When I was little, I had white-blonde hair. Margaret has that same hair and it’s something people comment on: “Wow, look at that blonde hair!” “Whoa, it gets crazy light in the summer, doesn’t it?”
My sisters were both born brunettes, so it was something that made me “me.” I was the blonde sister. The one my mom always told me people would assume was my aunt’s daughter instead of my mom’s. My aunt is six years younger than my mom, so when we were little she was still single and came to visit almost every weekend. I loved that I had this special link with her. I was very much my mother’s daughter, but it was fun to look like my aunt, too.
I didn’t necessarily thing my blondness said anything about me, as a person, (I’m not dumb, for starters) but it was a big part of my identity. Blonde, blue eyes. That’s Jessica.
But, as it turned out, I did have my mom’s hair after all. She was tow-headed as a child, too, and by college it had turned dark. By the time I was in high school people were starting to hint around at calling my roots brown (at least in the winter) and I was not amused.
It still bleached up in the summer, so I felt I could reasonably claim the label blonde:
Then, a couple years later, this happened:
Highlights! A whole new world! I CAN BE BLONDE FOREVER. I’m not a hair dye person. Well, not blonde dye, at least. I always liked my natural undertones showing, but with enough highlights to definitively label me blonde. (Although, even here, that’s a stretch, isn’t it?)
I continued to highlight my hair through college. Blonde the whole time, except for once when someone talked me into red highlights. They were RED red and I don’t have a redhead personality, so it didn’t fit very well. (I don’t think anyone has ever describe me as ‘vivacious’ and that’s how I think of redheads.)
When I was getting ready for my wedding, I went in and said BLONDE. I cannot get married as a brunette. That’s not me!
I ended up being a little shocked at how different I looked. The color was pretty, but it turned out I’d started seeing myself as more of a “dark blonde” than I’d admitted. I don’t regret my wedding hair, and have actually grown to like it a lot as time passed, but at the time it was a sudden change and I was a little thrown. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, but more that I had to face the fact maybe light blonde actually wasn’t “me” anymore.
Once I had kids, hair maintenance took a major backseat. I still went in to get light highlights a couple times a year, but I slowly darkened them up so they’d compliment my natural hair (and grow out better!)
At some point I just gave up and let them grow out. It’s funny, I still wouldn’t have called myself “brunette,” but…what else can you call this?
Yesterday, I went to the salon without much of a plan. I knew I wanted to do something with my washed out, dull hair. I told the stylist I wanted something close to my original color so I wouldn’t have to worry about roots. I usually get highlights, I said, but…I don’t know. Maybe lowlights?
She had another suggestion:
I am a brunette. And I think it’s gorgeous. She used demi-permanent dye, so it will slowly wash out in about 8 weeks, but I think I’m going to go back at that point to make it permanent. I’ll keep it through the winter, at least.
Looking back I find it crazy how long I held onto the label “blonde.” If you look at that picture of me at 14, you could say it’s taken me half my life to become comfortable letting it go. (I’m 29.)
Though, for the last several years if someone had asked my hair color I definitely wouldn’t have said blonde. It just wasn’t true. But I also didn’t like the alternative. I think part of it is I’ve always thought if my hair IS brown, it’s not a very pretty brown. Very mousy. But, as it turns out, you can fix that.