When I was a freshman, I went through the stage almost every girl goes through where overflowing emotions and stress lead to a sudden, drastic hair change. Except, I did it six times. So, when my friends found a tweet that read “idk who needs to hear this right now, but if you’re going through a rough time right now ... leave your hair alone,” they sent it to me.
I’ll admit they were all justified in doing so; my ends are split, my wallet is empty and my hair stylists are just one bottle of bleach away from cutting off all of my hair because it’s going to fall out anyways. I won’t deny that. However, what is healthier than leaving your hair alone is leaving me alone and minding your own business.
There are far worse coping mechanisms than taking a bottle of dye to your hair that are more deserving of your criticism. Rather than vanity I could have turned to vices, given how prevalent they are on college campuses. I can’t just walk into Oak Lane and grab a cup of jungle juice when I’m sad. Instead, it’s a process.
First, I have to practice what to say in my phone call to a trusted, color-certified stylist to set an appointment in my head at least five times. Then, I have to actually call. In the chair, I have to explain what I want to the stylist. I have to hope that they don’t laugh in my face when I tell them I want to dye my jet black, combination hair that I’ve used heat on every day of my life since the sixth grade and bleached more times than I can count to a color all the way on the other side of the spectrum. Whether they agree or not is always a toss-up, but even in the occurrences where they’ve had to suggest a less damaging alternative, I still have to sit in the salon chair for at least four hours for the dye, cut and blow-dry to be completed. Yes, I need the blow-dry too.
The cut can be equally unpredictable. Though I may have my mind set, what it really comes down to is whatever I blurt out when I’m in the chair and the stylists asks me how to cut. Some days I’ll underestimate just how small an inch is and end up not getting enough cut. Some days my hands will have a mind of their own and point to a length far shorter than I expected and I’ll leave the salon feeling like Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka. I fear one day I might accidentally shave my head like Britney Spears circa 2007.
No one knows more than me that my hair needs to be left alone. Yet I refuse to. Making the effort to take care of my hair and save my money just well enough so that I can do it all again a couple months later is worth the comfort. Self-care at its finest is doing something that makes you feel your best. For me and many others, that means changing my hair. Sure, there are clear drawbacks. However, when my stylist turns me around in the chair to reveal the look that they spent the last four hours perfecting as we bonded over family, love and the prime Starbucks drink, I see a new me that can overcome whatever challenges life throws at me. So, to those telling people to leave their hair alone, just like I say to the drivers on I-81, stay in your lane.