At twenty-four, I thought I was ready for a change. I wanted to do something crazy, something reckless, but I’d always been too in love with my natural hair color to change it. But one day, when my blood sugar was low and I was feeling a little wild, I passed by Vidal Sassoon and was like, “Of course!” Transforming my caramel-colored curls into blonde, beachy waves was just the makeover I needed to get out of my rut. “Everyone’s doing it,” I thought, “Why shouldn’t I?”
Two hours later, an empty Clairol box lay on the floor, and a cornflower-haired stranger stared back at me in the mirror.
The woman looking back at me wasn’t Chrissy. This imposter didn’t backpack through Europe the summer before sophomore year of college. This fraud doesn’t remember all her girlfriend’s birthdays with five-dollar iTunes gift cards. This fake didn’t generously give away her super-cute mustard-yellow summer dress because Tammy really liked it and she never wore it anyway, so why not?! It was like I no longer knew who I was.
So began my darkest hour. Over the next few weeks, I would experience what psychologists refer to as “dyer’s remorse.” I shut myself off from the world. I didn’t answer my phone. I stopped going to yoga. I would sit in the corner of my living room, the TV on but just out of sight, crying hysterically and wiping my tears with my hair. I even started cryptically texting my ex from two years ago, whom I’d parted with amicably. People said to me, “It’s just hair,” or, “Why don’t you just dye it back?” or, most hurtfully, “I think it looks good.” Those people weren’t my friends.
Two months into this ordeal, my doorbell rang: it was my friend Tammy. She said, “Alright, enough is enough. You need to take a shower and leave your apartment. I mean, shit, you’re healthy, your parents are still married, you have friends, a history, roots…”
“MY ROOTS!!!” I screamed. I ran to the bathroom mirror, clutching my hair, and sure enough, there they were … caramel-colored roots peaking up hopefully from my hairline. It was like I was outside my own body, looking down at a newborn me from Heaven.
“No, that’s not what I … you know what, sure,” Tammy said.
The healing didn’t happen overnight. It would take many months of therapy, women’s retreats, a misguided pixie cut and grow-out, and rigorous dream journaling before I could comfortably look in the mirror. But when I finally did, I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a mighty long while … myself.
If I could turn back time, I would. If I could speak to that younger me and tell her to rethink things, I would. But all I can do is tell my story and hope that other women out there will heed my warning, take a moment at the hairdresser and ask themselves if they’re truly ready to make that leap.