Tangled Up In My Hair

Almost all of us have a part of our body we truly despise. I could tell you I hate my chubby rolls or my big booming breasts. But most of all, I have an ugly-affair with my hair! It all started 19 years ago.

My mom took my sister and me to a beauty salon. There I was, waiting with anticipation and delight to transform my brunette mop to beautiful bouncy blonde tresses. It was my very first time dying my hair. Who would have thought this would later become a ritual that would cost me years of tears, cash, and an obsession that makes even my shrink question my level of sanity.

I was proud of my newly-dyed hair, for it meant my mother had finally decided I wasn’t a baby girl anymore. The excitement lasted for about two weeks when the dark roots started to show again. From that moment I knew – I would be a slave of this magic chemical.

What is it that coerces women into tampering with their hair? I’ve been pondering this question lately. If I was to write a novel, its’ title would be:

“The true meaning of dying your hair and life!”

Is there an inexplicable and indelible connection between dye products and our souls? Some women spend their time, money and energy obsessing over fashion and shoes. For me, hair is everything. I’ve changed my hair color this year more times than most men change their underwear in a year. You name it; short, long, curls, straight, brunette, black, bright red, brown, blonde, platinum blonde, I’ve covered all hues. I figure God must love me because I haven’t gone bald yet.

Every day I receive comments about my hair:

“Steph, you change your hair color every day!”

It’s always funny when it is obvious that someone has had a haircut and others feel obliged to let the person know;  “You got a haircut”.

I always want to say, “Did I? I didn’t notice!.” But I am never brave enough to go through with it.

My therapist even suggested the notion of me changing my hair color so often linking to changes in my emotional turmoil. As coincidental as this concept may sound, there are a few aspects that I found interesting. I read an article about the psychology behind changing your hair color and based on studies, women who dye their hair bright colors are often risk-takers. They need to make a statement and stand out from the crowd.

Dr. Diller believes that “The desire to enhance our looks is natural.”

He reiterates, “Who doesn’t like a new lipstick or hairstyle? But the compelling need to change the outside to feel better on the inside is a slippery slope.”

The realization that I may, in fact, be on this slippery slope cut me deeply.For years I refused this notion that I was relying on external remedies to heal myself on the inside. But, I realized by dismissing this idea I would be lying to myself. If I delve deeper, perhaps I actually wanted to exchange my skin for a new color but I lived out this dream by terrorizing my hair.

Each time I covered my hair with a new tint, I had to ask myself, “What else am I covering?”

For many years, I suffered from self-harming, hating how I look and hating myself for ‘hating myself’. Chopping off my hair felt far healthier than leaving painful marks on my skin. With a new hair color, I could feel different, more spontaneous, and vibrant. But after a while, I would be depressed again.

It doesn’t matter if you wear expensive clothes, amazing shoes, and have the most on-trend hair in the world. If your soul is empty, nothing materialistic can ever fill that void.

So, do guys really prefer blondes? Honestly, who cares? Blonde, brunette, or purple, it’s what lies beneath that counts.

I understand “hot tamale” might not be the best option for hair color, but primarily we must love ourselves from the inside out instead of pinning the best of hopes on our bodies.

Photo: ©Stephanie Ortez All Rights Reserved

  1. Awesome, Stephanie. But you have a beautiful soul. That shows through no matter what color your hair is, what style, and whether you have “roots” or not.

  2. This is a great essay, Steph. I never thought about things this way before you and I spoke of it. You’ve done a beautiful job of explaining things to people who may not understand, and you’ve done it in a gorgeous way. Love this piece.

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