Bright Sights

Colorful Hair Makes a Statement That Is More Than Root Deep

WORDS: JAQUE CRACIUNESCU
PHOTOS: CLAUDIA BRAVO MACPHERSON

In a sea of black, blond, brown and the occasional natural red comes a new cropping of colorful, more unnatural dos. Anything from highlighter pink to midnight blue or even the rarer tangerine orange are all making appearances atop students’ heads.

Although bright hair is nothing new, the sheer diversity and intensity of the color options available is something that has only recently begun to emerge.

“About a year ago, [colorful hair] really started catching on quite quickly,” said Becca Lewis, a 28-year-old nutrition major. “In the past year, it’s just everywhere.”

Becca Lewis

Becca Lewis

Lewis, who comes from a punk-rock background, found herself first dyeing her hair bright hues at the age of 12. Over the years, she says she has tested every color. Her more daring styles include a green Mohawk with purple leopard spots on her shaved sides.

“Back then, different colored hair was one of the only ways you could look different,” Lewis said. “Now, it makes it difficult to find a hair color that nobody else has, because everybody has colored hair.”

The most popular bright hair color on campus seems to be blue, while the more uncommon colors include yellow, green and orange – hence Lewis’ choice.

The idea of bright hair serving as both a confidence booster as well as a creative outlet are the two main reasons students are taking their strands for a dip in the rainbow.

Kacy Reese

Kacy Reese

“I feel like people are coming out of their shells more,” said Kacy Reese, a human development major.

Reese said she loves hair so much, she had previously considered becoming a cosmetologist.

“Hair is something you can play with to express yourself a lot better,” added Reese, who additionally enjoys expressing herself through colorful tattoos and piercings.

She said her hair, which has been a rusty red for the past few years, also helps empower her.

Communication studies student Alexis Heisdorf can relate to that.

Alexis Heisdorf

Alexis Heisdorf

“I get a lot of compliments on [my hair], so it makes me feel good,” said Heisdorf, whose hair was originally more of a plum that has now faded into a magenta.

She says her hair acts as a conversation starter, and it makes her more approachable.

Despite more people choosing to go brighter and lighter, people with colorful hair still are in the minority, which holds a certain allure.

Evelyn Ramirez

Evelyn Ramirez

Evelyn Ramirez, who only a year ago decided to dye her strands, was drawn to what bright hair could reveal about her personality. Pre-dye, Ramirez said people wouldn’t typically assume she is a risk-taker, because they would mistakenly label her as “conservative” or “shy.”

However, because of her bold choice of color – a bright blue on the lower half of her naturally wavy locks – she feels that people understand her better.

“Now that I dyed my hair, it’s so effortless to feel or seem creative,” said Ramirez, who is studying art education. “It identifies me.”

Colorful hair can also allow students the means to outwardly express their imagination.

Holly Luc

Holly Luc

For example, while most with bright hair find that one color is enough in a single look, Holly Luc, a sociology major, enjoys dabbling in two-tone color combinations, many times finding inspiration in food.

“If it’s a candy wrapper, and then if I find it’s a nice color combo, I’ll try it out,” Luc said.

Currently, her hair is a lilac ombre stemming from her roots, which fades into a cotton candy pink at the tips.

“That’s pretty much how I express myself,” Luc said. “For me, my hair is my canvas.”


Beauty Is In The Eye of Dominant Mainstream Society

BY: JAHNELLE WASHINGTON

The era of colored hair is coming full force. From bold, saturated tones to delicate pastels, women of all backgrounds are sporting every hue of the rainbow. Although it may seem as if this form of self-expression and identity is finally being embraced, colored hair illuminates deep-rooted ideals of western beauty embedded in mainstream society.  

Christine Kim, 20-year-old accounting major, models jet black hair, but has experimented with a multitude of colors since she was 12 years old. From pink, turquoise, red and green, her hair has been through it all. What began as “self expression,” however, soon turned into an unhealthy fixation with blonde hair color.

In high school, her classmates accepted her signature look.

“I was known as that Asian girl who always dyed her hair blonde,” Kim laughed.

And while her Korean-immigrant parents weren’t too thrilled about her rainbow-colored dye jobs, they were willing to accept blonde because it was considered a “natural” hair color.

Although Kim received support from her friends and family to dye her dark tresses blonde, she didn’t realize until years later the implications of her actions.

“It was definitely me trying to assimilate into Western beauty,” she said. “I did it for so many years. Especially during those crucial years from 14 to 17 when you’re really trying to figure out who you want to be and what you want to be.”

After high school, Kim decided to embrace her natural black hair and hasn’t dyed it since.

Looking toward the future, Kim said she would be willing to try grey, simply because she believes it’s the “it” trend as of now.

“I don’t think I would ever do blonde just because it takes me back to a place where I wanted to assimilate to something I was never going to be,” she said.

For her, seeing other women bleach their hair blonde forces her to revisit old wounds and is reminiscent of a mindset she had back at that time.

“I was paying $250 at salons to try and get my hair to look ‘Westernized,’” said Kim, adding that her attempts were “dumb” because her face wasn’t representative of those beauty ideals.

While she eventually overcame her internal struggles of self-identity, journalism student Megan Gonzalez battled backlash from family members. 

From deep blues and purples to her current tinge of coral pink, she is no stranger to the dyeing game.

“I first started just doing it for fun,” Gonzalez said. “It’s kind of like another accessory.”

Gonzalez recounted the reactions she received when she first debuted her dark blue hair at a family reunion.

“Most of them didn’t like it and said it was too extreme,” she claimed.

Her family wasn’t a fan of the deep blue, and they were even more dissatisfied with Gonzalez’s transition into lighter tones.

While her mother is more supportive than other family members, she still tries to steer her in the direction of less vibrant colors.

“I’ve had a few people tell me to stay away from pastels because of my skin tone,” she said. “My hair is currently a light pink and people keep saying they are surprised it looks good on me.”

Ruminating on her younger self, Gonzalez admitted she would have taken their advice in the past to stick to dark, subtle tones, thinking “Yeah, it probably wouldn't look good.”   

However, she would strongly reject those suggestions today.

“If they mentioned my skin tone, I would let them know people with darker skin can pull off any look,” she said. “It’s just having confidence with it.”

After a few dyes, Gonzalez’s family is more accepting of her color choices than before.

Kim and Gonzalez are just a few of the many women who fight to assert their beauty in a narrative that wasn’t made for them. Though the colored hair trend reiterates Western beauty standards, women of all skin tones and facial features are reclaiming it to celebrate what makes them most beautiful.