I love getting my hair done, and I am absolutely blissful about the way mainstream fashion has embraced funky hair colors.
From the time I was about thirteen, I’ve always wanted to have purple hair in some way. When I was thirteen, that way recalled various anime heroines–a short black bob with long purple pieces in the front. Think something akin to Mako Mori in Pacific Rim. I just thought that was the absolute pinnacle of coolness (because it is), and though I wasn’t allowed to put purple streaks in my hair back then, I dreamed of the day when I could go absolutely nuts when it came to hair color.
(were this a movie blog, I’d tell you how this movie taught me SO MUCH about visual storytelling, but it’s not a movie blog)
Purple was out, as I recall, because this was back before wild hair colors were mainstream enough that you could wear them to school or work without getting in trouble for being a distraction. Purple was out, but somewhere around my sixteenth birthday, bleach blonde was in. I remember sitting in the hair salon that I’d visited since I was eight, tears streaming down my cheeks as my hairdresser plucked strands of hair through a net to give me highlights. She kept accidentally stabbing my scalp, and oh my god, it hurt like you would not believe.
But the results were utterly cool, in that late 90s, early 2000s way. Back then, everyone frosted their hair (that’s what we called it–frosted tips, which sounds so wrong now for some reason), and I was part of everyone. About five minutes into my freshman year of college, I chopped off the damaged bleach blonde hair, and the next year, I dove into the world of lowlights. In my mind, I wanted to look a little bit more like Kelly Clarkson at her Kelly Clarksonest.
(she is awesome, but why any of us late 90s, early 2000s kids thought this was a good look is beyond me)
Instead, I ended up with a deep mahogany wash that was SO CLOSE to the purple I’d always imagined. I loved that hair, and I stuck with the deep red for years after that. It was fun to play with, the color of cherries when the light hit it, almost black in the shadows. I could wear it all gothic and serious or I could wear it elegant, which I did for my wedding in 2011.
But. It still wasn’t purple. I loved it, but I still dreamed of purple, and that remained an impossible dream for a long time. Up until recently, the idea of working in corporate America with an unnatural hair color was absurd, to say the least. My dreams of purple hair were desperately at odds with my need to work for a living. Red was elegant and professional enough to allow me to blend in, but purple? Not a chance.
Things happened, though. My career came to a sudden halt when I was laid off from my first post-masters-degree job. I spent the next four years focused almost entirely on the business of getting pregnant, being pregnant, and raising a gleeful child. I couldn’t really afford to get my hair done for most of that time, and when I could, I stuck with a wash-cut-and-dry rather than anything particularly memorable. I didn’t see the point in doing much more, since my life was almost entirely indoors and away from anyone who’d care what my hair looked like.
(in case you are wondering, this is what experts call “depression”)
Last winter, prompted by Kat’s enthusiasm for getting her hair done (her hair is PINK. It’s also enviably thick and falls past her waist because Kat is unfairly gorgeous) and with Kyle’s encouragement, I finally made an appointment to get my hair purpled at a salon near my house. The whole process took a couple of hours, and my GOD, I was so happy with the results! It was a tame purpling, by most people’s standards: I just had them put a wash over my normal hair color, making it glint amethyst in the light. Still, I finally had my purple hair, and I was pleased as punch about it.
Meanwhile, there’s Sam.
Sam had his first haircut a couple of days after his first birthday. He has thick blonde hair that grows like a weed; by the time he turned one, you couldn’t see his eyes anymore. With his Nana along for moral support (and handholding), I took him to a cute kids’ salon in the same plaza as my usual salon. He cried the whole time, mostly out of confusion and concern, but afterwards, he looked so grown up and so handsome.
(I’m biased, I know)
We’ve taken him for regular salon trips since, roughly every six months to keep him from looking completely ridiculous. Our most recent hair salon trip was this weekend, and in excitement for that, he told me that he wanted to have red hair. Not ginger red, mind you. Fire engine red. Crayola red. Darth Vader’s lightsaber red.
(Ariel red, I would have called it, but he is not me)
And, well, I obliged. 2017 is a rough time to be alive for a lot of reasons, but it’s also a pretty great time to be alive, if only because people have, by and large, stopped caring if you have funky hair, whether you’re almost-three or thirty-three. Sam wanted bright red hair, and he got it (albeit in the form of hair gel that washed out in the bath later that night, but still). If he wanted bright blue hair, I’d be happy to oblige him there, too. I love seeing him express himself, whether it’s by wearing three shirts to school (son, I have a lot of questions, but you do you), by taking fastidious care of his (and our) toe jam, or by getting streaks of primary colors in his hair.
As for me, I’ve been watching a woman who works in the same building as me for a couple of months now. She drives a bright yellow car with a license plate that says “B HAPPI,” and her hair is a fantastic shade of turquoise. I figure I’ll take her car’s advice, and with any luck, the salon will have an opening this weekend, and I’ll have purple hair again by next week.