde 104 or else risk being nagged incessantly by my mom.  She'd tell you she never made me color my hair.  That was probably the truth; except if I didn't do it, she'd complain about it constantly.  Besides, by the time I was a teenager, I was used to being a blonde and didn't want to risk going natural.  Not that having blonde hair meant anything for me socially.

Age 17.  Nice & Easy 104.

Age 20.  Nice & Easy.

When I went into the Peace Corps, I finally let my hair go natural.  It was the first time it had been natural in many years and it came out sort of a dark blondish/reddish/brown.  That was the first time I realized my hair had a lot of natural red in it.  For most of my life, I was thought of as a blonde, so it was weird when people started describing me as no longer blonde.

My Peace Corps years were also when I grew out my bangs.  It took forever and was a real pain in the butt.  There have been a couple of times when I thought about getting bangs again, but then I remember the painful process of growing them out.

When I got back from Armenia, my dad was waiting for me at the airport.  He almost didn't recognize me because he hadn't seen me in two years and my hair was darker.  It felt weird to hear my dad say I looked so different.

Age 24... natural again in Turkey.

It took awhile before I colored my hair again.  I started with some highlights in 1997 because both of my parents thought my hair looked like shit.  It probably did, but it was right after I'd come home from Armenia and I was broke and, as I later found out, clinically depressed.  I was also job hunting and wanted to look decent... so I went to the local high school and let high school kids cut and highlight my hair.  It was my mom's idea.  The lady who used to Luminize my hair had recently taken charge of the high school cosmetology program.

That was not my first time getting my hair done in the cosmetology department at my high school.  When I was in the 7th grade, our health and PE class took a field trip to the high school and we got our hair done-- boys and girls alike.  I remember some of the black girls in my class were offered jheri curls, which they had to pay for.  I think we also learned about manicures because I remember bringing nail stuff to school for our class-- clippers, nail files, emery boards, and cuticle nippers, as well as polish and remover.  I remember the teacher telling us about what it takes to be a cosmetologist and learning about the way nails should be shaped (oval).  

I think we learned about makeup, too, though I don't remember what the boys in our class did.  I'm pretty sure that would never happen today.  There would be too much concern about liability-- kids spilling the polish or sniffing the fumes in the bathroom.

Anyway, off I went to my old high school, from which I had graduated in 1990.  At the time of my new hairdo done courtesy of students at my alma mater (and they did do a decent job), Jennifer Anniston was all the rage.  I remember one of the students saying that I'd look "cute" with a Jennifer Anniston "do".  I remember saying I wanted something easy to take care of and as natural as possible.  I left with a few long layers and very subtle blonde highlights.  I didn't miss coloring my hair.  The high school charged next to nothing.  I think I paid $5 or $10 for my treatment.

The head of the cosmetology department, the same lady who used to torture me with Luminize, made snide comments to her students about how I was a "handful" and how my mom was a good tipper.  As a matter of fact, I do remember being a bit of a brat in those days, but hell, I was a kid.  What kid wants to have their hair forcibly colored when they could be outside playing?  I remember the walls in her renovated garage salon were covered with Bible verses and religious themed bric a brac, which I thought was weird.  Lots of macrame and shit...  She was a devoted member of the local Assembly of God church, which was very different from my own Presbyterian church.

I'm not sure why I started coloring my hair again.  I have never enjoyed doing it and don't even necessarily like the end results.  I did change colors, though.  For awhile, I used light brown, which seemed to turn my hair red.  People started referring to me as a redhead, which was very strange to me.  For awhile, I looked a little like Lucille Ball.  I decided to tone it down and be more of a strawberry blonde.  Once again, Clairol came to the rescue.  I had always been a blonde.  But then I kind of embraced the red in my hair... until Clairol discontinued my favorite color, Copper Penny.  I tried other colors and almost gave up until I found a more custom solution.

Me and Bill the night we got engaged.  I have "Copper Penny" hair.

On my wedding day.  Believe it or not, my hair was sort of a dishwater blonde/red.  It was a rainy day, though.

The summer after I got married.  Still sporting sort of a Copper Penny look...  I think I might have used light brown here.  

In 2011, I subscribed to, which is an online service where you can get customized hair color.  I sent them a picture of me with hair colored Copper Penny and they did a decent job replicating the color.  I've been successfully using esalon's products for several years now, but I recently had to ask them to change my formula because my hair was turning very blonde.  Seriously... all the reddish highlights I used to have faded into oblivion and I started to resemble Suzanne Somers-- at least hairwise.

Last night, I colored my hair again.  If I'd really wanted to make a production out of it, I could have used the free formula esalon sent for my ends.  But I found myself getting tired of the process before I'd even emptied the basic bottle.  In all seriousness, my roots were pretty much the same shade as the old color was, except there was a lot of silver sparkling among the slightly darker hairs.

April Fool's Day this year.  No makeup and lots of blonde hair...

Easter 2015.

A couple of weeks ago.  I broke in my new German curling iron and was playing with 80s style Michelle Duggar hair.

This morning, my scalp has a reddish tinge.  Later, after I shower, it will look less red and I will cut the ends of my hair, like I always do.  Somehow, I have become very proficient at cutting my own hair.  It's not particularly stylish, but it looks tidy and even, and no one stares at it.  I haven't had a professional haircut in over five years.

Come to think of it, my mom was always trying to get me to wear makeup and dress stylishly.  She tried to bribe me to lose twenty pounds once.  Offered to buy me a new wardrobe if I'd drop some weight.  All she really succeeded in doing was hurting my feelings.  At the time of her most persistent appearance related comments, I was suffering from particularly low self esteem and poor body image.  You'd never know it to look at me, especially right now, but I actually went through years of eating disordered behavior.  I used to try to starve myself.  Mostly all I succeeded in doing was getting hangry and bitchy and screwing up my metabolism.

Mom would tell me she thought I was "beautiful" and would even compare me to some actress on The Young and the Restless.  I didn't think I looked like her at all, but Mom did.  And she'd bug me to put on makeup even if I wasn't going anywhere.  She ran a business out of our home and would use that as an excuse to get me to cover up my zits.  "What will people think?" she'd ask.  And she said that not wearing makeup and fixing my hair meant I had low self-esteem.  I did have low self-esteem, but my desire to be bare faced and unstyled had little to do with that.  I did (and still do) fix myself up if I was going out.  For me, it's a practical thing.  Why put on makeup and fix my hair if I'm not going anywhere?

My years with Bill, fraught with drama as they have been at times, have been the best in my life.  He is the one person who doesn't ask me to be someone I'm not.  He doesn't care if I wear makeup, fix my hair, or dress stylishly.  He enjoys my company.  It doesn't bother him that when I laugh, I cackle like a hyena.  He doesn't mind that I swear like a sailor.  So, with that in mind, maybe it's time I let nature take its course and quit torturing myself with hair color.  I bet if I went natural, I'd be a natural blonde again.  Maybe soon I'll even break down and go to a hairstylist so I can get my hair cut short.  That seems to be how old ladies are supposed to wear their hair.

Yeah... I am about at the point at which I don't give a fuck anymore.  Even my mom quit coloring her hair sometime ago.  Maybe it's time I followed her lead.  


  1. i don't think your hair looks all that much like J'chelle's.I liked your hair blonde but I like it in its titian state as well.

    I evolved from baldie (hair all over my body hut none on my head) to towhead to stillclearly blonde to dishwater blonde to "I'm going to take matters into my own hand s and be blonde again." . Who knows where I'll end up?

    1. Natural for me right now would be silver blonde. I seem to have come full circle.

    2. I was referring to the curls and peaked, hairsprayed look in the last photo. I ended up brushing it out to look a little more like 2015 and less like 1989.


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