Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Suffering for Beauty (Or, Am I Blonde Enough?)

Throughout history women have suffered for beauty. Chinese women practiced foot binding hoping for better marriage prospects through tiny feet. Neck stretching, lip plates, and waist-cinching are all methods used (or previously used) to achieve beauty. In American culture women pluck, wax, dye, paint, tan and surgically enhance their bodies to live up to the pop-culture view of what's beautiful. Often the results of these procedures are anything but beautiful (a common example from middle-school girls is the botched dye job, or in 20-somethings, botched breast implants). I've participated in my share of beautifying, although I like to think less so than typical American women. However, I decided recently to attack my hair with hopes of being a blonde again.

I was born blonde. Well, more of a reddish-blonde; it was definitely not brown. Growing up in Florida and playing outside kept me blonde as a kid. Hours spent at the beach or on the tennis court resulted in a pale, strawberry blonde that I really liked. Even now, when I am in the sun my hair lightens quite a bit. This has allowed me to avoid having to pay for professional highlights or color over the years (and not exactly in a teacher's budget!).

A few times I did pay for highlights. These were mostly in college when I thought student loans were supposed to be spent on things like that. (Oh the lessons we learn the hard way...) When I moved to Atlanta and decided to chop off my hair and donate it to Locks of Love, I got highlights for free. Once the sun-bleached hair was pony-tailed and cut, all that was left was what my Mom would call "mousy brown" looking hair. The hairstylist suggested highlights and instead of comping the haircut, offered to comp the color. Yes! After that I again maintained my hair by spending time on the lake or on the tennis court. Ah, the benefits of free sunshine (and sometimes a little lemon juice)!

 This past July - one of my favorite months for free sunshine - I was 28 weeks pregnant and put on bedrest. After a month of laying around in my bedroom my Sweet Pea decided she wanted to come eight weeks early, with health problems. Besides completely altering everything meaningful in my life, this also meant (get ready for a completely superficial complaint) 90 days spent indoors with practically no sun. Dang. There goes my hair.

I wouldn't have really noticed my hair color but for my dear husband who reminded me - what seemed like weekly - about my new brown hair, which he claimed was lovely. With every remark I cringed. How could I possibly have brown hair? Even my child has white-blonde fuzz on her head, I couldn't have birthed such a thing unless I too was blonde! Now there isn't anything wrong with real brown hair. But that's not what we are talking about. Mine had turned into - gasp! - mousy brown. How could this be? I told myself I didn't care and that this was the least of my worries. But upon returning home from the hospital and realizing that I no longer had a job to go to where I must look decent, I decided to take a chance and color my hair. If it looked bad at least no one but the husband and the babe's doctors would see it.

But why do I care so much about being blonde? First of all, I want to keep the color I grew up with. I always liked being blonde, whether it was because I had heard several thousand times that "blondes have more fun" or more likely,  because my natural color has been complemented by numerous hairdressers. Once, I was even selected to be a model for Aveda in a hair show in Orlando because of the color of my hair. All I had to do was walk around wearing a deep-conditioner treatment for 3-days and I scored a nice check and tons of free product. Also, I associate my hair getting darker with aging - and seriously - who wants to get old?
8th Grade: Notice how the blonde hair just stands out in the crowd? ;)
After reading up on how to select the right color from a do-it-yourself hair coloring kit, I went to the drug store. I debated briefly the pros and cons of using the "dark golden blonde" (was my hair so brown that dark blonde would be enough to lighten it?), "medium golden blonde" (perhaps this was the right shade?), or "light golden blonde." Light golden blonde seemed like it would do the trick. Just enough blonde without being super noticeable. I waited for the husband to go to work the next day before attempting my experiment, mostly because I wondered if he would even notice the new color. After getting the babe to sleep, I began by reading the instructions of the kit, but was rudely interrupted by the phone ringing. I ran to answer it and was surprised to hear that it was the dermatologist I had seen just the week before. The backstory:

Last week Sweet Pea had a couple of follow-up appointments so I figured that while we were at the hospital I might as well get some really ugly stuff (seborrheic keratosis) that had grown during pregnancy frozen off my skin. Although I've had lots of suspicious moles removed in the past, I had been cleared a couple years back to stop my twice-yearly mole-check appointments and just to show up when I thought something looked weird. I was not at this appointment because of a weird mole; I was there to improve how my skin looked. During the visit the doc found a scary looking mole on my back and sliced it off, and I thought Great! So glad to get that removed while I'm here. Moving on...

The dermatologist told me that unfortunately the mole they removed was no good. In fact, it showed signs of severe atypia - meaning that it's the kind of precancerous mole most likely to turn into melanoma if not removed. She told me to schedule surgery and they would make sure to get rid of the rest of it, thus preventing any type of cancer. Wonderful news. And completely ironic too.  Here I am about to color my hair so that it again looks "sun bleached"  while receiving news that all that time spent in the sun has caused potentially life-threatening damage. Now I'll spend the rest of my life indoors or covered up, not to mention that I'll have to keep coloring my hair until eternity!

And the results of that light golden blonde hair dye? Well, what do you think?

Before (left) and after (right). Absolutely no difference!
*And the husband didn't notice either!

1 comment:

  1. LOL, funny about the hair dye...not funny about the mole! I see nothing wrong with a little hair dye, airbrush tanning, and any other procedures that make us hard working mamas feel beautiful! (assuming the dye works, ha ha)


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