Gender & Identity, Life

I can’t seem to stop changing my hair and I don’t know why

You'd think with the amount of times I've bleached my hair I would have figured it out by now.

When I was fourteen I dyed my hair for the first time in my friend’s bathroom with a manic panic dye. We tried to ombre the blue on the bottom of my hair and somehow managed to not get dye everywhere. I felt cool and edgy. When we washed it out and it dried I couldn’t stop twirling the unnaturally colored hair around my finger. I threw all my hair into a bun and put on hat, prepared to shock my mom when I got home.

Dramatically, I entered the den she and my brother were watching a movie in and whipped off the hat in a big reveal. My mom raised her eyebrows slightly and my brother yelled in shock. Which was not the reaction I expected. All she said was “is it permanent?”

It wasn’t, and a week later it was completely gone from my hair and my flirtation with the edgy side was over for at least a year before I tried again.

Since then I have had a lot of different hair colors. I’ve pretty much covered the rainbow in pastel colors, gone completely white, and then completely red. Each time its a rash decision, with a dash of boredom and too much free time. And I have tried to stop. I really have. After three years of constant bleaching and coloring I was genuinely curious what my natural hair color even was. So I stopped bleaching and let it grow. For two years I managed to keep my natural roots growing, only adding different pastels to the already bleached hair at the bottom.

But I got bored.

A lot.

I would eye the dye section in Shoppers and wonder if I should snag a box on rainy afternoons constantly. Something in me just can’t seem to stop wanting to fuck up my hair and I cannot figure it out.

Maybe it’s the fact I like to look different. I don’t want to blend in like a robot. I like weird patterns and wearing old jeans that are way too big for me. Growing up in Vancouver it was all about finding the new thing before anyone else. The new craze, style, or music. It was better if people didn’t know where you bought something or how you found that artist. Maybe the fact I have to reinvent my hair every six months is just my constant need to be new and different than I was before.

When I dyed my hair blue for the second time it was when I had blonde hair (bleached from my natural brunette). I liked it but soon after everyone was turning blonde. The weather was warming up and suddenly it seemed like every day there was a new blonde in one of my classes. So one day I drove to Sally’s, stared at the boxes of Ion Semi-Permanent dyes until I found one called Shark Blue. It was a grey toned pastel blue and it looked like nothing I had seen before. So I bought three and by that evening I had blue-grey hair.

Or maybe it’s because I’m not actually original. Maybe I don’t have any new ideas and I’m not really different. The only reason I even get ideas is because I see something somewhere else. I was blonde maybe a bit ahead of the season that everyone seems to turn blonde but it was still the blonde turning season. Maybe everything I see and want just gets filed away in my brain for later. After all, there are no new ideas under the sun. When I dyed my hair red I had been watching this Youtuber with beautiful, long red hair, that was always styled perfectly. Sure, maybe I had the idea myself. Or maybe I just wanted to look like her.

Maybe it’s neither of those. Maybe dying and changing my hair has just been my way of lashing out. As a kid I was always told to look presentable, never put my elbows on the table, the usual stuff. But as I got older I got angrier and more self-conscious. My mom trying to “fix” my hair seemed to me her insulting the way I did my hair. Her comments on my outfits were just her concerns that I would go out not looking good but they were clothes I liked and I was comfortable in, so to my ears she was just calling me ugly. Rather than conform and have her fix my hair or change my shirt, I would bleach the life out of it and go to thrift stores just to find an extra large shirt. If she didn’t like blue hair then I would dye my hair blue three more times. If dressing and looking how I wanted was ugly then I was going to be the ugliest motherfucker in the room.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s none of these. Maybe I dye my hair because I want to and it’s as simple as that. There is no answer to why because I don’t know why I want to do it so badly. What I do know is that with every cut and every color I have never once regretted the outcome.

  • Audrey Schmidt

    Audrey Schmidt is currently a biology student at York University in Canada. She has been writing since she was a kid and learning for longer. She likes asking questions just a tad more than she likes hearing the answer.