Thursday, April 03, 2008

Parsing Hair Color for Girls

My position on the matter is made obvious by the fact that E had slowly-fading pink hair for about five months last year (we were amazed that it lasted so long), and M currently sports a subtle shade of purple. Our biggest problem is how to get color to show on M's dark brown locks. This is a problem because I refuse to let her bleach it (I do, occasionally, draw lines), but I'm sure that by high school, if not eighth grade, she'll be doing it herself.

This NY Times article on the subject typically confuses the issues: there is coloring hair, there is paying lots of money to color hair at a salon, there is the sociocultural landscape of hair color (which they barely touch upon).

We color hair pink and purple (next up: blue) at home on the cheap because my kids want to be punk/hip/pretty/different, which is a spot on the cultural landscape that they can inhabit but I certainly couldn't. But am I really any different from the moms who take their daughters to Frederic Fekkai for $400 caramel highlights because the girls want it and it will make them feel good about themselves? I like to think I am--in my DIY/boho self-righteousness--but maybe not.


Libby said...

Becca, I've been trying to write a piece about this for, literally, four+ years. (However long ago it was that Mariah first colored her hair black.) It is really hard for me to parse it, too.

M said...

Personally i think the salon thing is STUPID. But doing it at home is fine with me.

robin said...

I guess doing it at home has the adventure factor. Like, "Ooooh! Here's this thing, and what if we do THIS!" while the salon cultivates a little bit of a pampered situation when the coloring could (ideally) be about exploring/expressing and not exactly pampering.(i had some comments over at

jackie said...

Isn't there something to be said here about conforming to societal standards of beauty (caramel Fekkai) and instead about encouraging a more playful attitude towards your looks (without getting near the commodification and mall-ification of punk-rock)?

Note how I bring it up, but cannot actually write any longer comment on it :).