All that seems to have changed in roughly 10 years is the color and length of both my hair and the bags under my eyes. Oh, and I got contacts. It’s more of a dull but reliable LED than a glow up, I admit.
It’s moments like these I realize I should be very grateful for the greasiness of my skin because it’s transitioned from 20 to 30 pretty nicely which is to say its hardly aged at all, which may be the long-term benefit of the “short-term” nightmare that was borderline cystic acne from the time I hit puberty til I was legally allowed to drink.
I wore some makeup today for a Costco date with Husband and thought I’d take my current photo in that, then I realized that’s not really current me. I do throw on eyeshadow and lipstick from time to time for funsies, but bare-faced is just so much more honest to the effort I put in every day (read: none).
In Reveal today, Adriene asked us to spend time with ourselves instead of on ourselves. It’s a good thought experiment and helped me decipher what I need vs what I want. I want a bangin’ booty, but I need to be physically stronger and healthier. It’s all possible, but it’s good to know the difference and it’s even better to be happy with myself while I’m on the journey to either.
This is roughly what I used to look like at the end of 2014:
I had cut my own hair for the first time with Christmas-themed craft scissors that were a gift from my friend Maggie (you can see the handle under my armpit). I gave myself swoopy bangs and layers, and I was feeling VERY proud. Dangerously proud. Poseidon-threatening-you-with-10-years-at-sea proud. I wanted my hair a certain way, and I never really got what I wanted at the hairdresser, so I figured I should just do it myself.
It was at this point, on an emotional high from achieving something I thought I needed at least a year’s worth of training, a certificate, and two children out of wedlock for, that something in my mind clicked, and I realized: I could do what I wanted with my hair. And what I wanted had never been to be brunette.
I have, however, very desperately and for a very long time, wanted to be pretty. I know what you’re thinking: the girl in that picture is not necessarily ugly, and I don’t disagree. I have learned over the years and in the age of the selfie how to fake a good picture, but there is nothing about me that’s classically or even interestingly beautiful. My face is alarmingly asymmetrical (hence the desire for swoopy bangs), eyes sunken and tired with one lazy wanderer, nose broken and too big, eyebrows a fucking mess, a history of hair that would make year one Hermione thankful for what she had, hair in places that would make a lycan jealous, moles, and for about a decade I had the kind of acne that prompts older women and mall kiosk hawkers to grab you roughly about the arm and try to apply makeup to your cheeks without your consent. My eyelashes, I think, save my look, but to really see them you have to look past a whole lot of bullshit.
And I know this, it’s no secret: while most little girls get told at some point growing up that they’re some version of the word “cute” (for better or worse) I have literally never experienced that, not even from family members. I was a disfigured infant, and no amount of growing into my skull could convince anyone I could grow up to rely on my looks.
Of course, you don’t know you’re ugly just because of the absence of praise–you really find out when people tell you, mostly in the form of little boys who call you everything from Lurch to Pizza to Sloth (I’ve still never seen The Goonies and I never will, fuck you very much, but pizza is one of my favorite foods and the Adams Family is one of my favorite families, so who knows where my head is at.) I was an ugly baby, a weird looking little kid, a disgusting teenage, and I’m an occasionally okay-looking adult, but my body and my memories are the same.
This is all to say that when I realized I could do whatever I wanted with my hair I opted for distraction. The general consensus seems to be that people who dye their hair wacky colors are looking for attention because, I guess, doing something fun for yourself never crosses those uncreative minds. But the truth is, humans are all actually different people who do arbitrary things for different reasons and my reason was this: I think color is pretty and I want to be pretty and if my hair is colorful it will be pretty and also if THAT is what people look at when they look at me instead of my lazy eye or that chin hair I missed, then by the will of the gods my hair will be fucking purple. Also I wanted to take back my hair from the kids in high school who shot spitballs into it. (Yeah, I fucking remember, ex-boyfriend. Still wondering why I didn’t end up marrying you? That’s certainly part of it!)
So in the early months of 2015, I watched a fuck load of YouTube, bought some bleach and developer, and dyed the tips of my hair purple. It was nice, I liked it, but it was NOT ENOUGH. Because like tattoos and (I imagine) piercings, once you pop, you absolutely cannot stop.
So I bleached everything and dyed it pink into purple into blue. It was glorious and I…didn’t take a picture. BUT a month later when it faded, I did:
So just to be clear, this isn’t a searching for sympathy post. This is a celebration post. A post about making a choice and being much happier for it. You’re going to see a number of pictures of me that don’t prove the “I’m ugly” theory above, but trust me, they’re hand picked, and I’m not here to have you tell me otherwise. I’m here to tell you to do whatever the fuck you want with your body because you’ll never please all the people, but you certainly can kinda please yourself. At least a little.
By August of 2015 I had redyed the hairs a couple times and come out with a “bangs one color and rest of it a different color” theme:
I still had some bounce and life to my hair, but then I wanted to change, and I mean like BIG change, so I had to bleach it again because I decided I wanted to embrace my goth side and become a vampire:
In September I went red, and it was probably the biggest mistake I could have made. unless you want to be red forever and ever, DON’T DO IT. It’s impossible to wash or even bleach out. This was the turning point where I really started to damage the hairs. But on the other hand I had this rockin’ Ronald McDonald ‘do for like a whole month!
Then by October I couldn’t stand the way it constantly faded to orange like immediately after a single wash, so I went darker:
I don’t actually remember making this choice, I think I actually tried to go purple and this happened. I really wanted to be purple though and I knew I had to lift to get there. So lift I did:
You can see I have less hair here because…damage lol, but I was still having so much fun! And then I bleached it again:
So that was January of 2016 and I don’t really have any photos of myself again til December 2016. I don’t remember what I did that year except probably played around with pink because that was my only option. Here’s the one time I dressed up in 2016:
In February of 2017 I redid my roots and fully embraced pink. The color I bought was called violet, and the color on the bottle matched the color you imagine when you buy something called violet. The company has since changed the bottle’s color (but not name) to match the actual shade:
Then I went blue because blue is different and why the fuck not:
Then I went two-toned again:
And finally transitioned all the way back to purple:
So now I am letting my natural hair grow out again. I haven’t bleached it in I don’t know how long and I have a bunch of regrowth at the roots. I miss having insanely bright hair (it’s having the roots that bight color that really makes the whole thing pop), but for my hair health I need it to grow out. I still have my ends to dye when they fade, so I’m still colorful.
I was other colors over the last three years, turquoise, green, faded periwinkle, almost lavender, but I do always come back to purple because that’s where my heart is. As my brunette comes back, I actually feel unhappy. I don’t like the color of my natural hair. Where others have these warm, chestnutty, honey, oaky tones to their hair, mind is best described as “mousy” and while mice are absolutely adorable, the matte, almost grey tinge my hair has is unappealing. But I know I can change it, and I will eventually because I can and that’s a pretty great feeling.
Do the assholes who called me names still have power over me? Yep, they certainly do. Their words and actions were impactful enough to make me feel bad then and feel bad now andeven take action to change myself. No, I never learned to love who I am completely. I never overcame those bad feelings and I don’t think I even will. But I did learn to love something I wanted, something that was a little out of the box and controversial, and I’m happier for that. Will I always hate my lazy eye? Yes. Will I always be happy I can cover it up with PURPLE hair?? YAAAAAAS, BITCH, YAAAAAAAAAAAAS!