Down to the Root: Rebecca’s Blonde Ambition
“Hair is such an important form of self-expression for me, and it tracks big moments in my life. Hair is how I mark everything.”
A passionate hair aficionado from age thirteen, Becky has used her hair as a vehicle for self-expression for nearly half her life. Hair is a way for her to design and carve her identity, and shape how she is perceived by the world. She feels best when her hair looks best, and inversely, a bad hair moment leaves her feeling disconnected from herself. She shares her story with us below, as told to Prose.
Chapter 1: Like Mother Like Daughter
I have always worn my hair long. My mom used to put me in bows and headbands when I was little, adorning my hair in cute ways. When I was three years old, I had a bit of a hair trauma. My best friend cut off all of my super long hair. We had been playing with dolls and cutting their hair, which somehow led to cutting my own hair off. I don’t remember much about the event, except that my mom was devastated. It perhaps stems from that event and my mom’s dismay over the chop, but I have always been inclined toward long hair. I started getting experimental with my hair at a pretty young age. I asked for highlights for my thirteenth birthday and it was the biggest deal. I begged my mom, who repeatedly told me no. But I wore her down eventually, and got my highlights. Since then, I’ve been a serial hair experimenter.
I’ve been loyal to blonde hair for many years. My mom has naturally brown hair that she dyes blonde, which was probably my first taste of blonde. I loved how she looked, and we’re very close. It inspired me to have the same thing done to my hair. There’s something about that sunny, all-American look that has always been really appealing to me. I think once you start coloring your hair, you get a little addicted to it. You don’t really go back.
Chapter 2: Transformations Through Hair
Soon after I turned twenty-five, I decided to chop my hair. It was uncharacteristic for me, as I was really attached to my long hair. I had been so scared to cut it. To be fair, my hair isn’t extremely short now, but it’s considerably shorter than it was before, and that’s big for me. I remember the moment I made the decision. I was sitting at my desk a week after my twenty-fifth birthday, and I just thought, “I’m ready to cut it.” I think I was ready for a change. I love that I can make those changes through hair. There are so few things in life that we can control in that way, and hair is such a powerful and emotional one for me.
I’ve colored my hair dark a couple times, too — like a chocolate brown. I have blue eyes, and I always thought blue eyes and dark hair was such a nice combination, but it did not look good on me. I felt like it made me blend in way too much and no longer stand out or look unique. I look back with confusion about why I did that, because I love my blonde color. I feel my best as a blonde. I know that now, but it took some experimentation and some regretful decisions to get there.
I didn’t think turning twenty-five had impacted me until I connected the dots from my birthday to my hair transformation. The events are too close together to be a coincidence. I really love marking milestones in my life through changes to my hair. It’s my way of marking the ones of significance. Hair is how I mark everything. It tracks big moments in my life.
Chapter 3: Heritage Above Hair
Even though my hair is blonde, which is atypical for Jewish women, I still feel that I look Jewish and represent my culture physically. I don’t think my hair takes away from that at all. I also feel very Jewish culturally and ethnically. So even if my hair doesn’t immediately reflect that part of me, I feel it strongly on the inside.
My Jewish heritage is extremely important to me. I grew up in New York, so my family is here, and we’re very tight-knit. I have dinner with my parents every Sunday night. We talk about our weeks and what’s going on in our lives. It’s a very special tradition for us. We celebrate Jewish holidays together and we’re big on eating. Food is big in my family. Those are my Jewish traditions that I hold dear.
Chapter 4: My Forever Hair
There is such a strong connection between hair and expression for me. I love how hair can be easily changed without too much risk or permanence. And my hair has a significant impact on my mood. I feel most confident when I like how my hair looks. When my hair doesn’t look good, I don’t feel like myself. I really don’t. Hair says so much about who you are and what you’re feeling. And you don’t have to subscribe to what you were born with and I love that.
After trying so many different cuts, colors, succumbing to pressures, resisting pressures, I finally feel that I have found my forever hairstyle. I’m just so happy with my hair today. On most days, I absolutely love it. Sure, there are times when I’ll see someone with long hair and get that craving for long hair again, but I’m content with my hair overall. I’m happy with the color, I’m happy with the cut, and I feel like me. I feel like I’ve found my hairstyle for the rest of my life.
More about our Down to the Root series:
Hair is a large part of our identity. No matter if you wear your hair long, short, straight, curly, loc’ed, natural, or have none at all.
Our relationship with our hair has ups and downs, triumphs and struggles, all of which are reflected in who we are today.
Hair is often a direct link to our heritage, passed down from generation to generation and worn as a crown on our head. Or, is it a cross to bear?
In the first edition of our Down to the Root series, we share intimate stories of acceptance, personal history, and coming of age from real people. While each is truly unique, the common thread is the emotional impact that culture, both here and abroad, has had on their hair story.