Did Life Change My Hair Or Did My Hair Change My Life?
But first, a history of the hairstyles I've been through. Or at least, the ones I remember. By the way, my original hair color is really a deep jet black.
SHORTER, AND SHORTER
The shortest I've had my hair cut as an adult (a.k.a may malay na, as they say) was during my teenage years when I moved to a new high school. The nun-run school had rules, or rather, rules that were actually followed, rules that would merit an actual punishment if caught broken.
Aside from that, there was a new culture to get used to. Back then, I didn't know about hairstyles changing lives and such yet, but I did go to the neighborhood salon quite a few times until my hair was cut short, almost like a boy's.
There was this guy from a band I liked called The All-American Rejects. His name is Nick Wheeler, the lead guitarist—you can Google him for reference and a few laughs. So my hair then was very similar to his. A friend was kind to point that out and funnily enough, I was flattered.
It's weird how in your teens you don't really know if you're crushing on someone or you ~idolize~ someone, or you're feeling both at the same time and you don't know how to distinguish one feel from the other. I guess that's probably what happened then.
Verdict: Life made me confused enough, so I sought distraction to distract myself with my hair.
In college, we were finally allowed to have Irene Kim-hair—the Jesuits won't even care! I thought it was a dream come true, as I've wanted to change my hair color so badly as a pre-teen, so much that I even tried the hair color mascaras that give you temporary highlights.
I soon realized, though, that it wasn't a matter of whether it was allowed in school or not. It was more an issue of budget or a hair dye resource constraint. Thankfully, the DIY boxes were prevalent at that time, and within student's allowance's reach.
If I remember correctly, the first time I dyed my hair, it was a reddish brown. And it only appears ~dyed~ when I'm outdoors or when light shines on it. So you can only imagine how much I wanted to hang out at the Zen garden or walk around the red brick road as much as possible in school.
I couldn't afford to bleach my hair, it was too huge a commitment, plus I definitely didn't have the means to maintain it. At the same time, I sort of outgrew my punk rock phase—or maybe it still lives within the deep recesses of my persona, but I've found different ways to manage it in better, and in more proper ways. This also meant that I've decided to forgo my childhood wish of kaleidoscope-colored hair. That time, Irene Kim's hair wasn't a thing yet, too.
Verdict: At a time when I wasn't yet fully-formed as a person, perhaps I also wasn't fully committed to anything yet, which I believe is the reason why I didn't go for anything drastic. So in this case, I may as well say that it was life that influenced my hair choices.
THE BLONDE LIFESTYLE
Soon I entered the workforce and as you may have guessed, it was another period of adjustment. You may have also guessed that I'd already have the budget for a drastic color change this time, and in fact, you're right.
On schedule, I would dye my hair again and again until it turned a visible blonde—and all without ever having to bleach it. Hooray! Take it from me, the blonde lifestyle is difficult to maintain (am I the only one who feels genuinely sad when my roots start showing?) but it's all worth it. They say blondes have all the fun, and at that point in my life, I definitely agreed.
As I committed to the blonde lifestyle, I committed to the K-pop fandom, too. And you can only imagine how many K-pop idols there are to choose from, each serving as an image and likeness of the blonde lifestyle, each further validating my hair choices.
Verdict: No question, my hair definitely dictated my life.
Maybe it's because of that high school phase when I got too obsessed with cutting my hair short to the point of regret that I've always worn my hair superlong until my mom starts freaking out and throwing a fit about it. There was a time when I had ~mermaid hair~ for a long, long time and I thought it looked great.
It did have its advantages. For the perenially bored twentysomething like me, my long locks allowed me to wear a different style as much as I'd please. Once upon a time, I even hid it in a blonde bob-cut wig with full bangs to become Anna Wintour at a party. The opportunities were endless.
But I guess like in all good things, it came to an end. I got sick of it and realized I was spending too much on shampoo and conditioner—and hair dye! I finally had it cut all the way to my collarbone, into a lob, and suddenly, the world and its problems felt lighter.
Verdict: The hair cut definitely did it.
THE WHOLE SHE-BANG
One day, I just went through life sick of seeing bare foreheads on everyone, so I decided to get bangs: the thin, wispy ones that Koreans call see-through bangs. When I told my mom, she definitely gave me that look that said are-you-sure-won't-it-just-give-you-bungang-araw-I-mean-it's-summer.
But surprise, surprise, she loved the end result and to this day I still have them.
Verdict: It's a tie.
THE BLUNT TRUTH
I forgot the reason, but there was a time late last year when I realized I wanted a blunt-cut bob. Stopping to reflect on that point in my life, I think the probable reasons could be 1) my hair was only one of the few things in my life I could still have control over (deep, I know); 2) life situations were uncertain back then and a haircut was the one thing I was sure of; 3) or maybe, it was because Suzy cut her hair in While You Were Sleeping and that was the current K-drama I was watching
Verdict: If K-drama equals life, then life wins.
BACK TO BLACK
I always imagined myself changing my hair color back to black when I reach my thirties, or even push the blonde lifestyle as far as my forties. But there really comes a time when nature whispers a truth in your ear and you can't deny it.
It was time to show my true colors and revert back to my original roots, it said. I listened and had my hair dyed back despite the stylist warning me again and again that it'll take years to go back to blonde again. Frankly, I didn't care. She certainly kept trying to scare me and convince otherwise, until I told her to please. just. stop.
Also for additional reference, that time in my life when I reverted back to black was also a trying time when I couldn't have been bothered with retouching my roots and all. Being blonde had also become too festive a hair color for everything else that was going on. My original color was perfect to express how I was feeling, it's low maintenance, and I was honestly craving a look that felt more myself. It was, well, literally going back to my roots.
Verdict: Life wins again.