Words by: Soraya Rezal Art by: Lauren Easter
Looks and appearances are everything, apparently. The clothes we wear, the colour of our hair, the amount of piercings and tattoos we have — these are all things that are often judged by other people. In 2022, you’d think we should be able to present ourselves however we want. However, my personal experience proves otherwise.
Within the past six years, I’ve dyed my hair six times. One for every year, I guess. What’s funny is that almost every time I post a picture of my new hair on Instagram, my DMs are flooded with friends asking if I’m okay. It seems that people think dyeing one’s hair equates to an existential crisis.
The most dramatic hair colour I’ve had was a bright bluish-green. That came with its own consequences, especially in an environment where anything that isn’t part of the norm is considered a disgrace. Going to the shopping centre was lowkey torturous because people’s heads would turn — and not in a good way. I tried not to take it to heart but I must admit, it’s really tough when people are judging you left and right.
Of all the different reactions my coloured hair has received, one incident stands out. In 2019, I was heading towards the boarding gate at the airport to go on holiday with my family. As I went through the final security checks, I was stopped by two police officers who demanded my personal details. At this point, I was a clueless 17-year-old who tried hard to play by the rules, so being stopped at the airport was terrifying. My mum overheard them asking me for my details and she asked what they were going to use it for. They refused to give her a valid answer and told us that it was only for their records. As I went to leave, I heard one officer say, “I bet she’s up to no good”. The other one, saying that I must be “smuggling drugs”. They really thought they were being discrete by speaking in a different language… well guess what? I’m bilingual, and I perfectly understood what they said (*drops mic*).
Now, why is it that when I had black hair, none of this happened? They must’ve thought, ‘she has green hair and a helix piercing? That’s just diabolical’. Let me also remind you that this happened only three years ago. I thought society was way past discriminating and making judgements solely based on people’s appearances, but damn was I wrong.
Despite all the negativity, I held my (very green) head up high. In the end, going through all these experiences was worth it to me because having dyed hair helped me regain the self-confidence that I’d lost along the way. It’s also a really fun way to express yourself. 10/10 would recommend!
The Cambridge Dictionary defines politics as ‘the relationships within a group or organisation that allow particular people to have power over others’. The keyword here is power. Somehow, the stereotype of a person in power appearing as a formally dressed, often cis-gendered man still prevails. Does that mean if you’re a woman with a full-sleeve tattoo and an out-of-the-ordinary hair colour, you won’t be the next CEO of a big company? In my opinion, absolutely not. Just because a workplace has a strict dress code, doesn’t mean that it should hold you back from achieving your full potential. In contrast with the opening sentence of this article, looks are NOT everything. It’s just one part of who we are as humans. Also, if you have tattoos, coloured hair and a ton of piercings, you’re a super cool human in my book.