Blonde is having a moment, in a very unusual way. Lately, so many stars have dyed their hair blonde—and almost all of them have been very unexpected. Kristen Wiig, Azealia Banks, Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet. 2014 might be the year of the non-blonde blonds. And as a non-blonde myself, it’s inspired me.
Naturally, I’m a brunette, and until about a year ago I’d never dyed my hair at all. I’ve always been attached to my hair, and as someone with fairly unusual looks, it never occurred to me that I might be a blonde. I have large facial features, am on the pale side, and have enormous black eyebrows. I couldn’t fathom that a halo of blonde hair would make me look anything but inconsistent.
But after I read Zosia Mamet’s explanation about her own decision to go blonde, I started changing my tune. She said:
Women in my family have incredible attachment to our hair. We all have very thick hair, and for a very long time, all of us had long hair. My identity felt wrapped up in it. As women, we often attach our femininity to our hair. And that’s not what makes us feminine. I sort of just wanted to cast that off. It’s just hair!
Like Mamet and so many other women, I’ve always felt that my identity, my femininity are tied to my hair. I’ve had short hair before, yes, but blonde hair always felt off limits. For some reason, blonde felt reserved for super conventionally attractive women. As a Normal, it felt like going blonde might make me look as though I was trying to hard, or be so unnatural that my hair would become a punchline. God forbid I look funny: you can’t have your looks be both a punchline and attractive.
Mamet hit the nail on the head when she said that we attach our femininity to our hair, and I realized the thought of going blonde brought up so many insecurities about my appearance. But I really loved the idea of having some dramatic change to my appearance (#QuarterLifeCrisis) and Mamet’s words kept echoing in my head: “It’s just hair.” So though the thought of my face framed in cornsilk sending a shiver down my spice, I booked the appointment.
I was terrified the day of my appointment. But I’d made the wise decision to consult an amazing professional, artistic director Luis Payne from Hairroin Salon in New York. He is known for doing some amazing blonde hair jobs, so I felt that I could trust him to guide me through my change and help me defy nature without becoming too much of a laughing stock. He was stoked to take me blonde, and I was surprised and comforted that he didn’t have any doubt that I could pull it off. I explained my nerves to him, and he helped me understand how I could get a look that would seem natural on me. So I took a skeptical deep breath, and he got to work.
Several hours later, the foil came off and my wet hair was completely platinum. And I was immediately shocked to discover that I loved it. I kept thinking “I look like Draco Malfoy … in a good way!” By the time he was done blow drying my hair, I was convinced I’d never not be blonde for the rest of my life.
I didn’t have a panic attack. No one made fun of me. My hair didn’t fall out. I have gotten absolutely zero “you’re trying too hard” side eyes. Nothing in my life changed. Turns out there’s no secret blonde club of which Gwyneth Paltrow is the president, and no one has said “You can’t sit with us.” What going blonde has really taught me is that, not only can everyone pull of blonde if done right (I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t have felt so good if I had tried to bleach it myself), but that hair really is just hair. Blonde hair is also just hair. And, most importantly, you shouldn’t assume you can’t “pull off” something just because you aren’t a supermodel.
Maybe I’ll try a crop top next.