Why I Dyed My Hair Purple, and Other Apparently Horrific Things I Did to My Appearance

“Don’t do it.”

This was the response I got when I told my mother I was about to have a needle jabbed into my nose for the septum piercing I had been coveting for some time.

And she was not alone. I had a friend tell me she wouldn’t speak to me if I put such an offensive thing in my face. My grandmother told me it was disgusting and horrifying. My sister just screwed her mouth up into an undeniable grimace of distaste. Even my closest, most open friends were hesitant.

It was just so there. In your face.That was the explanation I got, at least.

The reality though, is that it was just so against our conventional ideas of what is attractive. And if my worth in this world is defined by anything, it is my ability as a woman to attract the opposite sex (actual sexuality be damned… heteronormativity, man).

Not only was my choice offensive to people because it was going against our societal rules as to what dictates attractiveness, but it was simply unconventional. Tattoos and nose studs have worked their way into the mainstream, but there are lines that people have drawn in the sand.

Invisible lines, I’ll have you know. Arbitrary lines.

Opinions.

And that’s what it all boils down to. My decision to pierce my nose should have been mine, and mine alone. It shouldn’t have been up to anyone else. I informed people of my plans and did not ask for their opinions, but I received many.

How dare I break with what cisgendered, heteronormative culture defines as pretty? How dare I not listen when my friends and family pleaded that I was ruining everything about how I present myself to the world with one tiny piece of metal?

The irony was that once it was actually there, once people could actually see it, the response was overwhelmingly positive. And why was that? Because it looked good. Because even with that “thing” in my nose, I was still “pretty.” And so it was deemed okay.

The kicker is that my septum ring makes me feel like the prettiest badass in the world. My attraction to it was pretty immediate, a fascination that turned into an obsession. It embodied everything I wanted to be; feminist, counterculture, individual. Even more than that, as someone who has spent most of her life eating in disordered ways because I wanted to be deemed attractive by societal standards, deciding to alter my appearance in such a way that was so opposite of mainstream sexiness was liberating.

I was me, and me was awesome, even if no one wanted to fuck me. And whether it was my clothes or my body weight or my septum ring, whatever it was that made people cower in fear over my ugliness, it was these things that made me, me. It was these things that made me feel like myself.

And so we get to the hair. Lavender, grey, silver, purple hair. I wanted it. I wanted to be a fucking mermaid, goddammit. And no one was going to stop me.

Again, I faced some resistance. I didn’t tell nearly as many people that I was going to do it (lesson learned, huh?). But I did it, without much hesitation or fear.

And that feeling, that feeling of looking in the mirror and knowing that the person who looked back at me was truly, unapologetically me, that feeling that I got when I put that ring in my nose and proudly posted a selfie for all of social media to see… I got that feeling again.

There’s something very special about making your outside match your insides. Sometimes, you get caught up in what everyone else wants you to look like; how everyone else thinks you should present yourself to the world.

But sometimes, once you get past all of that crap, once you wade through it all, you can find who you are at the core.

Trust your gut.

In my experience, it never lets you down.