Ok yes fine, I got a haircut: on ditching your signature style

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MAJOR EL SCANDALO
MAJOR EL SCANDALO
After I off-handedly changed my Gravatar over the weekend, several Offbeat Empire commenters asked if and why I cut off the pink-tips off my hair recently. As one commenter said, “HAVE YOU CUT THE PINK OFF YOUR HAIR!!!?!?!?!?!?????? What!? When!? Why!?”

These days, I mostly keep my personal life private, but heck: I guess it’s sort of a big deal to cut off the pink tips that have defined my head for the last seven years, so fine… I’ll talk about it.

I went pink in 2006, when I was working hard to establish a personal brand around being an author and media commentator. It felt important to prioritize being easily recognizable. Seven years later, my authority in my industry is well-established. The Offbeat Empire business brand is completely separate from me as a person — to the point where I’m genuinely baffled that any offbeat readers noticed. Not only is there no need for me to be any sort of recognizable personal brand, but I actually get a little uncomfortable when I get spotted out ‘n’ about. Priorities have shifted, and that’s cool.

Last year my geighbor (who works in the fashion industry) gave me a pivotal piece of advice when he told me, “With a personality as loud as yours, loud hair is redundant.” I definitely feel less urgency to prove myself in terms of how I look. I mean, personal style is still a form of expression that I really enjoy (and will likely always be a priority for me), but I’m happy to take a little break from having hair that strangers on the street want to talk to me about. I can let my loud-mouth and my career do the talking for me — the pink hair cherry on top may indeed be redundant. I cut it off in part to test if that feels true.

(Also, have you ever noticed how many wedding bloggers have pink hair? If the pink was once a personal brand differentiator, it isn’t any more.)

We ran a post a while back about the concept of age-appropriate style, and I don’t think I’d ever say that the pink hair is age inappropriate. Hells, the bright rainbow color dyes stick the best to grey hair — have you fucking seen Helen Mirren recently?! For me, getting rid of the pink is less about aging and more about my priorities shifting. For some people, age can have an impact on priorities… but I think if I were in the process of establishing a personal brand today, I would probably go for something equally as bold as the pink hair.

All that said, I did have a sad moment when my family and I crossed paths with this adorable hippie/punk couple on the sidewalk a couple weeks ago, and I wanted to be like YEAH FIST BUMP YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME, and I had this moment of stepping outside myself and thinking, “we’re just the boring brown-haired middle class white couple in our late-30s pushing a toddler in a stroller.” ACK! Easily-recognizable subcultural identifier, I miss you!

hair historyMy hair was pink-tipped for the longest it’s been anything ever — over the years it’s been short, long, brown, blond, dreaded, extension-ed, rainbow colored, red, blue, purple, etc. x 500 bajillion. When I cut off the dreads that I had from ’99 – ’01, I would go out to parties and have people not recognize me. It was half disappointing (no one saw ME, they only saw the hair!), and half exhilarating (clean slate, bitches!). As I did back in 2001, I may grow my hair right back out (and may end up with pink tips again, for all I know), but stagnation freaks me out, so it was definitely time for a shift.

Let’s hear from other Homies who’ve ditched their signature styles — did it mess with your sense of self? Did you regret it? Was it exhilarating?

Comments on Ok yes fine, I got a haircut: on ditching your signature style

  1. Its kind of strange, my signature style is that my hair is messy. Its been long, short, and everything in between but because of how curly it is its always messy. I did give up rainbow colored hair a few years back for a good job, now that I’m on my way back to school (hooray!) I realize how much I’ve actually missed it and cant wait for some freaking purple.

    I adore your hair cut by the way 🙂

  2. Man, hair colour always feels like such a strange change. I have a lot of respect for people who can dye their hair a new colour every month. For me, it was years before I was willing to dye my (naturally dark, dark brown) to a red, and actually use the permanent colour it took to make an obvious change. And then over Christmas, I let the hair dresser talk me into getting blonde streaks… And the change still freaks me out. My hair is not supposed to have blonde, damn it, it’s supposed to be dark!

    I’ve since been talked into the idea that the change makes my curls stand out better, but it’s weird to me still.

    • I have naturally dark brown hair that is often red. When I was about 25, I decided to dye it a medium blonde. It looked really cute, but I didn’t recognize myself when I looked in a mirror. After a month and a half of not knowing who the hell that girl in the mirror was, I dyed it back. (I still think it would be cool to color it a really pale blonde, but I doubt I’ll do it. Too much trouble to grow out.)

    • Sorry, I know this post is a few months old but I had to comment. Also, I can’t sleep.

      My natural hair color is a very dark brown, almost black. Since about middle school (I’m 26) it’s been all lengths, and plenty of different colors. Mostly various shades/tints of brown or auburn, with or without coloured streaks, but I’ve had blonde highlights and at one point brown hair on top with blonde underneath. Last time I got my hair cut, the shortest it’s ever been, I bleached my hair a very lovely mid/light blonde.

      It was weird to everyone. I was told it didn’t suit me by a friend*. Even though he knew it was going to happen, I did it late at night while my boyfriend was asleep and he panicked a bit in the morning when he woke up with a blonde next to him. The dog didn’t recognize me at first.

      This was 2+ years ago. I love the way it looks, I feel prettier and like it fits me better. I don’t look as pale and/or sickly as the super dark hair made me look. I still picture myself in my head with longer, darker hair. I draw myself with longer, darker hair. A friend made a bitstrip of us and I didn’t recognize that the blonde with the ‘boxie’ cut was supposed to be me.

      I think the whole point of this was supposed to be that I totally get the “My hair isn’t supposed to have blonde, damn it” bit.

      *I can’t really blame them, I guess. It took a couple of bleaches to get away from the “MY HAIR IS DARK AND WAS BLEACHED” yellow coloring.

      • Heh, I’ve actually dyed my hair back since that comment (I too am still awake and following really old comment threads!). The blonde was just too bizarre, and while it eventually kinda blended better, I never really liked it much.

        I ended up dying it all over a deep ruby red. For my wedding, even, but dark brown/red is just what my hair should be. My friend even made me us a cross-stitch for our wedding, and did my hair brown with red streaks. At the least, the blonde has given me some nice looking highlights now.

  3. I have had various haircuts over the years, but it has been long more than it has been short. When I got married last June, my hair was down to my waist. Then, two weeks after the wedding, I shaved it off! Nobody recognized me at my high school reunion the following week, for sure. Since then, it has been slowly growing back in, and I am undecided about whether to shave it again or not. I did love the freedom.

  4. I had waist-length curly hair that would often get fondled by little old ladies because it was just so different. After a while I finally hacked it down to chin-length. OMG I tell you I will never go back I love it so much, ha ha 🙂 Not only is it way, way easier to deal with on a daily basis, but I love the way it bounces now. Changing up your look can be a great thing; even when it gets rid of one signature look, it creates another.

    Your new hair is super cute by the way!

  5. “we’re just the boring brown-haired middle class white couple in our late-30s pushing a toddler in a stroller.” I know that feeling all too well Ariel.

    All through my teens I was a hair model for hairdressers and I have had all kinds of crazy hair, plus I am little bit older than you so my crazy hair days are from the 80’s.

    In my twenties I slowly started reigning it in a bit and at some point in my thirties I decided to go back to my childhood hair colour of strawberry blonde.

    Part of me feels so boring and ordinary, I smile when I see teenagers or twenty somethings with great punk hair. They probably think I am smirking at them but really I am wistfully smiling, I miss those days of spending huge amounts of time inventing new hairstyles or deciding what colour to dye my hair next. I did add violet purple streaks to my hair for my wedding and that was fun but it doesn’t feel quite the same as when I was younger.

    Now all my artistic endeavours actually go into my artwork and attention and admiration from people come because of art instead of the hair, which is really fantastic to have people appreciate the things are create, but part of me still thinks about having fun colours and hairstyles again one day.

    • Now all my artistic endeavours actually go into my artwork and attention and admiration from people come because of art instead of the hair

      I think that nails it there. It IS nice to have creative outlets other than my hair…

  6. I’ve been dying my hair the same shade since high school: [brand redacted] medium golden blonde. Occasionally I’ve tried out other brands that are supposed to be less, y’know, poisonous, but I always end up back with the old faithful. My blonde hair suits my coloring and is definitely part of my personal identity, so I’m already feeling anxious about what’s going to happen a year from now, when we start trying to have kids and I have to go back to my dull, mousy dark blonde hair, at least for a little while.

  7. I’m at the opposite stage. I’ve spent years dying my hair auburn, that it was a bit out of my box to dye the ends purple. I’ve had so much fun with it though that I might keep it for a while.

  8. I used to have dark brown, curly hair. For the first twenty-one years of my life, that was all it was. Long, curly, dark-brown. Most people recognized me by my hair and they loved it!
    But frankly, I didn’t. Sure, it’s nice and all, but I found it too dark (especially in combination with my brown skin), and my curls are lost in the darkness and shadows. Though this hair has been mine all my life and it grows that way naturally, it just wasn’t “me”.

    So, I bleached it and dyed all of it a bright turquoise blue, my favorite color. I loved it! Finally, hair that looks amazing against my skin tone! The color turned out to be multi-hued, varying between bright blue, turquoise, and green. While an unintentional effect, I liked it even more! It makes my curls really stand out, resembling rippling Caribbean waters. I felt refreshed, and most importantly, I felt like “me”.

    But most people were horrified and angry that I had “ruined” my already beautiful hair. Some people accused me of doing it for attention, others threatened to sneak up behind me and cut it all off! People would interrogate me about it, giving me mini-psychiatric sessions, trying to find out what “horrible trauma” I had experienced that would drive me to make such a drastic change. Others would go on a religious tirade, telling me that I should have left my hair the way God intended, that God never meant my hair to be blue, and I was therefore “sinning” by rejecting His gift of naturally dark brown curls.
    Too bad I’m agnostic!

    Week after week, people would ask me when I was going to “change it back”, as if I was suddenly going to get tired of my awesome new color.

    But I didn’t regret it then, and I still don’t regret it now. I dyed my hair back in December of 2011. Today it is still a lovely shade of turquoise, and I thoroughly intend to keep it that way. My hair has grown a lot since then though, so the top portion is back to being dark brown. I’ll have to fix that. 😛
    Most people don’t bother me about it any more, but I still get a couple of people asking when I’ll cut off the blue part or dye it back to brown. I tell them “NEVER!” with a wide grin, and watch as they sulk away disappointed.

    • While I will never dye my hair permanently (I actually really like my natural color) I dyed my hair a (natural) red with semi-permanent dye and had people go up in arms about it. It wasn’t that it wasn’t flattering (people I met after I dyed my hair thought I was a natural redhed and were flabbergasted when I told them I was actually blonde) but that everyone knew me by my mid-back blonde hair.

      Ask anyone to give a description of me and it will be “she’s tall, long blonde hair” (which is sadly enough to distinguish me from everyone in my grad program) so some people were definitely weirded out.

      I’m still considering dying it again…

      • Man, I could have written this exact post! I’ve always been known as the tall blonde (6’4″, as if blonde weren’t identifiable enough) but when I’ve gone strawberry and red (supposed to be auburn but cheap dye made it turn little mermaid red… Which was kind of rad), people thought it was natural bc of my pale skin. Less so with the little mermaid hair, but it did happen. Of course, after I dye my hair, it fades to pink and then I have to dye it back to blonde because even temp color won’t leave my natural color alone.

        I want to do purple streaks next. Anyone know a way to not ruin my blonde color forever? Wondering if I should just go with fake clip extensions…

    • People can be so weird about other people’s hair. My hair grows very fast naturally and is very thick. It only takes me a couple of years to have very long hair, but it’s heavy so I tend to chop it off every couple of years. A lot of my girl friends freak and ask me why I would cut off all my hair and I’ve had men tell me that they prefer women with long hair. Umm… I’m not trying to impress any of you, I really don’t care if you approve of my hair cut. Some people are so afraid of change it freaks them out if someone around them is not. By the way, turquoise is my favorite color and your hair sounds awesome 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, I would love to see pictures of your hair because it sound SOOOOOOO beautiful!

      I’ve done a few minor dye jobs over the years–usually just to darken it a little and give it a little reddish-ness. Doing henna at current. That’s about as bold as I get, though some people seem surprised by my absolute willingness to go from growing my hair fairly long to chopping it all off (I go in a cycle, probably about 2 years in length). I keep it super-short for a while, then grow it back out (as I’m doing now), then after a while, I get bored with it past shoulder-length and chop it back off again.

      • Here is a pic of my hair from my instagram…

        http://instagram.com/p/J8cljnjnvV/

        The colors are a bit weird… but that’s instagram for ya. I don’t have any other online accounts where I upload pictures, so yeah. 🙂 The hair color fades out to shades of seafoam green over time. I dye it back to bright turquoise once the ends start turning blonde.

    • Firstly: Kudos to you for keeping up with the turquoise hair! It’s one of my favorite colors, too, and I love how you managed to end up with a multi-hued dye. But I love my natural color (a few shades lighter than dirty blonde) too much to do my whole head like that. I’ve been considering streaks, though, so that’d be cool.

      Secondly: As a Christian, I have to say THANK YOU for taking the time (and dare I say consideration?) for capitalizing the Godly pronouns even when you’re agnostic. There’s so many *Christian* writers who simply don’t bother to do it. There’s so many editors and publishers of freaking *Bibles* who don’t bother! It really grabs my attention when a writer does bother, and I usually go around smiling and feeling happy that said writer capitalized for an hour or two.

      Why, yes, I’m a bit of a grammar snob. How could you tell? 😉

  9. In high school I had cherry red streaks in my hair. But I had a falling out with my stylist at the time (ie, she freaked out on me in the salon full of customers) and just gave up on the colour and dyed it to my normal colour. That wasn’t a huge deal, but I also used to have a long ponytail since I was 7 and chopped off 15 inches in September and now sport an intense angled bob that’s nearly shaved on my nape. Now that took some getting used to in the mirror! I’d love to sport some bright chunks of colour again but with my professional job where I meet with clients prevents that.

  10. I’m definitely cringing at the “pink haired wedding blogger” stereotype. But I waited almost 30 years until I felt confident enough to finally go pink. Since then, I went from pink, to brown, to red, to pink and white, and then back to all pink.

    But I have a hard time keeping a signature look, since I get bored easily. So I guess I’m just going to enjoy the fuck out the pink hair until my next “I’m bored!!!!” time comes.

    I’m totally going to be bummed out when people stop recognizing me after I don’t have pink hair anymore. 🙁

    • At least people aren’t confusing you with Cat Rocketship any more. 🙂

    • To be perfectly honest, I’d be more likely to recognize you by the hat you’re wearing in your gravatar than by your hair. :p

      • That’s funny! I recently thought about how I like my bunny hat gravatar for that reason: I can change my hair a million times an no one will know!

    • I still think pink hair is lovely and overall not that common. Good for you for being confident and sticking with what you like, stereotypes be damned! We’ll still recognize you when you get bored and decide to go on to the next thing. 🙂

      I used to have pink streaks in my hair and then blue ones. I remember dreaming about coloring my hair and dressing how I wanted freshman year in high school, but it took me until my senior year before I finally built up the confidence, so I feel ya. Being shy, it was scary to do things that I knew people associated with attention-seeking behavior. After I graduated, I stopped because of work. I still miss it and my size 4 gauges. (Being able to see through my earlobes made me happy in a way I can’t explain.)
      I don’t feel like I have had any type of signature style since then, although I’ve been thinking lately about how to remedy that.
      One thing I did to identify myself is change my name. I started going by Raven when I moved to Texas 9 years ago. Since I still love the name and go by it somewhat regularly, I’ve been thinking about changing it legally. But I haven’t been able to come to a decision. Ironically my teenage fear of being called a poser for coloring my hair unnatural colors or dressing gothic never came true, but I did have a boyfriend (now ex) who called me a poser and regularly made fun of me for choosing a different name as an adult. Fortunately my husband and closest friends are a lot more accepting.

  11. I first colored my hair pink 6 years ago after some major emotional upheaval. I was is a “life’s too short, just go for it mood” and so I did. It was amazing to me how something as trivial as hair-color could have such a major effect on my life, but it did. I instantly felt more like myself and my confidence soared. I never thought about it as a way to garner attention, I’m really pretty shy, just a way to be true to myself. It makes it easy when meeting new people (“I’m the girl with the pink hair”) but, also the unwanted attention from sometimes well-meaning and sometimes inappropriate strangers (“Does the carpet match the drapes?” (yeah that happened) “is that natural?” (srsly?)) gets a little old, I must admit.
    6 years later, so much has changed- I gave up NYC for sweet home Alabama, happily traded my artsy career for a 40 hour a week “real job”, my hair styles have changed and matured, but my signature pink streak remains. I have a hard time imagining living without it. Would I feel the same? Would I even recognize myself? Am I just hanging on to this one final piece of my old life? Or, am I, just I have always assumed, staying true to me. regardless of other people’s expectations?

    Part of me thinks I’ll keep it til I’m an old lady. (Helen Mirren is my effing hero right now.) But who knows, I suppose only time will tell…

  12. I have worn my hair short for years. I cut it all off in 2010 after growing it down to my waist and missing it being short and easy (but short hair is almost never easy). Last year I trained to run a half marathon, and ended up growing my hair out just long enough to pull into a ponytail, and when we got engaged realized my very very very fine hair needed to be long enough for an updo to support a bright red hairpiece. Short kicky hair is my signature, and while I’ve loved being able to pull it up, wear a bun, and do all sorts of things I cannot do with chin-length hair, I miss my short, signature do.

  13. I’ve never really had a “signature style” for all that long. I had long hair in junior high, but then chopped it off and had short hair for a few years. Then back to growing it out. Then chopping it super short. The closest I’ve had to signature was having a streak at the right front for a while. I’ve done it 2 summers in a row and this past winter I left it there when dying the rest of my hair. But for me it’s all about changing things up hair-wise. I used to change my hair cut every 3 months. These days I tend to find something and stick with it for longer.

    I have glasses but usually wear contacts so I throw people off when I pull out the glasses.

    The rest of my clothes did undergo a pretty significant shift when I got a regular job after being a grad student for a long time. Suddenly I sort of needed work wear. So the jeans were supplemented by dressier pants, the t-shirts were replaced somewhat. Now I will tend to wear a geeky t-shirt and jeans on the weekends or evenings, but at work I’m in dress pants, sweaters, vests, and other more traditional work clothing. I’ve never really had a “style” though so I guess for me the changes have always felt pretty organic.

  14. Daughter of a hairdresser, I have had all manner of styles (and the damage of 80s perms!). In junior year of HS, I cut my hair above my shoulders and it has been in a range of ultra pixie to flippy shoulder-length ever since. What defined me most was the constant shift of color first within the acceptable-by-normal range (platinum thru black), then experimenting with bangs and streaks of blue, purple, pink, red red, and green at different times. I had blue/purple bangs for almost 2 years because it felt most me. Now I am allover washed out red. Every time I change it, I get a thrill of newness– which is probably why I change so often. I get the “my hair doesn’t look right” itches and off goes inches.

    As with everything else, however, I think the root of my “self” is solid and outgoing enough without the signature hair color. Now, the tattoos and motorcycle may have something to do with my lack of married white suburbanite in her 30s, but she’s in there too somewhere.

  15. I spent 3 years branding myself as a Platinum Blonde Pinup / Domestic Goddess for my book and blog. But in November, I quit my Ultra Conserative day job of 6 years and my hubs and I moved across the country.

    I also decided to dye my hair BRIGHT F*%$# OFF RED to celebrate my new found freedom. Then I decided to finally grow my roots out to a natural color/ombre look. I have a nagging suspicion that going nearly (mousy?) brunette may hurt my careful branding… but since I’ve always dyed and cut/shaved my hair differently, the blonde was beginning to feel like a box I put myself in.

    I haven’t really outed myself yet with an avatar change… thanks for the post, it’s encouraging! 🙂 also I think the shorter hair looks really good on you!

  16. I chopped my waist-length, good-Pentacostal-girl hair into a 1/2 inch long pixie during college, and people who had known me for years didn’t recognize me. It had a lot to do with the shifts going on in my personal life (growing up, changes in my faith, fighting with my parents constantly), but it was also the one “crazy” thing I allowed myself to do after a stressful semester and taking the MCAT. I loved having short hair, but it got too expensive to keep up with once I started grad school. Now I’m enjoying being able to braid it again!

  17. Thanks for sharing your thought process! I think your new hair cut looks really good. You rocked the pink tips as well. I thought it was interesting that you were baffled that people noticed! I noticed, but after struggling on what to say (I overthink these things) maintained my usual silent status-quo. So I’m sure plenty many other people noticed too.

    I agree that OBE is well established, but I feel what has made the OBE sites part of the few that I regularly visit and have for around three years now is your personality as well as the thoughtful community you’ve created. While I think there are many interesting articles on OBE and I completely understand the need for you all to have your own private lives, my favorites are usually when you, Megan, or Stephanie decide to share bits and pieces about yourselves. Maybe it is easier to feel connected to an online community when it feels like there are real people on the other side, even if it is one sided? When Stephanie shared that she writes for xoJane, I was excited to go over there and read more lovely articles written by her (and had my love for all things OB further established when reading the comment section on the site – yikes!)

    I remember when I took the Bridechilla course, a big draw was that you were going to be a part of the video chats. It made me feel like a squeely fan girl! I don’t usually get into the celebrity crush thing, but if someone asked me, you’d be it. I’ll stop now before I sound really creepy, if it’s not too late. 😉

    • Yeah, online privacy is a very odd thing and something that definitely has shifted for me many times over the years. I started blogging in 2000, and everything was out there (but then again the blogging world was tiny back then).

      My online world changed dramatically in 2009 when I switched my personal blog to a private, members-only site. I got sick of the harassment from longtime trolls telling me I was ugly, fat, stupid, etc etc. I got sick of feeling scared of beng attacked every time I posted about difficult stuff. It started freaking me out that people who might know me through my then-job at Microsoft would have access to reading about my very personal issues like infertility. I want to respect my family’s privacy, too — not just my husband, but also my son.

      That said, there are times when I think I’ve become too guarded online. The pendulum swings back and forth…

      • I have to agree with Raven. I was drawn to the Empire after reading your book and falling in love with your voice as an author, and your personality. I feel that there is still a lot that around the Empire. It may be separate from you, but you’ve left your imprint all over it.
        I love every post I read, but it’s those bits of your personal life that connect with mine that really engage me. When you mentioned Shambhala being your favorite music festival, I was giddy because it’s mine too (where I met my husband).
        I just recently read that you were a big part of the reason Philo decided to start hooping.org…. The (only) other website I religiously check each day and I felt so happy and satisfied with the connection. I love when my worlds intersect. It creates a wonderful synergy in my mind.

        With respect to the pendulum swinging, I do the same with my life, but eventually things settle into balance 😉

  18. I cut off my hip-length hair this year. It feels great but I get a little pang when I see a picture of my mermaid hair looking especially magical… although those are usually buried in 234 pictures of my mermaid hair tied up in a heavy, messy bun, so it’s hard to get too nostalgic.

    I have never dyed my hair because it has red streaks that I have always loved and been afraid to lose. However, I have been planning to have amazing rainbow-sorbet colored hair as soon as I go grey. It’s a win-win.

    • I did the super long hair thing for a while in college, and I think I only let people take pictures of me when I had it unbraided and wavy. Whenever I’ve tried to grow it out again, I end up pulling it back with a clip or ponytail holder every. single. day. So I finally went for a pixie cut about 2 years ago, and I think I will never grow my hair out again. It freaked out my friends and family at first, but I am so in love with my new style that I can’t really imagine trying to grow it out again!

  19. I don’t really have a signature hairstyle (for the last 8-ish years I’ve chopped it off about every second year, donating 12+ inches every time — and the last time, nearly 3 years ago, I buzzed it to 1/8″ — it’s about time to chop it off again now…), but I wear skirts a LOT (all summer, and most of the time in the winter), so I get a lot of comments from friends if I wear pants.

    When I first started wearing skirts a lot, it was really weird for me — I’d been wearing jeans 98% of the time for a bunch of years at that point, and I usually only wore skirts for dancing (it’s just more fun to twirl in a skirt!), but then I decided that they were really comfortable and a lot of fun to wear other times, so I started wearing skirts to school.

    The summer before I left for university, my best friend and I hit the thrift shop, and I bought a bunch more skirts. I think I wore jeans for Frosh Week, but then I switched to skirts, and wore them pretty much all the time — layered long skirts in winter (I can hide an extra five or six layers under my skirt for added warmth — actually a LOT warmer than wearing pants!), knee-length skirts in summer (with funky knee socks in spring/fall)… So that’s how most of my friends from university know me — I’m the girl who wears skirts all the time.

    These days, I bike pretty much everywhere, but I’ve kept the skirts for the most part — I just make sure I wear ones that don’t get tangled in anything! The one thing I generally don’t wear my skirts for is helping out on my brother’s farm — I wear worn-out ratty old jeans and t-shirts I don’t like for that, since everything I wear on the farm gets dirty/stained and worn hard, so I don’t want to ruin my skirts that way. I’ve gotten used to it, though, so that doesn’t mess with my identity too much. 🙂

    • I’m a skirt girl as well. I started wearing skirts maybe three or four years ago mostly out of frustration at finding pants that fit properly and then because they’re super comfortable. Now any time I wear pants someone says, “Hey, you’re wearing pants.” It’s just kind of funny.

      • haha, that is exactly me.

        except i went from having never worn a skirt in my life (well, not of my own volition) to pretty much exclusively wearing skirts, and the funniest thing is how long it took people to change their image of me. i had people i know well make “oh! you’re wearing a skirt!” comments *years* after i started wearing skirts daily – i guess they just always thought of me as “that tomboy” and didn’t even notice the change happening until it was way over.

      • Yeah, I love the “You’re wearing pants!” comments — it makes it sound like I usually walk around in my skivvies! 😀

      • Skirt-wearers represent!
        I get “OMG PANTS” reactions from people who’ve only known me a couple of months, so I know the association is still going strong!

  20. Hi Ariel, I recently re-connected with an old friend I hadn’t seen since the days I wore orange snakeskin-patterned flares at university. Now I wear corporate office gear for my job as a political lobbiest and lawyer. My friend and her family saw the photo of me that gets printed with my fortnightly newspaper column and were disappointed that I’ve turned conservative! When we started hanging out again she said I’m still the same person, but instead of holding placards at rallies I have now taken my protest work to meeting rooms and court chambers. Appearance is just that: appearance. You can rock on no matter what you look like.

  21. My hair growing up was usually long and dirty blonde. Then in high school I cut it all off (boy short) and got highlights. Then dyed it red, then blonde (with an unfortunate washed out pink faze in between these two colors). I grew it out and went back to my natural color in college and when it was really long I chopped it all off in a cute bob and got highlights again. There was a lot of growing my out only to chop it short again, and it was usually brown until I decided it was a really good idea to dye it white blonde right before I moved to Korea where the hair stylists had no idea what to do with my hair. I’ve spent a long time fazing out the cheap Korean blonde dye I used and growing my hair out. I thought I was going to be working in the schools and wanted to look conservative so I opted for highlights and a long layered cut. I’m suuuuper lazy and would go so long between highlighting that I developed an ombre look (thank god it’s in style) and have now found a hairdresser that I only have to go to once or twice a year and my hair still looks awesome. This is good because it turns out I’m allergic to dye on my scalp. After having crazy colored and boldly cut hair for so many years I’ve been feeling a bit boring and the conservative look seemed unnecessary because I’m working as an artist, not a teacher. I didn’t want to let go of my easy-upkeep hair, so I added bright red tips which have now faded to a kind of coral-colored wash. I’ve had so many signature looks over the years (boy short red, white blonde bob, long and natural) and I’ve learned to just go with what I feel like doing. People always seem so shocked when I chop off my hair or dye it a crazy color but it’s just hair and it doesn’t define you as a person. I’ve never regretted a cut or color and I can say that I’ve experimented with what works and doesn’t work for my hair. I’m enjoying my super long (down to my tailbone) ombre blonde hair with red tips because it’s part low-maintenance and part fun. When this style no longer suits me I’ll change it, but it won’t change me one bit.

    • AMEN: “When this style no longer suits me I’ll change it, but it won’t change me one bit.”

  22. Once, in the heat madness that is summer in Florida, I cut my signature waist length hair into some sort of shaggy pixie cut. And I freaking loved it for a long time! I kept it in various styles of pixie short for a few years and rocked it. I loved the reaction I’d get from people who hadn’t seen me in a while, the extra bucks I had from less shampoo/conditioner/hair ties, feeling the breeze in my hair and enjoying it instead of worrying how I would ever brush out the subsequent knots.

    But then I started to hate it. I hated having to get it trimmed every other week. I hated not having any options for hair styles other than messy or not messy. I eventually grew it back out and I now look more or less exactly like my over-a-decade-old high school senior portrait, right down to the color since I’ve also reverted to my natural one for the first time in years. And, of course, I’m itching to change it again! Change is good. Staleness is bad. Reverting to an old favorite after a change is fine too.

  23. I’ve had green, orange, blue, red and purple hair through the years. I gave up my long purple hair (which was my longest running non natural hair color) because my now ex-husband told me I was too old for it. After our divorce was final, I celebrated by getting a super short pixie and dyeing it crazy red. Unfortunately, I’ve sworn off the chemicals, so until my hair is all gray and able to be made crazy ass red naturally with henna, it’s boring old black/brown for me from now on. And long, because it’s just easier to put it up out of my face. I think your hair looks nice. Change is good. I’ve always been the sort who gets antsy if my hair looks the same for too long.

  24. Not a hair or clothing style, but I had a turbulent time when my truck died. Right out of high school, I bought myself a tiny little beat-up red pick up truck; they put a lien on my motorcycle so I didn’t need to have a cosigner, just my name on that lease. It wasn’t too stand outish in Virginia where I was living, aside from being female, but more so when I moved up to Boston. I’d decided on a truck because one of my high school friends had one, and I’d seen how useful it was when so many of my friends had to do emergency move outs of difficult homes.

    So much of my personal identity ended up getting tied into that truck. People noticed me when I pulled up somewhere, remembered me when things needed moving, formed opinions of me or cracked butch lesbian jokes about the bi chick with a truck. I spent a bit crying in the driver’s seat after our last short drive after the mechanic declared her dead, and struggled over rewriting my OKCupid profile question ‘What’s the first thing people notice about you?’.

    I know I’ll likely never get another truck, I won’t have any excuses to; they’re gas hogs, I’m in a relationship that will need back seats in the future, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel okay driving on the ‘wrong’ side in my new country, etc. It’s still just weird to have gone from the funky bi chick with the truck who will help you carry shit around and be one of the guys, to the bicycle riding, sensible riding layers wearing, ‘can I wear these boots comfortably all day?’ woman in a serious, heteronormative appearing relationship.

  25. The only time I had a “style” was in undergrad – my hair was spunky and short, and I wore lots of skirts and beads. But over time I got tired of getting haircuts every six weeks, and I found I was more comfortable in pants (sometimes a skirt is just too much airflow, especially in the chilly Midwest… or when you’re a woman walking alone).

    I felt a little sad, definitely. I felt like I was giving up my only edginess when I let my hair grow out. But ultimately I’ve decided that while a good outfit can improve my mood or my feeling of self-worth for a moment, I need to learn to love myself no matter what I’m wearing.

    Plus: strangers love to talk to me, which I don’t mind, but attention-getting style of any kind is like a big neon invitation for everyone ever to a) tell me their life story or b) hit on me. So I guess I wear jazzy stuff only when I’m ready to deal with the aftermath, too.

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