Tonight, after the kids have gone to bed, I intend to dye my hair blond. Not blonde.
I have been blonde many times. In fact, I have been blonde more than half my life and half of that was with the power of chemicals. But this is different.
In the past, dying my hair blonde has been about trying to look more stereotypically feminine, to blend into “normal society” by looking like a girl.
The last time was particularly striking. Not only did I play with blonde hair, but I also wore the maxi dresses and sandals with high wedge heels that were all the rage that summer. I have never felt so much like a drag queen. It was an obvious failure in terms of embracing a feminine nature I just don’t have.
Since then, I have actively embraced my identity as agender and have chosen to cultivate genderqueer self-presentation so that my image and my self-perception align.
In the process of finding a style that works for me, I have returned to a habit I have cultivated off and on for the past three decades, putting blue and pink sections in my hair.
I like playing with my hair colour, but I am uncomfortable with the extent to which changing the colour of my hair has been an active “fuck you” to the culture around me instead of a positive embrace of playfulness.
In this period of experimentation, I have relearned that I do like a more dramatic look than my natural brown provides and have reminded myself that I cannot go very dark without washing my features out so much that I look sick without dark make-up. I have established that blue and purple make me happy and that pink and green do not.
I have also noted that I have actively avoided playing with the blondes and reds that were my staples for many years and I have become curious about why.
I started colouring my hair when I was a pre-teen. My childhood white-blonde hair had already darkened to a golden blonde and when it started becoming a dishwater blonde without summer sun bleaching, I started helping it out. This was very consciously an effort to be pretty; I equated blonde with pretty so completely that I didn’t even question it. All I knew was that no boys ever looked at me and I desperately wanted to feel attractive.
That desire to look attractive to the heterosexual male gaze has always been the motivating factor behind dying my hair blonde.
As a side note, I have always been highly conscious of using the feminine form of blond when referring to females, including myself, in the past. I think it’s time to drop that spelling forever.
Red, on the other hand, has always been a manifestation of the desire to be associated with stereotypically wild and dangerous redheads. But that, too, has been an act.
I want to let go of the chip on my shoulder about gender and gender presentation. I want to simply accept who I am and find a style that feels right for me. And part of that means being open to all the possibilities for my hair. I want yellow and red to be merely hair colours, not symbols of how I respond to not fitting into the gender binary.
I am hugely uncomfortable with taking my hair into the yellow range. Despite the obvious illogic, I am deeply afraid that having yellow hair will result in my disappearing under a camouflage of enforced femininity. But, I want to confront this fear. I want to explore how it is possible for me to be both blond(e) and genderqueer.
The first step is acknowledging that I never want to be blonde again. And so, tonight, I will go blond for the first time.