Life: A Year of Cheerful Hair

During the pandemic, I decided to change a few things about how I was living, and one of them was my hair color. I had previously spent late 2019 and early 2020 trying to go a respectable shade of gunmetal gray, a color that looks very modern in architectural settings, and which would match nearly all of my black and gray clothes. But, for whatever reason, the gray never really stuck. The dyes were permanent and were being professionally applied by a real colorist, yet it always faded back to an ambiguous, ashy near-blonde that didn’t quite have its own name.

In March 2020, the pandemic ended professional salon hair color visits, and I was left to my own, not-fully-respectable devices. I noodled around a bit with gray, purple, and rose tints, some of which lasted a day, some of which stuck but didn’t stay true. I watched my roots grow out (and out, and out). I had to see my roots often, because I spent five hours daily on video calls for work, and I did not like what I saw. So, I decided to change direction. In August of 2020, I went pink, a color I had never seriously considered in the past. Pink hair. On ME, a middle-aged woman who showed visible signs of being cooped up indoors for too long. It seemed… unlikely to succeed.

September 2020 reflection in pink, with matching shirt and giant, noise-reducing headphones

And yet.

Pink hair inspired people to respond differently to me on video calls. They smiled more. They were more outgoing to me than they had been previously. When my employer was acquired, I met many people at the new parent company by video meeting, and it was fun to watch their faces change when my camera turned on. Yes, I was still a legal department representative, yes, we were going to discuss serious business, but their faces visibly brightened. The mood softened. They were professional, always, but also warmer than people usually are with legal department folks.

During the long, dark dread of the 2020 pandemic, that felt REALLY NICE.

2021 arrived, and as my hometown’s vaccination campaign succeeded and infection levels dropped, I left the house and learned that this cheerfulness toward me also happens in real life. Women say nice things to me every day I go out now. We don’t even need to be talking: I was smiling at a woman walking past with her dog, and she just said, “Yaaay, pink hair!” unexpectedly. I am awash in cheer and compliments, and it surprises me every time. It’s like I’m carrying a kitten on my head, or am dressed as a huggable mascot.

I’d already picked out my next color, but it won’t be as…soft, so perhaps I will stick with my friendly pastel pink (PINK! A color I didn’t own any clothes in until recently, and would not have been caught dead in during my youth!) for a while longer, so it can continue to soften my way as I readjust to the world.

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