Some people say that what you look like on the outside doesn't matter at all. Some people say that changing your appearance can change who are. I believe both.
How you present yourself can be a reflection of what is going on with you inside, knowingly or not. It's not always, of course. I'm making wide generalizations here. Often this can't be helped. When I was a new mom, I'm sure I looked like a walking mess most of the time. I was sleep deprived and hormonal and I looked it.
When I got my first job, I was as confused and lost as I've ever been in my life, but my wardrobe didn't show it. I put myself together the way I thought a working woman should, and I did well professionally. It wasn't because I was dressed well. But dressing the part gave me the credibility to act the part.
It's often said that in order for real change to come about, that you must start with your insides. But what if you don't have the strength to start there? What if you don't have the wherewithal just yet? I argue that the reverse can also be truth. If you don't know where else, start with the outside.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was nursing a terrible heartbreak. A year later, I was doing well at a great job, in a new city, with friends and a future. I wanted my outside to reflect my inside. I had changed radically in my soul, so I wanted to change radically in my appearance. I dyed my longtime blond hair an inky black. It was, in a sense, the outward birth of a new me.
It looked terrible. Looking back, it was just awful with my skin and my wardrobe. My roots grew in light, which looked even weirder. But in pictures, I look happy. I look free. I look like a person who has found herself.
Common sense prevailed and over time I turned it back to brown and then eventually blond again. But I love that girl with black hair. I love who she was and what she represents.
Last year, at 32 years old, I dip dyed the tips of my blond hair pink. I had recently become the mother of two. I had landed my first few writing gigs. I was feeling more confident in my style and life choices than ever before. And dadgummit, I wanted pink hair.
I thought about it for two months before I took the plunge. I talked to my hair stylist numerous times about exactly how I wanted it to look. When it was finally pink, I was giddy about it.
It seems silly — because, hello, pink — but it really felt like me. It felt like who I was right then, coming through my hair.
I kept the pink in my hair for the better part of a year, and when it faded in the fall I didn't rush to the salon. It wasn't that I didn't feel pink anymore, it was just that time got away from me.
Last month, after mulling it for awhile, I dyed my hair ombre, a pretty brown fading to blond. It's trendy, like the pink, but it requires less upkeep and it brings out the color of my eyes.
I haven't ruled out going back to the pink. Heck, I haven't even ruled out going back to black. Changing my appearance in this way marks seasons of life. It's also an empowerment. A statement to myself and others. People do the same with clothes, dramatic haircuts, especially with body art.
Your outward appearance doesn't always reflect who you are on the inside, but it can. It's the quickest way to tell the world — and yes, yourself — who you are at this moment.