The teenage years are often characterized by a multitude of self-discoveries. Unsurprisingly, most teens adopt physical changes emblematic of these revelations and of their individuality. Some may choose to tattoo themselves with a symbol they find meaningful; others may reformat their wardrobe or pierce their skin. And others still may style their hair in a bold or peculiar manner. Due to the overpowering pressures of normality, these proclamations of individuality are, at times, not accepted quietly or approvingly by friends and family members, making the experience itself bold and peculiar. However, through distinct and valid reasons of their own, the following students have created or maintained their own unique hairstyles.
Experiment Pink Senior Natalie Fang dyed the bottom half of her hair during December of her junior year when she began to find her natural black hair slightly mundane. At the midsection of her hair, there begins an artful gradient from dark to light pink. After dyeing her hair, Fang found that “the shade changes almost every single time I wash my hair,” she said. This element of surprise that accompanies the bold color gives her a different experience that is anything but boring. “It’s in the spirit of adventure and experimentation,” Fang said. “I’m also planning on cutting it shorter and maybe dying it blue since I haven’t done that yet.” The only negative aspect that she can think of is the harm that frequent dyeing can have on hair, but “you can always just cut it and grow new healthier hair,” she said. When asked if she would revert to her natural color in the interest of future job interviews, Fang said she would “just resort to more natural colors, but ones that I haven’t yet tried.”
Staying Blue to Oneself Junior Julia Stemmer’s lush, indigo hair is the latest in her frequent trends of color transformations, which in the past have included purple, blue, green, teal, black, copper, and a wide range of pinks. Initially, Stemmer had planned on dyeing it a shade of violet, but for some reason, the dye turned into its current dark blue, which pleasantly surprised her and inspired her to dye it that color. Those around Stemmer are generally fascinated by the variety of her hair colors, though it wasn’t so easy at first. “My grandmother snidely commented, saying things like, ‘Are we ever going to see your hair color again? It’s so pretty,’” said Stemmer, who identifies this practice as an accessory or feature that defines the individual. The one aspect that sometimes does bother her is that her “hair-color-induced reputation sometimes precedes [her],” she said. “My mom was also concerned about what I’m going to do for college interviews.” Though Stemmer is not yet sure how to balance her fashion interests with societal opinions, she does know that for as long as possible, she’ll leave it colored. “It’s who I am,” she said.
The Buzz of a Reminder Because of her hairstyle, first impressions of senior Claire Adams are at times a far stretch from the truth. However, over time, classmates “find out that I’m pretty normal and nice,” Adams said. Adams’s hairstyle was not decided upon by whim. Rather, it holds symbolic value for her. Her decision to shave nearly half of her head was made on the same day that she took her last SAT II. “The move was both a celebration of me [taking the last SAT II] and a bit of a rebellious act to remind myself that I am still the one in charge of all the final decisions regarding my life,” Adams said. In this way, her hairstyle serves as a constant reminder to herself of who she is. Family and friends of Adams have always been supportive of her new look, and Adams has often been told that “it looked good,” she said. “Only one adult has ever told me that it was ‘uncharacteristic.’” Regardless of the opinions of others, Adams firmly stands by her initial decision and is even considering cutting all of her hair to match that length. In regard to the potential drawbacks of her haircut, Adams hopes that any future institution that she aims to become a part of won’t base its opinions of her on her haircut. Fortunately, this does not seem to be a major dilemma. “I had this haircut when I interviewed for the college that I’m going to attend next year, so that worked out well,” Adams said.
Rapunzel’s Gift and Curse A rope is not necessary to play limbo when senior Hema Lochan is around—her hair is a reasonable substitute. When asked for a potential icebreaker during her Big Sib interview, Lochan stepped away from generic name memorization games and instead “suggested that they play limbo with my hair,” she said. “It’s really long, so someone just takes an end of it, and the other person goes under it.” Except for trimming off a small chunk of hair as a donation last year, Lochan has never had an actual haircut. Though the idea of letting her hair grow out was initially her parents’, Lochan grew to love her hair despite the minor problems that it causes. Most prominent among these problems is its interference with her running. As a cross country runner, Lochan finds her hair to be dead weight, especially on rainy days when “my hair [weighs] me down [and slaps] people around me,” Lochan said. Fragile objects also tend to meet their demise when Lochan turns her head too sharply and whips them with her lengthy locks. Though Lochan knows that cutting her hair may prove to be beneficial, her love for the individuality that it gives her overrules any true consideration of shortening it. Lochan said, “It’s a gift and a curse, and I love it.”