Exerting College Independence Through Hair Dye

This past weekend, I was offered the creative freedom to ombre my friend’s hair. I really am no expert when it comes to hair dye, but people often assume so because currently I have blonde streaks in my hair. Over the course of my college career, I’ve experimented with a box of reddish brown hair dye I found in the free box my first year, a free ombre kit I got from Rent The Runway, and the blonde streaks I paid another Mawrter to do on me. (I also often get free haircuts from my roommate!)

When my friend came to me asking me to do the favor of dyeing her hair, I gladly accepted. We went to Rite Aid to pick out a color and to buy aluminum foil. That same night, I dyed her hair in the Rhoads North 2nd bathroom while some other friends watched. My friend is Asian with very dark black hair, so I suggested she choose a blonde to lighten her hair. She wanted a more natural look and went with a light brown dye. I learned from my experiences that it is very difficult to lighten Asian hair without strong bleach. If you do choose a darker color to lighten dark hair, expect to wait a lot longer for the chemicals to lighten the hair compared to a lighter color dye. Most importantly, your hair will never change into the color listed on the box.

(below video is of me dyeing my hair during my first year at BMC)

I have observed that experimenting with one’s hair is almost an “underground tradition” among Bryn Mawr students. Other than dyeing hair, many other students get a buzz, short bob, or pixie cut, also known as the “Bryn Mawr chop” (this tumblr post defines it best). Others like to get tattoos or piercings. I think these actions are public gestures of independence, death to the patriarchy (as in we have control over our own beauty standards and bodies), and personal fashion/style.

I would love to dye my hair a funky color again, but I am trying to grow out my hair for it to be long and healthy by the Spring Dance Concert. My hair is also recovering from being bleached 3 times. I think it would be cool to have purple or blue hair. And maybe a little tattoo and some more ear piercings…

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