I Died It

The title of this post is taken from a comic I drew as a kid about a girl who dyes her hair pink. My older brothers found this comic hysterically funny, not, of course, because of my wit or great drawing, but rather my bad spelling. Haha.

The story of me changing my hair color begins 16 or 17 years later when Christopher asked me to marry him and gave me the most beautiful engagement ring I had ever seen -- three princess cut diamonds in white gold bordered by four accent diamonds on each side.

The week after I started proudly wearing my new sparkler I couldn't help thinking I was too ugly for it. To me, there was an incongruity between my homeliness and the beautiful ring.

To fix this incongruity I went to the Regis hair salon at the mall and had my hair colored an icy platinum blonde. It took over two hours and ruined my favorite shirt but it turned out pretty cool, I thought. I kept the blonde hair for the six months of our engagement. I loved it.

Once the wedding was over Christopher and I agreed that $100 trips to the hair salon every month could not be included in our meager budget. Besides, by then parts of my hair were crisp and damaged from all the bleaching and couldn't take any more. After we'd been married about 6 weeks I had it colored back to something close to my old color.

But I still felt unhappy with the orange hue so the next year I started coloring it dark at home. This was much cheaper than going to the salon, just $8 or $9 for a box kit dye. I did that for years. I felt pleased to not be a redhead. I hated those fluorescent orange roots that would grow in. I thought I would never in a million years go back to that ugly red hair.

So what happened?

I stopped coloring my hair a year and a half ago and since then I've asked myself how does that happen? How does a person go from hating their hair color to being okay with it?

I think part of the answer goes back to 2020. In the weeks before everything shut down from you-know-what, Christopher and I were able to take a trip to Washington DC for his work. One day he was busy working and I found myself alone for the afternoon, so I took the metro to the National Portrait Gallery and spent a couple of hours walking around looking at portraits of famous Americans.

As I gazed at all the faces it quickly became obvious that almost none of these people looked like Hollywood stars. Quite the opposite. Yet many of them were remembered for virtuous or courageous deeds.

This made a deep impression on me, because in the months after that I stopped wearing bangs. I had worn bangs since I was a teenager, thinking that my face was too ugly and I needed to disguise it with hair. But after that day I internalized a great truth: It's okay to just have a regular face. Not everyone looks like Angelina Jolie. And that's okay. It's having good character that really counts. This is actually exactly what the Bible teaches but it took the trip to the National Portrait Gallery to drive the lesson home for me.

So that was part 1. Part 2 was that two years later I found myself the mother of not one, not two, but THREE blonde haired and blue eyed children. Not a lot of melanin there. My dark hair seemed very unlikely. And then one day I woke up and it just seemed so fake. So I decided that I wanted to be myself. Even if that was ugly.

Part 3 was a sort of Amy Carmichael experience where I anxiously examined the roots in the mirror each day and prayed for a miracle. Please, Lord, don't let it grow in red! Let it grow in a nice color. Like brown. Or blonde. Or anything but orange! Like Amy Carmichael, I was disappointed that my appearance didn't change. My hair grew in the same old color it had been all my life.

Part 4 was giving up. I had to say "God, you know what you are doing and I trust myself to you. I hate this hair color, but you must like it." Thinking "I feel like these words are crazy because I can't imagine how ANYONE would like it."

Part 5 was finally one day I didn't mind the red anymore. I remembered the lesson from the National Portrait Gallery. It's okay to not be a movie star. Plus, I guess I don't think as much about the color anymore. I realized that, you know what's great? Having hair! Having clean hair! Waking up and drinking coffee in the morning! Enjoying these four amazing kids I have! Watching the birds at the feeder! Making a good dinner! Hair color doesn't seem as important as it used to.

So that was how it happened that I started and stopped "die"ing it... I guess. I've come up with a list of things that happened but even now it's somewhat mysterious how exactly I got from there to here. How do people change and develop, exactly? I still wonder.

I am in the middle of teaching my 5 year old to read. For a couple of months I was very frustrated that we didn't seem to be getting anywhere. He couldn't sound out words. If I asked "What sound does DOG start with?" he couldn't tell me, no matter how many times we went over "D says duh". He didn't understand rhymes and he couldn't blend words if I said them slowly with a pause between each syllable.

Our contact teacher at the homeschool program reminded me, "Slow and steady wins the race." So we kept plodding through the lessons. Then suddenly, one day he could name the sounds at the beginning of words. I heard him saying things to himself like "Buh-buh-book!" or "Cuh-cuh-cup!" I still am not sure how that happened. It's a wonderful mystery. Now he is making rapid progress.

During my pregnancy I enjoyed crying and listening to "I Get To Be the One" by JJ Heller, but even while weeping sentimental tears I was aware that the line, "Can't wait to show you, little baby, how to crawl, how to walk, and how to run" was not quite accurate. I don't actually show Eric how to crawl. How would I do that? I'm pretty sure I couldn't even teach it in print. "So, first, you have to push yourself up so you're on your hands and knees... we'll work on that for a few days. Then you have to lift one hand and put it in front of you while simultaneously lifting the opposite knee and moving that forward." (Is that even correct? I'm not sure.) Yet somehow, mysteriously without instruction, babies learn how to crawl. It's marvelous to watch... which was the point of JJ Heller's song, really.

Proxied content from gemini://gem.librehacker.com/gemlog/emily/20240125.gmi

Gemini request details:

Original URL
Status code
Proxied by

Be advised that no attempt was made to verify the remote SSL certificate.