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There’s this thing that happens at a certain point in all of my friendships. We will be talking about grooming and our hair, and one day, I will casually declare that I need to get my roots done. A cloud of surprise will slowly grow on my friends’ faces as I elaborate to reveal the truth.

I have not always been a blonde.

“My hair used to be dark, like yours,” I’ll say.

“But your eyebrows! They’re totally the right color!” They say in disbelief.

I smile and nod knowingly. I’ve had this conversation many times.

I was born a blonde.

A curly-haired, haloed blonde, if you will. As my hormones started to kick in, my hair began to darken. By the seventh grade, it was full on brown. I lived contedly in this state for many years until one summer in high school, when I put Sun-In in my hair while I was at the beach. It brought out all of my natural blonde highlights in full force, and I loved it.

In high school, I was just a sweet and innocent girl who had never dyed her hair before. I was nervous about what that kind of permanence would mean for my hair. Not only was I naïve, I also had commitment issues.

After much agonizing, I decided to get highlights halfway through my senior year of high school. They were all wrong—too light and too thick. But the next time the highlights came out more evenly, and I liked them better. Finally, before I went to college—where I learned not only about my chosen major and the real world, but also about myself—I put my whole head under and never looked back.

Everyone in college knew me as a bright, bubbly, blonde, and I loved that.

In college, I began coming out as not a natural blonde. As an adult, I reveal it casually if it comes up in conversation. In college, I did it for dramatic effect. Sometimes I even teased about returning to my natural color. But I never did, aside from that one time that I felt restless and my hairdresser convinced me to dye my bottom layer my natural color, a change that supposedly doubled as healthy hair preservation.

Sometimes I forgot that I hadn’t always looked this way. I forgot the process of becoming a blonde—the upkeep, the price, the time. It’s exhausting, really.

Getting your hair dyed in a salon takes at least 2 hours; it’s also expensive. So when I came home for breaks from college, my mom sometimes did it for me, using dye from a box, rather than at a hair salon.

The first few times my mom helped, we used a dreaded tool: The Cap.

For those unfamiliar with this method, it entails putting a cap on top of your head and—using a hook tool—pulling sections of your hair through tiny holes in the cap, until you look like a sea urchin. “Why would a person do this?” you ask. The sporadic sections of hair to which you apply the dye help to create a more textured, natural look. But the process is quite painful because—as you can imagine—the maneuver made my hair a chaotic mess of knots, and no matter how gentle she was, my mother would unintentionally yank my scalp in the process.

After a couple tries with The Cap, we moved on to a regular box, which came with its own set of problems.

We once chose the wrong color and my hair came out as more of a strawberry, dark blonde. “How did that happen?” you ask. God only knows. I was horrified, but luckily, dye diminishes with every wash. Eventually, I found my proper shade—Garnier’s Champagne. Extremely appropriate given my interests.

But now, as an adult living on my own, I get my hair dyed professionally—usually just a root touch up—at a reasonably-priced salon near my apartment. I found a friendly stylist who is very funny and gives me an amazing scalp massage. They even gave me a glass of wine while I waited for the dye to do its thing the last time that I was there. And, it’s in a cool part of L.A. that I don’t normally visit, so it’s a little added treat to walk around the neighborhood afterwards and feel fabulous with my new hair.

But being blonde also comes with some light baggage.

There’s the unfounded implication that blondes are slutty, as if hair is some kind of secret sex organ. In college, a male friend’s girlfriend was visiting and while we were all hanging out and chatting, she made a point of chillily saying, “I’ve been pulling your blonde hairs off the couch all weekend!” Like the presence of my blonde follicles was a threat to her relationship.

People have also implied that I’m stupid, simply because I have a bubbly personality and blonde hair. It’s ironic, frankly, because what is actually stupid is assuming that intelligence would be correlated to the color of dead cells emerging from a person’s scalp. Particularly when those dead cells may have been dyed that color. Who’s the dummy now?

Thankfully, that happens less and less as I get older.

Now that you know the truth about being blonde, you may still be wondering to yourself “Yeah, but, do blondes really have more fun?” No, not inherently. But, what I will say, is that my blonde hair definitely made me bolder. Well, it made me feel bolder. But I think that also comes with finding myself, and becoming a blonde helped me do that. Because being blonde is my choice, it has become an expression of who I am, just as much as my clothes, my writing, my hobbies, or anything else. It’s part of my personality, and it’s worth every penny.

Sydney Mineer

Sydney Mineer believes in Harvey Dent. She is the #1 bull terrier spotter in Los Angeles and is fluent in both Seinfeld and Spongebob references.

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