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.

To learn how you can submit your own work, please click here.

36 thoughts on “BLEAK BLONDE

  1. Fran says:

    Probably since my teens people would say nice things about my hair, how shiney, soft and lovely it was. Was one of the only things I actually remember having positive comments for, I was shy didn’t look people in the eye, walked with my head down. So I try and make sure I looked after my hair, as at least THAT was being noticed. Over the years I began to dye it/use extentions to add colour. I would spend a lot of time drying and tending to it before school, before work, before leaving the house so it was looking its best. A few decades on, I had a baby (so less time for managing my hair so much) quickly followed by breast cancer. I lost all my hair, eyebrows, most if my eyelashes. Its sad that it my main inital worry when told i’d cancer was not the cancer, not the surgery or the chemo but loosing my hair. Treatemrnt staryed fairly quickly and buy round 2 of chemo the hair went and I was left with a bald egg head, i’d never seen mysrlf in this way before, it was very odd, alien, i had to really start at myself in the mirror to recognise myself, my eyes were familar buy even they were slightly odd, sader, older. I tried wigs and hairs scarves, but its wasn’t the same and most were unconfortable, eventually I just went bald (I wasn’t an attractive bald like some woman are!). There just came a point where the missing hair didnt matter anymore. I had become enough, my view of myself and what I could get through, how weak I may have thought i was, was changing ..i walked with my bald head up. I knew who I was and what was import to me. Now I’m better and have hair again I still experiment with cuts, buzz cuts, colour etc. I dont spend quite so much time on it as I did before. I still love hair, it’s what I notice first about a person and it always makes me want to know more about them.

  2. R_Bash says:

    This was such a wonderful read.

    There’s not a whole lot to say when it comes to my hair. It’s been my natural dark brown color for pretty much all my life. The only hair dyeing experience I’ve had was adding auburn highlights to my choppy layered haircut when I was about 14 years old. Eventually I got tired with the style after having it for over a year and then dyed it brown again to get rid of the auburn color. After that I decided to just let my hair grow because I wanted to know what it was like to have longer hair than what I have been used to. I’m 22 now and haven’t done much to it since; and really as of now, I want to do something new but not sure what to do yet.

    I’ve loved colorful hair for as long as I can remember. I think it brings out a unique and fun side out of someone. I remember wanting to dye my hair a color out of the rainbow after seeing some of my friends/peers at school with it when I was younger and still want to do it today. It’s the only thing that caught my interest when it came to anything beauty related. But my parents wouldn’t allow me to have it which sucked in a lot of ways. And now it’s “unprofessional” to have at work.

    One day I’ll have the bravery/ opportunity to express myself with a unique color on my head semi-permanently. But until then I’ll keep experimenting with Poser Paste (which has been pretty fun btw).

    So there’s my short story about my hair and thanks again for sharing yours Hayley. 🙂

  3. juzzua says:

    When I was a kid I was jealous of people has colored hair. I thought that they were in a band or something haha. I also remember obsessing about Hayley’s hair on TWYG. I started dyeing/bleaching my hair when I was in High School (summer break). I was scared of bleaching my hair at first because it was my first time and I was kinda scared of damage. but after bleaching I feet like I was a changed person haha but change feels so good!!! Then I dyed my hair red (Ofc inspired by red headed Hayley lmao).It was hard because everyone around me kept telling me that I look like shit, I look ugly with my hair. I ignored them but then when I dyed my hair green for our cosplay in school (I cosplayed Joker). Some liked my hair but my relatives kept calling me things like I look like a tree or whateva. I was sad because I loved my green hair and I never heard them liking it. Every single day I had to listen to their bs. I stopped dyeing for a very long time but when GDY came I became obsessed with dyeing my hair. When I tried Narwhal I loved it. I stopped caring about what other people think or say. After 9 months of Narwhal. Last August I dyed my hair with Ex-Girl (I LOVE IT SO MUCH IM CRYING) for Tour 6 in Manila and my parents loved it lmao my mom wanted me to dye her hair too but I used all the product.

    I really want to wear poser paste for my graduation picture on December but shipping is so expensive + broke life ugh (ˢᵉⁿᵈ ᵐᵉ ᶠʳᵉᵉ ᵈʸᵉˢ ᶠᵒʳ ᵍʳᵃᵈᵘᵃᵗᶦᵒⁿ ʲᵏᵏᵏ ˢˡᶦᵍʰᵗ). If I graduate next year I swear I’ll dye my hair with steal my sunshine as thank u. I just want to thank you for this ya know. Inspiring people to express themselves through hair dyes. Thank you for doing this + wish me luck on graduating !!! 🙂 Love yall

  4. kellymason says:

    I feel like we grew up together. I’m turning 30 next month and remember seeing your first Seattle show in 2006 and thinking “finally, a girl with my attitude who can actually express herself.” Your red hair was a symbol of something fiery and new. You didn’t seem to give a shit about anything but being the best version of yourself and taking the high road when you had to. I can imagine that your hair was a way of expressing all the things you knew you couldn’t explicitly say out loud.

    I started dyeing my hair box red at 15 (probably inspired by you, let’s be honest) and kept up the same look for a solid decade before realizing that hiding behind this shield wasn’t making me happy. It felt good when people noticed me because of my hair. It was a safety net in a time when nobody had ever complimented the way I looked unprompted.

    A few years ago, I kind of all-at-once gave the middle finger to the idea that I had to look a certain way for people to respect me (also… so many chemicals), so I stopped tending to my more superficial qualities aside from basic hygiene and moisturizer. I got less attention and fell into a spiral of self-loathing, but I felt like I needed to figure out who I was outside of the way I outwardly presented myself. The internet is dangerous in this way: If you don’t look the part, onto the next one. I wanted to force myself to get used to this idea and hone my photography craft to the point where people weren’t just nice to me because they thought I was pretty. I guess it worked, because it led me to tour opportunities with awesome humans who are more concerned with whether you’re a good person than the most beautiful.

    After spending too much of my 20s trying to find myself again, last year I said “fuck it!” and bleached my hair for the first time before going to Burning Man–also for the first time–and realized I could have unique hair and not be a nitwit about it. It’s truly a blank slate for whatever color you want to try. Once I finally have a professional even me out, I’m diving into GDY products. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your story and giving us a platform to share ours! You da bomb.

  5. Kate161 says:

    I’m so glad that there is a community of people that are open about how they tie their emotional maturity and life events to the colour of their hair. I am not alone. I feel like as I have hit milestones in my life I automatically mark that by marching to my hairdresser. She is always all-too-happy to oblige a wacky colour.
    The story goes that in my teen years people were very vocal about how they saw me as a very outgoing, bubbly person. I always had bright shocking hair and I was known for that, and by extension those two ran side by side. When I left school I felt like I had ‘grown up’ and away from perhaps this ‘childish’ phase. I went back to my natural colour, hoping to gain some kind of respect and be taken more seriously by people older than me. Maybe gain some favour. I ended up going to university- not because I particularly wanted to, or because I thought it would help me in what I wanted to do- but because I had be expected to (and obviously it’s a privilege). That being said it had made me completely miserable and I hated every moment, which is a whole other journey. Long story short I ended up in a very dark place with depression and had lost sight of the vibrant person I had been previously. Side note: I realized quickly that your hair colour isn’t going to change how people see you, or what they say to you, and you to them. Generally, respect is earned regardless of if your hair is green. I digress. Eventually I managed to land myself a full time job (that, by the way, has nothing to do with my degree- thank God) and in celebration I went and had my hair stripped down to the route blonde. I felt like it was transformational and like a reward for perseverance that I could even afford to keep up with it. I could find myself once more. Everything was good for a while, coming back up and gasping for air, rediscovering who I was.
    I feel like a lot of things made me feel like I was a shell of myself around the dark times, and honestly I could not remember the strong-willed, bubbly girl I had been- and at this point I was letting people walk all over me, constantly. I had been allowing people to have some weird Divine control over how I felt, because a lot of the time I felt like I couldn’t summon the energy to decide that for myself. A week ago I made my hairdressers day by asking her to dye my hair back to a vibrant firey red. It didn’t feel like an immature colour that I’d left behind- it sounds odd but as soon as I saw it, it felt like home. I really wanted to rediscover the person that I really was; confident and outgoing and kind. Before then it would have almost felt regressive, in a way. Everytime I see it in the mirror I’m like yes! You are strong and you are fiery you get it girl.
    If you’re reading it and you made it this far congrats, and thanks for allowing me to ramble for too long about my hair. xoxo

  6. LaBruja says:

    I’m currently going through something with myself and as a result I’m changing my color constantly. And as a licensed hair stylist I feel like I have to always change it (or that’s my excuse)
    I just haven’t been happy with myself and I’m worried it’s because now that I have a new job where I’m not stressed at, that I’m putting my stress and anxiety into something else and what’s an easier target then myself.
    So this past summer I have gone from neon orange, red-orange, pink/purple/blue unicorn, back to orange and now I’m currently pink.
    I’m planning on going back to a natural color but I’m so scared I will no longer have that little bit of control over myself. I’ve already shaved one side of my head to gain some sort of control.
    I hope with going back to a natural color that I can ONE use warm water on my head again, I’m tired of usuing ice cold water to make sure my color doesn’t run and TWO be okay with whatever life tosses at me, if I can handle not having the ability to throw whatever I have into my hair, I can handle whatever I’m going through personally and THREE to get my hair grow for Pete’s sake. For a half Mexican I don’t have strong hair to bleach.
    But I hope to find myself again with my naturally dark hair. My crazy adventure with fashion colors will have to end pretty soon.
    Thank you for listening to me. IG @SaraSmiles4L
    Professional hair IG @SaraVictoriaHair

  7. Stina says:

    I cut my hair short one other time in my life. I was 8 and expected short hair and bangs to be so exciting and important of an event in my life only to end up hating it. Ever since then, I grew it long. Long, chocolate brown, and side bangs for years. Then, at the age 11, someone told me and my mom I had lice and my mom decided to get rid of it by dying it my natural color. As far as I know, it worked. (That is, if I ever even had lice lmao) Nobody ever noticed and my hair didn’t look different at all but knowing my hair was dyed made me feel so different. It was life that episode of Gilmore Girls where Lane makes Rory dye dye her hair purple and then she freaks out and makes her dye it back. Something about just knowing my hair had been changed was empowering even though nobody could see it. By age 14, my hair had grown out to be longer than ever before and the only part that still had dye on it had been lightened significantly by the sun giving me an unintentional, subtle, ombré effect. One night, my mom and my sister and I found ourselves at the drugstore looking to buy nail polish and left the store with red and green hair dye. That night, in the bathroom I shared with my sister and brothers off and on my throughout entire life, my hair was dyed an ombré red and I felt incredible. I didn’t quite understand the differences in style and what box having colored hair would put me into through the eyes of a stranger, but something about it made me feel so cool and even brave. The color never washed out, it barely faded and it stayed until I had my hair cut several times. After that, My hair was cut a couple more time to be a borderline medium to long length and finally, the idea of getting bangs washed over me and I did just that…. I went to hair salon I trusted and they had a stylist in training cut my hair (without telling me she was in training) and she had no idea how to cut bangs and left me with this weird haircut I ended up fixing myself when I got home. I felt ~cuteeee~ after I finished my bangs. They were in combination with a side part because I had commitment issues and didn’t want to switch to a middle part just yet. I cut those bangs myself until the next year and got yet another bad haircut. Got that fixed and then randomly, I went to cut my bangs and started with a middle part. SO MUCH EASIER TO DO, MY FRIENDS. That was just last December, and I rocked that until April of this year. This was my biggest change in a while and when you talked about needing a change, I related to it so much because I had been having some real humbling moments in my life and realizations about myself were hitting me so hard a few months before the ending of the year. Wanting to go short again excited me and made feel like I was finally taking a lil tiny risk. It became a source of hope as well has finally having a whole sense of style to kind of identify but also play around with. This would be the year I turned 18 and I needed a change so badly for so long that when opportunities for change kept popping up, for the first time ever, I didn’t dread them. I embraced them. This April, I had my hair cut “short” or so I thought. It was actually just between medium length and short hair but it was a huge deal either way to me. I freaked me out as the cuts were made because for some reason I really didn’t expect her to go right to chopping the length off so when 9 inches of hair started hitting the floor I definitely panicked a bit. I had mentioned to the stylist that I had been looking to pick up a diffuser piece for my blow dryer and and when the time came for her to dry my hair, she offered the option of a diffuser and I was like HELL YEAH PLEASE. I went home and danced around my room and threw my hair around and I remember thinking so many times, “I have never felt more like myself than I do now.” And months later, I had my friend who is not a trained professional and is not looking to be, cut my hair in her bathroom. It definitely come out much shorter than before and surprisingly the world didn’t end so a couple months later, I made my sister do the same thing to me. There is something about challenging yourself with hair. Somehow, I went from being terrified of switching my bangs from a side to a middle part to cutting my hair short 3 times and forcing my friends to cut my hair in bathrooms in only a year. Hair represents character development. Ask anyone. That is all.

    -the stina machine ⚡️

  8. wheres_perry says:

    I’m not into hair dyeing, to be honest (though I admit that your Poser Paste is quite intresting) – so, what am I doing here? I don’t know, really. I just had something to say, I guess, and this seems a safer place than Twitter or Instagram. Definitely my hair plays a role on my personality.

    I used to hate my messy curly hair, as a kid. I felt like a less pretty Hermione Granger, to mention another Harry Potter character. Through my teenage years I noticed that whenever I needed a fresh start, especially on a sentimental level, a new haircut was a good first step. It always feels cathartic, like a ritual I need to move forward.

    The best thing I’ve ever done with my hair so far was a pixie haircut I did in 2011, when I was 18. It was amazing, I never felt so confident before. I kept that look for two years but then I wanted my long curls back.

    In the last few years I went through a dark period of my life with very low self-esteem. I started doubting myself, I doubted about my whole life and my university career. I was scared about the future. I wasn’t taking care of my hair and my whole body, during this time. I think I really started hating my appearance, at some point.

    I recently changed my haircut but this time I didn’t know what I wanted them to look like so it was not that drastic change. Anyway, I started liking my hair again. I also started trying to focus on my present in order to achieve my goals and not being anxious about the future.

    Thanks, Hayley, for being so caring. Love from Italy.

  9. juliagulia says:

    My long brown hair has always been something I’ve relied on as a sort of security blanket. Three years ago I bleached my elbow-length, chocolate brown hair bright blonde to see if I would like it (I didn’t and the damage was horrible). I eventually dyed my dry, lifeless hair back to dark brown and spent months using deep conditioners and hair masks to try and bring some life back into it, but nothing seemed to work. After spending an hour on my hair (and not being happy with the results) I went to a family party where I was told I “spent too much time on it trying to look pretty.” It set off something in my brain that made me incredibly hurt, as that was not who I wanted my friends and family to think of me as, someone who just wanted to “look pretty.” It also woke me up to the fact that I could no longer hold on to my damaged long locks. The next day I cut my hair into a chin length bob and never looked back. I’ve had my short hair now for three years and I’ve never been happier. It’s super healthy and makes me feel more like myself, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow it out again!

  10. hardcoreflowr says:

    Throughout my junior year and senior years of high school I had really long hair that was my natural boring brown color and I honestly hated it. The only reason I let it grow was because I didn’t know what to do with it, but every time I brought up that I wanted to cut it or do something different, everyone tried to change my mind because “long hair is so pretty!” My senior year was so stressful and I feel like I was kind of hiding behind my hair and using it to distract from my constant anxiety. When I graduated I finally cut my hair to my shoulders and felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, but fast forward to sophomore year of college right before my 20th birthday I cut it the shortest I’ve ever had it (not quite touching my shoulders) and dyed it bright purple! My roots are growing in and I told myself I was just going to dye it once to say I’ve had a crazy color, but I’m thinking about dying it red with Rock Lobster next! <3

  11. karolenius says:

    My story begins a little over a year ago. I’ve always had long hair (long as in down to my lower hip long). I defined myself through my long, beautiful brown hair. When I graduated last summer, I was completely broken. For almost two and a half years I was in an abuse relationship. It was all about me taking care of another person who was blaming me for everything, and in the end ended up hurting me more than I had ever been hurt before. At the same time, I was in the same class as and friends with poeple who treated me really badly. For some reason, I’ve always been an easy target for people to let all of their anger out on and making me the blame for everything that went wrong in their lives. I still can’t quite figure out why. The case is, I was in deep deep pain. My heart was aching, and I didn’t have anyone to go to about it, because at the same time I struggled with family problems. I literally wanted everything to just stop.
    At the same time, I felt like I’ve changed throughout those experiences. When I looked myself in the mirror, I no longer recognized the person staring back at me. What I saw in that long hair, was a happy and innocent person, who for me got lost some time ago. I ended up cutting my beautiful long hair of to my shoulders. I had it dyed with a light caramel colored ombré (which is a big deal for me, as I NEVER let any form of dye touch my hair). By doing that, I felt like I was cutting and hiding away all of my pain. I was no longer the girl with the long brown hair everyone had been seeing me as for all those years, I didn’t want to be her. With this new found identity I went out and started the journey of healing myself.
    A year later, my hair is still short. I haven’t let it grow out, but I recently decided to let it grow out again, and I didn’t even realize why before reflecting on this whole situation. Here I am, a year later, and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’ve found some amazing friends, who understands, loves an respects me for who I am. I started speaking with my dad again. All the people who made me feel bad and pushed me into my darkest place are gone. I learned to love myself again, and to only spend time with the people whom I value and actually brings me happiness. I’m not in pain anymore. My natural hair color is almost grown out again, but there’s still an inch or two of the light caramel color left. I look forward to the day it will be gone. Even though my long brown hair seemed to be symbolizing my pain back then, I actually realized that it was the short dyed hair that showed off my pain. Now that it’s almost gone, it seems to me that my pain has gone. I’m finally able to let he long haired girl back into my life. She will never be the one she was before the pain. She will be a better version of her. She will be good, I promise.

  12. Ebrie1 says:

    I have always admired people who dyed their whole heads glorious colors! The bravery, the courage to express yourself that way must feel amazing. It wasn’t until last year, at 36, that I was comfortable to try it myself. I don’t like to draw attention to myself. I don’t like to stand out. That changed a little when I got tattoos a few years prior. I can’t wear short sleeved shirts without people looking. But I got used to it. I love my tattoos. They’re art. Being an extremely creative person I felt a little more me with them. I loved my skin art. I loved the compliments and would pass them on to my tattoo artist. After playing with the idea to color my hair, it took a minute to find a hairdresser. They’re like tattoo artists. Unicorns. Has to be the right fit. After that I quickly got over the whole my husband loves my hair a certain way and he helped in that too. He told me it’s my life and my body. So that was it! I did it. It was liberating. I’ve had every color but red yellow and orange in my hair…I go for low maintenance. But it was so fun!!!! Now it’s fall and I went dark mahogany for the season. My hubby loves it, instead of the crazy colors. I knew he would. And I needed a break too. I do miss my bright blues in my hair and I’m sure come spring I’ll have some new idea I want to try. My hair does not define me. I can cut it short if I want to. I can shave my head. I can color it bright purple. I’ll still be me. Just a slightly different version. Who’s learning to love herself a little more every day. ?

  13. Arianna says:

    keeping it really simple and “short”.

    i never really liked my hair when i was younger. i used to put all kinds of products so it would be straight but none of them never REALLY worked (obviously. plus, i was going through puberty, so yeah). one of them even dyed it black. it was really weird.

    i think i was 15 years old the first time i decided to cut it. i was tired of not knowing how to handle it, so i chopped it off. asked my friends, my family and the stylist if it was the right thing to do and they all said no. so i went and did it. my hair was now a little bit above my shoulders. it grew back and a couple years later i cut it shorter. i donated it and that made me feel SO good. i was actually helping someone else by getting rid of something i wasn’t finding useful anymore. but by the time i got home i immediately started to hate my new look. who knows, maybe it was me, maybe it was whatever the stylist did with my hair. but i cried so damn much about it.

    then i learned to handle it. dyed my tips and started playing with my hair: different styles, different looks. i was a whole other person. a new one. it was pretty cool. i tried to keep dying strings of hair, but sooner or later it’d turn yellow again and that was it. but i got to know my hair. well, i get to know it EVERY SINGLE DAY. but you get what i mean.

    anyhoo, i went to college and had short hair for 5 whole years (but i’d cut it off and style it i different ways every two months or so). and there i was. i graduated. jobless. broke up with my boyfriend. with friends fleeing the country. almost alone.

    time for another change: let it grow, for you are growing too.

    even though i’d love to dye my whole hair with some Blue Ruin or Narwhal (but i ain’t got the moneyzzzz), i actually love how it looks right now.

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