So, I’m a blonde now. It happened accidentally, at least at first. I was a little overzealous in bleaching my roots, and suddenly much of my pink was gone. I left it initially for a few days, and it sort of stuck.
It was, sadly, a financial choice primarily. A pink haired model is a distinct model, but not a versatile model. And versatility gets you booked. While some distinctive features are good, having fuchsia hair kind of pigeonholed me into a very specific, non-commercial market. After realizing I didn’t totally hate the blonde hair, and after a couple of eye-opening meetings with agencies, I have decided to keep it, for now.
But oh, do I miss my pink.
There were so many things I loved about my pink hair. I loved the brightness, the luster of the color, and how I could catch a glimpse of my own locks out of the corner of my eye and always smile. It made me feel special and shining. Sure, other ladies had pink hair, but no one rocked it quite the same way as me (or so I liked to think).
I loved the compliments. People of all ages and genders would fall over themselves with delight at my hair. I had a man on the 1 train tell me on a grey, blustery November day that my hair had literally brightened his morning. Men usually loved it because it was sexy. Women loved it because it was almost a declaration of companionship with the fairer sex. Pink is so often shoved in our faces as the “girl color.” So what better way to declare myself a “girl’s girl” than by sporting it on my head? Older people loved it because it reminded them that youth can be fun, and how their early years were a grand old time too. But the best reactions came from children.
On one summer day, a boy dashed up to me at a public pool and declared loudly that a mermaid had arrived. He was so delighted that he ran around trying to get everyone’s attention, as if by pointing me out repeatedly would cause me to grow fins. Children would be fascinated, want to touch me, play with me, and follow me around. I am usually not a “kid person” per se, but those moments I always treasured. The enchantment I saw in their eyes was exactly the reason for my pink.
I didn’t do the pink to be different, or to be glamorous, or even to declare that I’m a feminist punk rocker (though I do aspire to all those things, I suppose). I did the pink because I wanted to look like the mermaid I had seen in the movie Hook when I was a kid. I wanted to emulate the fairies that were drawn in the books I read. I wanted to resemble the magical, ethereal creatures I had so often dreamed about as a child. And in my humble, clearly biased opinion, I think I accomplished that, for a time. I would glow with pride every day when I saw my pink because it felt like I was choosing to live in that world of fantasy, or at least kept one foot planted firmly in it. And when children would respond with awe, I held some small belief that maybe, I had made that child’s life just a little more magical, at least for that day.
Which makes it a bit heartbreaking to have to give it up, even though it was an opportune time.
And yet, I remember a time before my pink, when similar things occurred. I was born a blonde, and I remember from when I was around 13 a little girl put a crown on me and then whispered in hushed tones that I must be a princess. I remember when I had red hair gathering children around me to tell them stories and have them hanging on my every word. Perhaps it wasn’t the pink hair, or even me at all. Perhaps most children, or indeed all of us, have a buried sense of wonder waiting to be cultivated, and I recognize that because I’m a storyteller at heart. Perhaps most of us, young and old, yearn for a little sparkle and whimsy in our life, and I have just been fortunate enough to inspire that in others occasionally.
I will probably go back to wearing my hair pink again, when my modeling career has waned and I can safely return to being a bit rebellious. But as I was told by an agency “you don’t need the pink hair to be distinct.” And I realized that for all its beauty and gumption, I was actually using my pink hair as a shield. In some ways, that shield wasn’t too problematic; for example, I could usually count on street harassers focusing on my hair instead of my secondary sexual characteristics, so I was saved a lot of degrading comments. However, I was also holding on to the pink hair as a counteractive safety blanket. If I kept it, I wouldn’t have to really try hard in my modeling. I was limited, and it felt safe to have a limit that was self-imposed. Because then if I failed, I could point to this conscious choice.
So I decided to be brave, and try to succeed for real. So far, I’ve had moderate success, but it feels so much better. I’m trying with all my might now. I’m operating without a safety net.
And you know, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I need my pink hair to really be me. It might seem counterintuitive to keep my website as “pinkhairedperson.com” when my coiffure is no longer of that hue, but to me it makes perfect sense. I will always be that pink haired person, that starry eyed girl that loved to encourage happiness, excitement, and imagination in myself, and others. I will always have that inside of me, but how I choose to express it will certainly always change.