It’s been 2 years. Well, just over 2 years.
One morning during the summer of 2016, right smack in the middle of recording my band’s most recent album [After Laughter], I called Brian and proclaimed, with passion, that I needed a change. He was a little hesitant about my idea and rightly so, seeing as we’d just launched a company devoted to bright, neon hair dyes. He listened, nonetheless.
“I need to see myself as a blank page. I can’t look at myself and keep comparing that person to all the other versions of her that were better, or happier. There’s got to be a way that I can get to know the person that I am now. We’ve always done that with my hair and this won’t be any different, it’s just… not going to be a color.”
Finally, I convinced him. So, after suffering through two more days with my old Steal My Sunshine test-formula dye job and 3-inch greasy roots, Brian bleached my hair to smithereens. I emerged from the shampoo bowl looking like a tiny (and much less tense) Malfoy. One look in the mirror and any doubts I might’ve had just disappeared. That was me. I knew I’d uncovered a part of myself that was desperate to be seen and understood. Even Brian was surprised at how much he liked it. The more I’d play new Paramore songs for him and the more we’d talk about life and where we both were at, the more the bottle blonde ‘do made sense.
Over the next few weeks, I got more comfortable with the change. I was playing around with makeup again and experimenting with my fashion choices. It really helped me to combat some of my anxieties too. The best part of the whole thing was realizing how much I love wearing the color red. I loved how graphic the white and red looked together. That look inadvertently became a big part of the After Laughter visuals: red denim jacket and trousers for Hard Times, red dress and beret for Told You So… even my 3-piece vintage look for Rose Colored Boy. The only video I didn’t wear red for is Fake Happy. Only now am I starting to see more meaning in all of it. A look of truth and liberation vs. one of discontent and discomfort. Color was still a huge part of my life story with or without it being on top of my head.
So after a whole album cycle of wrestling with my own growth, I felt like I’d reached some sort of new checkpoint in the whole process. It occurred to me that it might be time to once again embrace a new season of life, hair first. Why change the process? It’s what has always worked for me. Hair, just like songwriting, is a very expressive outlet. I started flirting with the idea of letting Brian dye my hair a more natural color – inspired by the fact that Paramore as a collective unit decided we desired some time at home. After trying to imagine myself with brightly colored hair, walking around my hometown, doing very basic things… it just didn’t feel right to me yet.
A few days later, Brian sent me a picture of Goldie Hawn in her 30’s, sometime in the early 80’s. That was it! I’m getting ready to turn 30 soon. I’m going to have my first chance at really living at home (sans band drama) since nearly half-my-life ago. What better way to embrace this forward motion than to try something new and completely void of parallels from other eras of my life?
This is me, for now. It feels strange and new and there are days I know I’ll eventually want something more exciting at the top of my head. But, y’know what? I’ve never felt more myself. Maybe neon-me isn’t “back” but my hair is no longer a reflection of bleakness, void of color. Plus, isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Brian & I created Poser Paste for? I can mess around with color and wash it out until I feel the urge for something a little more permanent. That’s what keeps me interested in identity and presentation. Nothing is actually ever permanent. We keep creating and discovering ourselves, forever. All these years later, hair is still one of my favorite ways to do that. I really want to know more about other people’s hair journeys. I know everyone has a hair story and they all say something profound about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go. So please feel free to share via socials or contribute to Strands by submitting your own stories and musings. Thanks for reading about mine.
Yours in technicolor… and now in dirty blonde,
Written by Hayley Williams, Founder of Good Dye Young.
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