On Bleaching My Hair as a Path to Enlightenment
As the child of two Narcissists, I could never have been pretty enough to satisfy their needs for a beautiful child. Had I looked like Brigit Bardot or Audrey Hepburn, rest assured it would not have been enough. Alas, I look like neither and just exactly like myself.
As the years passed and I grew aware of what beauty consists of in my family, and in our culture, as well as the posturings of all of the people (mostly women) who bowed to gods of Revlon and Clairol in order to be ‘beautiful’ to my father, I developed a keenly honed aversion to people who see beauty as an external thing. I decided and still believe that beauty comes from within and not from pancake makeup.
I judged–quite harshly–those women who submitted to the dictates of poofy, bleached blonde, long hair, polyester clothing, and layers of makeup. I opted out.
In fact, I opted out repeatedly over the years. There were times when I submitted in hopes of making my father love and accept me. I submitted in hopes that someone, anyone, I dated would treat me with kindness and look inside of me for beauty. Beauty there was and still is in great abundance, as it is in all of us. And yet…and yet even when I chose to opt-in, wear makeup, bleach and style and dress and put on heels, my father disapproved and men treated me like I wasn’t enough, which is exactly what I needed at that time though I didn’t understand it then.
Fortunately I was born cocky. I thought all of those people who told me I wasn’t enough were assholes. I knew that my hair was brown in a world where blonde was beautiful. I knew that my greenish-blue eyes were a little too underwhelming in a world of doe-eyed beauties. I knew that I was too tall/short; busty/flat chested; long/short legged and that nothing I did would ever get me over the hurdle from normal to pretty, or from pretty to beautiful. At least not for long, peroxide, curlers and pancake makeup not withstanding.
So I wore my straight, brown hair. Eventually, I grew into my gray and wrinkles. I didn’t wear makeup unless there was An Event. Underwire bras became a thing of the past (they still are. Jiggling circulates lymph.)
Then one of my pretend parents insulted my daughter and asked about the status of her penis because the child had decided to crop her hair off. Actually she (the pretend parent) said ‘Are you trying to grow a dick?’ and I was so angry I cut all of my hair off the very next day. Unsurprisingly I did not grow a ‘dick’. Surprisingly, when the woman saw my hair she did not suggest that I had grown a penis. There is a first time for everything.
Who knew that was going to be a step toward freedom? Toward enlightenment? No, I don’t think I have reached a state of enlightenment but I do think I am more enlightened as a result of the cut and the subsequent events. One of which was the decision to bleach my hair as white as it would go.
You know why? Because I became aware of having a lot of judgments about women who choose differently from me. Because I saw blonde women as sellouts. I had all kinds of ridiculous projections about beauty and knew that I had to stand in some else’s shoes for a while. Turns out they fit quite nicely.
I learned pretty quickly that having peroxide blonde hair is a lot of fun. Silly, right? All of those chemicals! All of that money! Amigoingtohavecancerfromthis? But seriously, my husband was nicer to me…a LOT nicer. In fact, people in general seemed to find me suddenly approachable. They began responding when I said ‘hello.’ It was kind of mind-blowing, seeing how differently people behaved toward me with light hair as opposed to dark.
A friend who is a Feng Shui expert explained that dark hair equals power. It seems that people know this, even if they don’t know it, and are afraid of a woman with such power.
So, while I haven’t quite gotten to the point of feeling like Buddha or never needing to eat again because my vibration is so high, I do know this: I no longer look down on women who color their hair. Partly because playing with color is fun but also because I see us, women, in a new light and some of that comes from having lightened my own hair. Acceptance also comes from deeply examining my own shadow around beauty…it is dark in there…and seeing that despite having always thought those people who told me I am not enough are dumb, I also totally absorbed what they were saying and used their standards to judge myself. I have always seen myself through their eyes even while believing their view was screwed! Even while rebelling by non-participation in the modeling of those standards I would never quite be able to meet. Mind boggling, I realize.
I understand now that we do not all have to have gray wild hair to be authentic and in our wild minds. The color of our hair doesn’t change who we are, it simply changes the perceptions of others and possibly makes women a little happier or helps us feel creative or funky or fun. Life in my world is, quite simply, easier when blonde. Things are difficult enough for women. If a bit of 20 volume helps then more peroxide to us!