Dyeing my hair wasn't solving my problems, so I'm embracing my true self

'I wasn’t dyeing my hair for myself. I kept changing up my look to appease others, but it wasn’t even working'

From cut to color to style, I’ve done everything to my hair at this point. 

Seventh grade was the first time I dyed my hair. I wanted my long, overly-straightened hair to be shiny black to mirror my soul — I was emo at the time. After much convincing, my mom finally let me dye it. Two boxes of $7 dye later, and I achieved my dream hair.

I couldn’t believe how different I looked by going a shade darker. When I realized I could transform my look so much by changing my hair, it became an obsession. It was the way I dealt with being bored or feeling off. 

After that color change, I never looked back. 

As the black hair faded, and I grew out of my emo years, I cut it short and dyed it teal. I was just starting high school and wanted to stand out. 

Teal got me what I wanted: a ton of compliments and attention came my way. The next phase was maroon. 

I kept the deep purple hue for a while. Not only was it my favorite look so far, but it was also one of the easiest to maintain because it was so close to my natural color. 

Going so long without a change, I almost forgot I was able to transform my look yet again. It was when I saw an old picture of me with teal hair that I decided to cut it all off again and go royal blue. Then, to add to it, I cut baby bangs. 

But it was around this time that I realized dyeing my hair didn’t actually do anything at all. I always viewed it as a way to start over, and subconsciously, I think I did it to get attention when I thought it was lacking. 

As ridiculous as it sounds, I realized I wasn’t dyeing my hair for myself. I kept changing up my look to appease others, but it wasn’t even working.

The thought that stuck with me the most, though, was that I didn’t know what I actually looked like. I had never seen my natural hair color past the age of 12. 

So I went back to black. I intended to keep it a natural dark brown, close to my hair color so I wouldn’t have to dye it again. I just wanted to be natural. 

The natural look worked for a few years. I felt more like myself than ever. I felt beautiful, too. 

But like all things in high school, this didn’t last, and soon enough I was sitting in a salon chair, getting bangs and going blonde.

Then when I decided I hated it, back to brown, and after graduation, black, then teal again. 

While it was fun to experiment with color and cut and see just what I could pull off, I went back to brown almost immediately after teal. Frankly, I was exhausted.

It’s great to have fun here and there, but I learned to love my natural hair color. As I grew up, I realized that I don’t need compliments or other people’s approval on my looks. I should have never thought I did in the first place.

Not to mention, it was an expensive habit and the results often came out funky. 

I can’t say I’m throwing in the bleach-stained towel forever, but for right now, I’m happy with myself just the way I am.

Reach the reporter at swindom@asu.edu and follow @SaraWindom on Twitter. 

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