Riley from Their Luminous Life (a non-binary lifestyle brand) is stopping by to brush through our split-ends when it comes to lightening up our life and self-identity. This beautiful soul writes about living with confidence and kindness so if you read my book, Rainbow Revolution – you’ll totally appreciate this guest post as well as our mutual attraction to coloring our hair with purpose.
HOW BLEACHING MY HAIR LIGHTENED MY LIFE
When I was about 9, I swam too long in my cousin’s chlorinated pool, and emerged from the water with green-tinted hair–and a horrified look when I realized what had happened. With a limited understanding of… well, most things at 9 years old, I thought I’d be spending the rest of my life with green hair. My mother assured me it’d go back to normal in a few days–I just needed to wash it out. I’d never been so relieved.
I never particularly liked my hair color. It’s naturally a dark blonde/light brown, and I hated that in-between status. I always wished it wasn’t so in-the-middle. I needed to either lighten it or darken it, I thought.
Now, I think it’s important to be as secure with where you currently are in life as you possibly can, lest you create for yourself a “grass is always greener”, “I’ll be happy when…” mentality. And I’m happy to say that before dyeing my hair for the first time, I had come to accept and even sort of like my hair as it was. That said, a change in your appearance really can be a powerful and healthy thing. Be it minor or more drastic, sometimes editing your appearance can be really empowering, and help you feel a lot closer to yourself.
when I realized that those people I looked to for aesthetic inspiration looked so much freer, so much… lighter. I wanted in on that magic.
The first time I dyed my hair, I went red. And I mean red. It was awesome, if I may say so myself. I felt bolder, and it forced me to be okay with standing out, since it’s pretty hard to blend in with an electric red pixie cut. I even loved my hair as it started to fade into a burnt-orange sorta look. But it was gone after a while, and I was stuck with my natural color again.
I let it be for a while. More out of fear of messing up a home-dye job than anything else. That, and I was focusing on other aspects of my physical appearance. As a non-binary trans person going from the female side of things to a more decidedly male body, I prioritized testosterone therapy and redoing my wardrobe. Getting my hair done wasn’t as important at that time. However, as I started to “pass” more (that is, be gendered as male by strangers), I found myself worrying about the way in which people perceived me as a male. I was afraid of overcompensating, especially since I am not a particularly masculine person. I needed something to make me feel stronger in my identity as a queer person. So, I started paying attention to the people in the queer community that I found aesthetically inspiring, and noticed that a lot of them seemed to have blonde hair. I’d wanted to try being blonde for a while, but had been torn between that and wanting to try going darker. I was sold on the blonde when I realized that those people I looked to for aesthetic inspiration looked so much freer, so much… lighter. I wanted in on that magic.
After finally getting up the courage to bleach my hair at home (because who can afford salon prices? not me), I emerged from the bathroom with hair blonder than it’d ever been. And a grin. Some may think it a superficial thing to be so affected by changes in physical appearance, but, as a trans person I speculate that I might know better than most people just how important aspects of one’s physical appearance can be in helping us feel connected with ourselves.
Going blonde made me feel closer to myself
And hair color isn’t just about aesthetics. Not to me, anyway. Altering your physical appearance can be a powerful representation of how you feel, bringing out a part of you that you might not know how to show otherwise. My blonde hair makes me feel stronger in my identity as a queer non-binary trans male, and helps me embrace my femininity without sacrificing my masculinity. (No, blonde hair isn’t feminine or masculine in and of itself, but something about my having blonde hair made me feel ready to embrace all aspects of my identity, whereas my natural hair color always felt… lacking in something.)
Going blonde made me feel closer to myself, especially as a queer non-binary male, and I’m so glad I did it. I’m about due to re-blondeify my locks pretty soon, but in a few months? Who knows? Maybe I’ll go green. Or pink. I’m always open to a change of mind, of circumstance, of hair.
Are you looking for a change? I say, try a new hair color! Don’t be afraid to switch things up—you can always dye it back if you don’t like it (or wait for it to grow out, or just shave your head–now there’s a change for you!). Bottom line? Have fun with your appearance, and your environment. The colors, textures, designs, and so on that you put on and surround yourself with. You may just bring out a part of yourself you didn’t know was hiding!