Hair Changes in a Box

If you’re a woman, you understand the power of hair. Whether it’s an entire makeover or just changing your part to the other side, we can usually track life changes by our hair changes. We go from “in a relationship” to “single” and we change our hair. We get a new job, we change our hair. We have a big event coming up, we change our hair. We feel unsure of our life’s path and who we are, we change our hair. That last one might just be me (?).

The first major hair change I went through was in eleventh grade. I was obsessed with the 1920s and, to look just like the flappers, cut my hair into a bob. I had it done at Super Cuts, which was not a good idea. It ended up looking like a bowl cut. I was so upset because I still looked like me.

When I had long hair, I was in my really self-conscious phase. I hated being called “cute” instead of “hot.” I thought the only way to be attractive was with long hair. I wanted to be Megan Fox. I wanted to whip my hair behind my shoulder and cause a traffic accident. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love long hair – on other people. My hair is that always slightly frizzy, slightly straight yet wavy hair. I also have ADD and can’t stand to spend more than five minutes on my hair. So there it would hang down, looking pretty bad. I was anything but Megan Fox.

Then I went through my “artist” phase. I was miserable in my first year of college and I’d just gone through my first bad breakup. I dyed my hair black and got bangs. I looked like Betty Page in child form (the curse of having a baby face even in my twenties). I thought I was oh so rebellious. I even bought charcoal and attempted modern art – thick paper smeared in black with random smudges of color. I even hung them on my dorm room wall. My college roommate probably thought I was crazy.

And I can never forget the time I bleached my dark brown hair. I was strawberry blonde for two days before my mom helped me cover the awful job with auburn hair dye. My hair turned purple. I kind of liked it, but my mom insisted I change it. And so I returned to my “natural” dark brown hair.

I’ve gone through a million and a half hair changes and most have been marked by some life event or emotion. If I had the perfect hair, I thought, I could conquer the world. I’ve been blonde, red, brunette and purple. I’ve been long and perm-curly, short and straight, and something in-between. I’ve been side-bang Hilary Duff, full-bang Zooey Deschanel, and no-bang Jennifer Connelly. While I never conquered the world the way I intended no matter what my hair looked like, it helped in its own way. There’s something wonderful about shedding a cocoon-like shell and feeling new again – tabula rasa for hair. If I started over with my hair, I could start over with whatever else was going on in my life.

Today I’m a bit of a mix. And I love it. I’m a little bit Alexa Chung, a dash of Carey Mulligan, but mostly…me. I’ve got my hybrid red-brown, ear-length hair with bangs that are sometimes straight and sometimes wavy depending how my hair rubs on my pillow overnight. I’m 23 and I’m starting to grow out of my self-conscious phase. I’m me with a hint of girl-crush inspiration, instead of the other way around.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up the hair makeovers for good. There’s something wonderful about being able to change your hair color in 30 minutes. And it’s fun being able to chop it all off and start over. While some might think it’s vain to focus so much on hair, I don’t think it’s always about vanity. Sometimes it’s about needing new scenery and not having the ability (or funds) to fly off to some exotic land. Sometimes it’s about taking control when you may feel like you don’t always have it. Sometimes it’s about getting back at a world that seems determined to knock you down. Sometimes a girl just needs a change to get her groove back. And if an $8 box of hair dye or a $5 bang trim can do that, well that’s just fabulous.

- Melissa Darcey