So I have a secret super power. I mean other than my ability to tear through denim with the sheer awesomeness of my butt. I somehow, have the ability to only screw up my hair in ways that other people think looks fabulous. It’s taken me a while to recognize it, but it’s time I own it.
The first time it happened was just after I’d graduated from college. I had used some supposedly temporary hair dye to darken my hair. My hair is already pretty dang dark, so I’d gone with the blackest brown I could find.
After a couple months of super dark hair, my supposed-to-be-washing-out hair dye still wasn’t washing out.
I decided that, well, I wasn’t getting my natural hair color back anyhow, so I might as well try something different. The Mr. and I lived in an apartment directly behind a grocery store and, at 11:30 at night, we decided, in a fit of boredom, to dye my hair.
Because all good beauty choices come at 11:30 at night with nothing better to do. Obviously.
My hair naturally has some red undertones in it, and I’d always wondered what I’d look like as a red head, so we grabbed a box of permanent red hair dye and set to work.
Now, if you’ve used hair dye to any extent, you probably know what’s coming next, but up until that point I’d been more or less a “real” dye virgin. I’d screwed around with temporary dyes that washed out in a week or two, but hadn’t even gone semi-permanent before this. I was under the impression that permanent hair dye was like a nuclear bomb that obliterated all previous color in its’ wake and made the color on the box happen.
Turns out it doesn’t work that way. I still had that black dye in my hair, and because I’d waited a few months, I now had a good 2 inches of roots. So when we finished, I had black hair…with a skunk stripe of bright red anywhere I tried to part it. I panicked. We bought dye stripper and we bought peroxide (I figured I could always bleach it all and then color it back to something near a real color). I dumped both of them on my head and prayed…and wound up looking like a calico cat.
My hair had been below my shoulders and now it was dry and brittle and had splotches and stripes of black, red and blonde all through it. I figured the only thing left to do was chop it all off and start over.
After the cut, my would-be sister in law, who was in cosmetology school at the time, asked where I had gotten my highlights done. I may have laughed a little hysterically while I told her the story.
I left my hair alone for quite a while after that. I eschewed dyes. I let it grow. I conditioned and avoided heated styling tools. I did what I could to make it up to my hair.
But then G came along.
I didn’t want to have to deal with babying my hair while learning how to baby…well, a baby, and it had grown fairly long, so I cut it all off and gave it away
. I figured if I didn’t want it, I might as well give it to someone who did.
The first cut turned out wonderfully. I went to a nice salon about a week before G was born and I was really happy with how it turned out. It was pretty similar to the cut in the picture above. The second cut…well, the second cut, I figured that all the person had to do was follow the cut the first person had given me and all would be well.
Right now you’re probably looking at the picture and thinking “hey, that doesn’t look so bad, what is she complaining about?” This picture was taken a month and a half after the haircut. And my hair grows fast. They completely sheared me. My hair was shorter than my Mr’s. I refused to allow pictures to be taken for a month…it was that bad.
So, being the clever bird that I am, I decided now was the time to try out dye again. It went so well the first time, obviously nothing could go wrong this time, right?
My hair was only like 3 inches long total, so I thought, hey, I’ll just bleach it blonde and then play with all the other colors I’ve wanted to try over the years from there. I’ll be able to grow it out in a few months anyhow.
Too bad my hair had other ideas.
The bleach barely worked and I wound up with only slightly lighter brown hair. Which means after growing my hair out for a year, I am now, accidentally, rocking the “ombre” hair trend that all my fashion magazines tell me is totally “in”.
My final evidence that the more I think I’m screwing my hair up the better it looks came last Friday. A good friend of mine from high school had come to visit a few days before, and had helped me to figure out why it is my French braiding of my own hair always turned out inside-out. As a result, I’d spent the whole rest of the week attempting to braid my hair correctly.
Friday morning rolled around and I made another attempt at a French braid and threw my chain headband on with it. It was this hair
. The picture in yesterday’s post
is the same ‘do with a week’s more practice at braiding.
My hair was dirty, the braid was loose and nearly falling out. I considered it a failure, but it kept everything out of my eyes, and I figured the other moms wouldn’t kick me out of mom’s group for messy hair. You can imagine my surprise when they raved about my “fancy” hairdo.
My point in all this is (and believe me, I understand that this has been a yammering and indirect way to get there), we tend to be quick to label ourselves failures. We have set ideas of what success is and how we should get there, and we beat ourselves up when we stray from that path.
We blind ourselves to the beauty and happiness we can have in our lives by setting up unrealistic goals that don’t take our own qualities into account. We do this with hair, we do this with weight, we do this with clothing. We do it with less tangible things that mean far more.
I’m not a hairdresser. I’m never going to have my hair turn out the way I expect it to when I open a box of dye or try to execute a fancy up-do. If I expect to be able to do what a hairdresser can do, I will be
disappointed every time. I’m not a bombshell. If I expect my boyish body to fill out Jessica Rabbit curves, I will be disappointed every time. I’m not a lot of things that seem like they’d be nice to be, but I also am a lot of things that I love being.
I’m learning to stop fighting against myself. I’m pretty awesome, even when I try my hardest to jack things up. I unintentionally highlight my hair and throw it into gorgeous messy styles without meaning to. I bet, if I stop trying so hard, I can find all kinds of other things I’m accidentally awesome at.
And I bet you can too.