How Highlighting My Hair Highlighted My Insecurities and How I Coped

Yesterday, I got my hair-highlighted. Woohoo! Standing ovation for Gila. Seriously, though, what’s the big deal?

On the one hand, I always valued my natural color and having a natural look and I only started highlighting my hair as a form of rebellion in my twenties (my teens were quite lame!).

That first time, I actually got lowlights — a reddish tint. That was fun!

But my real dream had always been to have blond hair. Maybe it was because I related a lot to Phoebe on Friends — while I was a very good student, I embraced my ditzy side, and I wanted my classmates to as well instead of just seeing me as a serious student and nothing else. Plus, blondes are hot, and they really can have more fun! I wanted to have that look!

When I did get blond highlights for the first time, I was so happy each time I glanced at my hair and saw blond strands. I was living the dream!

Fast forward four years later, and I am sitting in the hair salon getting my hair highlighted for the 4th time. I had taken a break from highlighting my hair when I grew it out for the up-do that I wore at my wedding. Here I was, two years after my last highlighting job, excited to feel the rush and embrace the enlightening change once again!

I advised the hair dresser to make the highlights more gold than blond. I really did want gold highlights. But when the process was complete and I looked at my hair, while I was super happy with how the gold highlights looked, there was a part of me that yearned for blond highlights as well.

I guess, I should have expressed that to the hair dresser. Yet, if I hadn’t expressed it, perhaps I really did want only gold all along. Maybe I was simply nostalgic for blond hair, but knew it wasn’t the look I was going for.

The point is, while I could have perhaps gotten more of a mix of gold and blond, in reality I cannot have two things simultaneously. I cannot have beautiful, warm, gold highlights, and also have a more platinum blond look – they are just not compatible. And I know from the past, my complexion looks much better with warmer, golder tones, than blond ones. Heck, growing up my grandmother always reveled that I had natural gold highlights — and I always loved that so much!

I have a tendency of wanting to keep all the doors open, to be able to hold as real all the dreams that I have in life.

As an adult, I have learned that we have to pick what we want, commit to it, and then channel our energy towards supporting it. Continuing to long for blond streaks is not healthy, and it makes me feel very distant and unhappy with myself.

In the end, I found greater peace with my current new look, when I posted my before and after photo on Instagram. By playing with the filters and brightness level, I was able to highlight my highlights. This made me feel very self-assured, since my self-esteem has been slashed down by a society ruled by Photoshop and the marketing of “real” images of celebrities and “reality” TV (C’mon, that is anything but real). Maybe, I didn’t get the most perfect highlights that I ever imagined –but I got something better – the invitation to, within normal limits, tweak and edit my image before presenting it to others. I reinforced the lesson that I have been learning more and more as an adult: that nothing is really as perfect as it seems and what we see in life, is not the full picture; it’s not the raw footage. Growing up, I judged myself so harshly for not living up to standards that were impossible to meet, because they weren’t real. If I am ever going to survive in this world, it is with the understanding that I can allow myself to invite play into my life, and not take everything so literally.

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