I was a toe head kid. The kind with wispy white curls, that later turned into golden shiny locks. Then suddenly, or so it seemed, it turned into a non-color: it was an ashy, reddish, brownish muddled dishwater mess. And so, I got highlights. At age 11. I know, I know, I know, I know know know know. It sounds bad. Like ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ bad. But my Mom, knowing my persistent nature and my inability to let sleeping dogs lie, decided it would be easier to agree to highlights than listen to hours of begging. I promise I was never a pageant kid nor is my Mom a pageant Mom. In her (and my own) defense, I have blonde lashes and blonde eyebrows, and the brown just didn’t look quite right. Beyond that, the beauty of blonde hair has been indoctrinated in my mind since birth–I come from the Midwest, where blonde hair and blues eyes aren’t just the ideal, they’re the norm.

Fast-forward 10 years, to a girl with hair on the verge of going the way of Gwen Stefani, in terms of damage and breakage. It was long, and luscious, and required more maintenance than reasonable. But every time my stylist tried to give my hair a short reprieve and tone down the bleach levels, my confidence would dip and I would silently hate appearance for the next six weeks until my hair could finally be given the hit of bleach it needed. On a weekly basis I had strangers come up to me in public and compliment my blonde hair. It’s the unassuming blonde hair–it looks natural, as I look about as northern European as they come, and it does a nice beach-y wave. It represents my personality: fun and didn’t take itself too seriously. The thought of brown hair on my head gave me heart palpitations.

I knew that my hair just couldn’t handle our volatile relationship anymore. So I moved 500 miles away from a single soul who knew the blonde me, and dyed my hair brown. When I moved here, it was (and continues to be) a big adjustment. The brown hair version of me represents a lot of things. It represents someone who is now a responsible, completely, for her well-being. It represents someone who is bolder in her actions. It represents someone going through an identity crisis. It represents both the good and bad of where I’m at right now. But I have grown to love it. I take myself more seriously with brown hair, and I feel like others do as well. I am more confident—in my thoughts and in my outward appearance. The brown-haired version of me likes to think of herself as Anne Hathaway as Catwoman (that is a reeeeach). On the other hand, this hair also represents someone who is trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. Does having brown hair make me an adult? In my mind…it kind of does.

It’s interesting how attached we become to our hair as women. It ends up becoming an extension of our personality. A horrific haircut or bad hair day can jilt even the most level-headed lady.  Very few women wear their hair exactly how it grows. We add layers, we color it, we braid it, we pin it. What does our obsession with our hair say about what we value in ourselves? What we value in women? Rarely do you see a man taking the time to add pomade to his hair, or even run a comb through it.

Anyway, what’s your relationship to your hair? Have you ever gotten a bad haircut? Do you have a constant love/hate relationship with your hair? Do blondes have more fun? Do you spell blonde with or without an ‘e’?