Recently, I read a book called Me, My Hair, and I: Twenty-Seven Women Untangle an Obsession by Elizabeth Benedict. The book is a collection of essays by twenty seven different women from around the world with different ethnicities, health statuses, occupations, etc.. Each woman tells her life story in relation to the evolution of her hair. For example, one woman talks about her battles with cancer and how not having hair or having very little of it affected her life.
All of their stories really made me think about how much we can express about ourselves through our hair. It can give away how much of a perfectionist we are, what kind of diet we have, how feminine or masculine we feel, and so so much more.
I started thinking about my own hair story and what I would have written if I had the chance to participate in the book. Here is what I came up with…
MY HAIR STORY
My hair is unique to me for several reasons. Probably the most prominent reason is how it is representative of my having albinism. It is the first thing people notice when they see me and by far my most commented-on feature. Because of the Albinism, my hair has no pigment or melanin. These are the things in our skin and hair that typically cause color. So because I don’t have them, my hair is effectively “translucent” or “white”.
I remember when I was in seventh grade and the teacher had instructed us to put one of our hairs under the microscope. Everyone else’s looked cool and hair-like but mine looked like a giant half cooked spaghetti noodle. It was almost see through. This, of course, added to my pre-existing feelings of being different and weird. I always wanted to blend in and look like everyone else did. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to dye my hair because dye needs pigment to latch on to. So, I spent the rest of my school years standing out.
Here is a picture of my hair in its natural and un-dyed state.
Once I was in college, I came across a hair dresser that told me I COULD in fact dye my hair. She said that all she had to do was “fill” it first. She said that it meat she would be putting pigment into my hair for the dye to latch on to or something. I was too excited to listen. Finally! I could stop looking like a human glow stick. Thus, the dying commenced. It was an interesting first experiment. The poor girl dying my hair did her best but she assumed she needed to leave the dye in long to make up for the pigment thing . . . she was wrong. Because she had done the dying job to look like lowlights, the almost black stripes contrasted with my naturally white hair made me look like a zebra. I was too excited that the dye had worked to care what I actually looked like. Unfortunately for you all, I do not have pictorial evidence of this one but I’m sure you can imagine it.
That was just the beginning of my adventures in hair dye.
Once I got the hang of the timing of the dying process, I began my journey through each hair color group. I have been blonde, strawberry blonde, red, auburn, brown with blonde highlights, green (not intentional), and purple (also unintentional).
Here are some of the pictures of my various hair states throughout the years.
blonde with light blonde highlights
in regards to the green, I trusted my long and luscious mane to a new and very inexperienced hair dresser at a Hair Cuttery. I’m still not entirely sure what she did wrong but it most definitely left my hair blonde with a greenish tint. I looked like a mermaid or someone who dipped her head in a vat of chlorine. Of course this had to happen the week my now husband proposed to me. So now, when I look at the pictures of the day I got engaged, I have a nice little reminder of that week I spent with green hair.
The purple happened when I discovered purple shampoo for the first time and left it on about 10 minutes longer than I should have.
My journey with my hair has been an interesting one. My hair has been with me through all of the hard times in school, feeling like I was out of place. It has been with me through birthdays, graduations, and weddings. It even got a nasty chop after my first big breakup. It is so much a part of my identity. I have changed it with my moods and the phases of my life.
I have finally reached a point in my life where I am proud of my colorless hair. It is part of what makes me who I am and it is unique. This doesn’t mean I won’t dye it again but it is my hair and I am proud of it.
I would love to hear your hair story! Leave it in a comment below or tag me in your post.