Tongue in Chic: Changing your hair changes your life

first_imgOnce I went pink, though, hiding became impossible. My hair was no longer an attention deflector but an attention magnet. Everywhere I went, strangers came up to me to compliment it, to ask how long it took and what products I used on it. Everyone from Starbucks baristas to Uber drivers told me they liked my hair.   I’d never noticed before how much I relied on my hair as a security blanket. I used it to shield my face, a curtain that I could retreat behind whenever I felt shy or awkward. Long, thick and dark, it was a de facto invisibility cloak, allowing me to blend in and disappear.  I’m crystal clear on the date because there are two photos from that day saved in my camera roll. In the before shot, my hair is long, dark and virginal. I’m smiling, though a frisson of tension hovers around my mouth. In the second, my hair is a bright bubblegum pink, a far cry from the pastel hue I’d envisioned. My expression: sheer consternation. I’d sent that photo to all my friends with the caption: “I’ve made a mistake.” It’s faintly astonishing to me that I’ve had pink hair for nearly a year now. It feels both so long ago and like yesterday that I made the plunge. I can say with certainty, however, that dyeing my hair pink has changed my life.      As quickly as the thought came, I dismissed it. Of course that couldn’t be me. I’m not a 5-foot-8 model who’s walked for Louis Vuitton and starred in a Chanel campaign. Also, my parents would never go for it.  But you know what? I’m not worried about it. It’s been almost a year, and I no longer feel like an impostor pretending to be someone I’m not. I’ve fully grown into my pink hair; I don’t need to lean on it like a crutch anymore.  What sealed the deal for me, though, was watching Mi-Anne Chan dye her hair pink for her Refinery29 series “Beauty with Mi.” Here was someone who wasn’t a multimillionaire celebrity or an Instagram influencer; she was just a journalist who worked for one of my favorite outlets. In her video titled “I Dyed My Virgin Hair For the First Time,” Chan documents the process from start to finish, talks about the experience of bleaching her whole head and recommends products for her new hair care routine. When I finished the video, I determined right there and then: “Fuck it, I’m gonna do it.”  Kitty Guo. Kitty Guo is a senior writing about fashion. Her column, “Tongue in Chic,” typically runs every other Monday. (Tiffany Kao | Daily Trojan) On May 24, I walked into Spoke and Weal’s SoHo salon and walked out six hours later with pink hair. When it was finally over and the stylist gave me back my glasses, I looked in the mirror and felt faint all over. My head was magenta. She assured me that it would fade in no time, that the brightness was just to ensure that the color wouldn’t disappear too quickly. I nodded, paid her an exorbitant amount and scurried home in dismay, snapping the selfie in my camera roll along the way.  When we get out, maybe I’ll go lavender. Or blue. Or silver. Who knows? After all, I’m young, and the future stretches out before me, shimmering with possibility.  That was in 2015. Since then, pink hair’s popularity has risen to a fever pitch. Every beauty publication — Allure, Glamour, InStyle — ran articles gushing over the trend. A sea of rose gold waves flooded Pinterest boards. High-profile celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and BTS’ Jimin debuted their new rosy tresses on Instagram. Then e-girls came on the scene, and, well, I can’t say that my decision wasn’t partially influenced by my fascination with Belle Delphine.  Every two months, I go to the salon to touch up my roots. I white-knuckle my way through two hours of chemicals soaking into my brain, dealing with dandruff the size of snowflakes, just so I can keep feeling like that. Well, I used to. The last time I went to get my roots bleached was back in February, and as my salon is temporarily shuttered due to the coronavirus, I have no idea when I can make another appointment. When I wake up in the morning, I notice the darkness at the crown of my head gain another centimeter. I wash my hair once a week and watch the water circle the drain; when I step out, I’m a little more blonde, a little less strawberry.  I don’t remember when I started toying with the idea of dyeing my hair pink. I think it started with Fernanda Ly, the poster girl for pink-haired Asians, and her Teen Vogue cover. Thumbing through her photoshoot, enthralled by her cotton candy-colored strands and thick, blunt bangs, I wondered, “Wow, could that be me?”   But I needn’t have worried; she was right. After a week and a thorough rinse in the shower, the shade faded into the soft fairy-floss pink of my dreams, and I haven’t looked back since. Determined to recreate Chan’s exact experience, I went to the same salon in the video, and even booked the same colorist. I sat in a chair for five hours as bleach ate away at the melanin in my hair, my scalp prickling with the sensation of fire ants crawling all over my head.  With pink hair, I felt … cool. As someone with the personality of a shrinking violet, my hair dragged me out of my comfort zone and forced me to act like how I thought a pink-haired person would act — bold and arresting, at ease in their own skin; someone who didn’t give a shit about what other people thought. Unnatural hair color is no substitute for a personality, but my newfound confidence didn’t supplant my identity so much as evolve it. last_img read more