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The blonde girl

January 12, 2010

When I was a teenager my most prominent physical attribute was my hair. Long (at one time reaching my waist) and straight, my hair was naturally blonde. I was not the popular girl. I was not a cheerleader. I wasn’t on any school sports team. I didn’t belong to the school newspaper or the student council. I wasn’t a stoner or a nerd. I was just ordinary, invisible, really — well, except for the hair. It was the one defining piece of me that was inextricably linked to my identity during my high school years. I was “the girl with the hair.” And I was grateful for it. If not for my long blonde locks, I fear I would have suffered many-a-morning trying to escape the pranks of the 10th and 11th graders who stalked the halls looking for the invisible ones. But I truly believe my hair possesed some sort of protective properties.

When I left high school, I maintained the signature look. Soon after my second child was born, however, I noticed that the blonde wasn’t so blonde anymore. “Happens to some women after they have children,” said the doc. It was dull. And I felt dull every time I looked in the mirror. And it was then that I discovered that the personality-enhancing qualities of my hair extended not only to how others saw me, but that that my mood was brighter when my hair was lighter. So began my life-long relationship with colorists.

And over the years, I’ve experimented. Whenever I felt I wasn’t getting enough (of something) from my life, I knew that a quick change of hair color could fix it. I could shift my color, and in my mind, I could become sexier, mysterious, new. And I had full control over the management of that part of my life. During a time when I had two little kids underfoot, there was something very liberating about being able to transform myself from dirty blonde to redhead overnight.

At some point in my life the thrill of change turned into a stategy to maintain consistent color — and keep the gray hair at bay. I think I was about 30 when that shift occured. So, at the advice of several hair-care professionals (and I did try a few) I accepted the routine that included a “single-process” base color — to cover the gray roots– and highlights to brighten the blonde. A process that includes hours in a salon with foils sticking out of my head. I am convinced that’s this is how those high-end salons pick up satellite radio.

My blonde ambition will likely never end. After years of being defined for my “long blonde hair”, and even more years preserving the “natural” color, I think I owe it to myself to be true to my roots…but not in the literal sense. Gray is not the new blonde, and I don’t care how old I get. I’ll always be the blonde girl.

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