My first dye job included an intermission in which I anxiously raced to the store on a neon pink floral bike I’d gotten in sixth grade to buy more color with a half blue head. But for some reason, my biggest fear wasn’t flat tires on a busy road, seeing my reflection with a bun in a beanie, or letting the cashier see my tears. Instead, it walking into school the next morning, even if my hair looked straight out of a salon.
In the past two years, I’ve not received a single negative comment, even when my hair was grey or chlorine green. (Yikes.) Yet, no type of support would’ve quelled those nerves the first time I walked into school with a color. If there’s one thing my rainbow head has taught me, it’s that self exploration should always be encouraged and usually, the biggest obstacle we face isn’t the stereotypical bullies in all the YA movies. It’s ourselves.
So much of our self talk is negative. “If I look like this, then she will say this.” “If I do that, then he will say that.” We hold ourselves back without even trying to.
Maybe, getting purple hair has never been a concern for some. Maybe, brave self expression is buying the craziest looking sneakers or the baggiest sweater. Maybe it’s something less visual, and has to do with joining an art class or submitting a poem to be published.
Whatever it is, I encourage students to do it. (Disclaimer, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and isn’t against the law.) We’re high schoolers. We have no bills, fairly few commitments, a whole life ahead of us to shut up, look proper, and act seriously. We have nothing to lose.
On the other hand, while we’re starting all these amazing self improvement projects, we have to give others the leeway to do the same. In general, I’ve found that students are respectful of those who put themselves out there, but for that to continue we have to take part in it.
Basically, show up to school with your poorly dyed roots and high five the girl on the bus with the homemade patched jeans, because we’re teenagers, and in ten years we’ll all hate what we look like now anyway.