It’s funny that when we truly want to make changes in our lives it’s often easiest to start with our hair. As part of this little Steampunk project of mine, for photos and such, my hair is going to go through a multitude of styles, colors, extensions and probably a few wigs so I don’t end up bald from all the experimentation.
My locks have already been through a lot of changes, so at this point I’m pretty fearless in the hair department. In colors, I’ve been dark brown to platinum blond. And one time for a brief but hectic couple hours, a mauve-violet due to a “one step too quick” process to go from blonde to auburn. But again, I’m an artist, and after a quick call to the folks at Clairol, I was able to mix one more color in to end up with a more “normal” deep chestnut brown. I liked the violet actually, but I am certain it wouldn’t have flown at the conservative investment firm I worked for at the time. I’ve used Sun-In, Henna shampoo, colored hair spray, Clairol, L’Oreal, and Garnier colorants. And the cheapest, the Clairol Balsam works as good as any other. I’ve also had it temporarily green, orange and pink for various corresponding holidays. And gold hair spray makes blond hair look freakishly awesome as I found out the one Halloween I decided to be Evita, the Madonna styled version of Eva Peron.
As I child, my siblings and I all had natural platinum blond hair. And because we were broke, playing outside was the cheapest entertainment my parents could afford, so we were deliciously tan to boot. We made the “tanning mom” look white. My younger brother and I inherited a little more of the Native American genes, so we had dark eyebrows and long black lashes, which once prompted a note from a grade school teacher to my mother that she shouldn’t be putting makeup on child so young. After a brief explanation of my Polish and possibly Cherokee (wasn’t really sure what tribe my great grandmother was from) heritage, I was able to attend school looking like a petite debutante way before the modern day kiddie pageants. Those long lashes are now blond tipped with a couple greys, but I have yet to use a fake pair of lashes; volumizing mascara is usually enough for me.
Unlike my lashes, my hair needs help in the volume department. I’ve had spiral perms, hot rollers, flat and curling irons to add body to my bone straight hair. I’ve also used mousse, hair gel and some obnoxiously expensive root lifter to give my tresses some height.
And the lengths I’ve had run the gamut from hair so long I could sit on it to so short that I was mistaken for a boy at the “all girls skate” at the local Rollercade. I guess my squeaky little voice that sputtered “but I’m a girl” when pulled over by the skate guard was convincing enough that I could keep skating with the other little ladies. But I was kind of traumatized; I haven’t had it that short since, and don’t plan to unless I’m either suffering from a disease or I am so close to death that I don’t care what I look like. And the whole debacle started when I got gum in my hair and my mother let my older sister, barely into her preteens, cut my hair.
Needless to say that never happened again. I even cut my own hair now, although I’ve ventured into some interesting styles. I let a former hairdresser cut my coif into a deep Vidal Sassoonesque wedge a few years ago, and I dyed it red to boot. The best part was no one at the day job recognized me for about three days. The invention of MTV coinciding with junior high was a match made in experimental hair heaven. I had at different times: a long fade, braids (but I have yet to do cornrows), semi short hair with a rat tail (I was still a little traumatized after the Rollercade incident so it wasn’t super short, but I almost had the longest tail in high school, 2nd to only one of my besties), a new wave mullet (thank you Duran Duran and Adam Ant for the inspiration), heavy metal big hair perms and Madonna’s tussled mess from Like a Virgin. We had so many video hairdo look alikes in high school we could have went on tour. Michael Jackson’s jeri curl, Billy Idol’s spikes, Salt n Pepa’s fades, Cindy Lauper’s multi colors, Sting’s bleach blond and Robert Smith’s black hedonism on his head all wandered my alma mater’s halls.
But back to my hair, I’ve used all kinds of contraptions in my hair. Fascinators, buns, Hairdini’s, Topsy Tail, French twist combs and sticks, headbands, pony tail bands, Bump-It’s, banana clips and claws that looked like your hair was being held hostage.
I like how all these changes affect my mood. Blond is summer sexy. Red is passionate and smart; I dye it red to match my fiery personality I always say. Brown is earthy, intelligent, steady and sometimes boring. If I am in a period in which I need to focus, brown it is.
About 3-4 years ago, I decided not to be so hard on my hair and went back to my natural dark dirty blond and just let grow long, earth mother style. Then I’d started a pattern of a slight highlight of blond in the summer, auburn in the fall and brown during the winter. Different colors require some makeup changes but it’s so worth it. Red hair makes my eyes pop with a greenish turquoise. Brown allows me to do a smoky eye without looking like I just got punched or overslept with my makeup still on from clubbing the night before. Blond, well it makes my eyes look bluer and the lashes and brows pop again like they did when I was a kid. With the advent of this new Steampunk adventure to quote the appropriate Blondie album, I decided it was time to go “Once More Into The Bleach”.
I was also inspired by Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. Those commercials and her “4 in the Morning” video got me going back to blond. Plus, its summer and I like to swim so any other color would just wash out in the pool. I wisely knew this would take a couple steps and months. So one late May evening, the colorant went in and the blond goddess of my teens and twenties came out. But my hair grows enviously fast so after just four weeks, the roots also came out. I was ready to go even lighter anyway. Now I am very close to that little tan girl I was over 35 years ago. Like RuPaul, I’ve gone “Back to My Roots” and I am loving every minute of it.