I Went Blonde As A Trauma Response—Here’s How I Finally Broke Free

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My life-altering blonde to brunette makeover started lots of moons ago, with the total opposite transformation. When I got lice in sixth grade, my Mexican mother stated she knew the greatest way to remedy it and bleached my brown hair blonde. This was the 1st of numerous transformations to come: I’d dye, style, and suppress my all-natural brunette mane for decades, evolving into a perpetual beach waved blonde, total with extensions to cement the aesthetic. 

Right after the lice, puberty hit. I’d grown quite a few inches in every single path, and at 11 years old, grown guys whistled when I walked by. With that, I completely fabricated my identity as a “busty blonde,” bearing the assignment like armor. I believed if I beat the stereotype to the punch, I could subvert and shield it. The irrational ideology intensified when I was sexually assaulted by a group of buddies as a teen, a memory I buried till college when I started to expertise symptoms of PTSD. And even though I did commence therapy, I became blonder, too—adding highlights with every repressed memory. Possibly I aspired to be Barbie: a blonde however lifeless physique that couldn’t perceive.

When I turned 30, even so, one thing changed. I no longer relished my prowess at Princess Peach cosplay and awoke with an undying urge to return to my brown roots. When this choice seemingly came out of nowhere—genuinely shocking buddies and family—this accurately depicted my internal state. I had just grow to be a beauty writer, and so I was continuously thinking of aesthetics and hair, and how small (or considerably) which means they had. It turns out issues only matter as considerably as you let them, and that went for my hair’s assigned significance, as well. With this clarity, I knew: It was time to let go.

blonde to brunette makeover

Courtesy of Danielle Sinay.

An abrupt wish to transform one’s hair is popular for survivors. “The act of altering one’s hair just after experiencing trauma is one particular way we pick out to take our energy back,” Amira Johnson, LMSW, a therapist at Berman Psychotherapy, tells me. “Although the act might not be conscious and seem to be comparatively impulsive when it occurs, there is a aspect of us that is advocating for the energy of self to be place back into our hands.”

Think about the popular trope of cutting or dyeing your hair just after a breakup, or how I chopped my lengthy and luscious hair into an ear-length bob just after getting assaulted in ninth grade. “Changing hairstyles could represent getting into a new era or chapter in someone’s life,” Kara Lissy, LCSW, clinical director and psychotherapist at A Superior Spot Therapy, explains. “The shedding of our dead ends, which have traveled with us via lots of complicated months or years, is a representation of beginning more than with significantly less weight on our shoulders.”

“What do you imply? Your brand is blonde!”

Hair transformations can signify inner healing and shifting from one particular state of getting to a different, adds Johnson—and I was absolutely shifting. In 2021, I endured one thing reminiscent of what occurred in my teens, as effectively as unexpected pregnancy loss. In spite of this, atop the mental impacts of lockdown, I managed to graduate with my Master’s from Columbia, and even began operating just after a lifetime of considering I couldn’t. Returning to my darker roots felt like the all-natural subsequent step (or leap) in my lengthy series of transformations-in-spite-of-the-odds.

blonde to brunette before after

Courtesy of Danielle Sinay.

I texted my trusted colorist, Jaclyn Curti, and stylist, Marc Mena. “I want to undergo a hair transformation,” I started. “I’m going to… darken my hair, and I sort of want a shag reduce.” Half-expecting a different exasperated response (my buddies yelled, “What do you imply? Your brand is blonde!”), I was relieved to hear that each Jaclyn and Marc have been on board and excited for my overhaul. 

Inside a week, I eagerly sat in Curti’s chair, watching as she 1st dyed my hair vibrant red—it had to be “filled in” to make positive the brown would stick— nd then add a brunette shade that most closely resembled the one particular from my childhood pictures. She added a couple of highlights about my face to brighten it up a bit, but all round, my hair reverted back to its all-natural state. Or at least what it looked like on my seventh birthday.

As with operating, I planned to tackle my transformation by means of interval instruction: Obtaining just gone brown, losing my lengthy length simultaneously would merely be as well considerably. Physically positive, but mostly emotionally. So when I saw Marc, we decided to set up a new, darker set of Excellent Lengths extensions, which he’d then layer into a pretty light shag. This would permit me to sustain the length even though nevertheless counting as a key transform (in my thoughts, at least), enabling me to ease my way into wearing all-natural hair inside a couple of months. Slow and steady wins the race.

blonde to brunette before after

Courtesy of Danielle Sinay.

Sitting in Marc’s chair, my new hair—and self—manifested in the mirror. I didn’t recognize my reflection, and Marc didn’t, either—a stylist and pal who’s identified me for years, even obtaining styled my hair on my wedding day. “Who are you?” Marc asked, half in jest as he brushed my freshly chopped strands. “You are not the very same particular person who walked in right here this morning.” With each other, we laughed, repeatedly inquiring who this new lady was. Good friends who saw my images echoed the sentiment: I was a person else totally. I was no cost.

blonde to brunette after

Courtesy of Danielle Sinay.

But, like my colour, it is not that I’m a “new” particular person. This is the most I’ve felt like myself due to the fact I can recall, but no one particular could know that to be the case: I’d kept myself secret, burying and bleaching what felt as well painful to bear, donning blonde locks like camouflage. But as they washed away, so did the shame. And so, nowadays, I’m pleased to reintroduce myself and befriend my unfiltered reflection. Roots and all.

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