Adventures of a Different Shade

2 Jul

I’m now taking the liberty to post a non-Peace Corps related adventure update in my blog since my URL is conveniently vague.

I am now a … brunette.

It’s been a little less than a month since my big change, and honestly, I think I’ve launched myself into a deep state of denial about what is proving to be more than simply a dye-job.  Remember those magnetized prank moustaches you could buy to stick on TVs or mirrors?  I have a mental one…of my blonde hair.  Miraculously, every time I look in a mirror my mind glosses over the dark honey brown and transplants a golden halo of comforting blonde hair in its place, causing my on-going delusion about my gloriously healthy relationship with and astounding ability to handle change.

There’s a way of presenting yourself to other people when you’re blonde…and female.  My self confidence has never been very high, so I always felt like I had to fake this blonde attitude that, to me, appeared to be a natural quality of every other person with the shade.  Though the idea of “fake it ’til you make it” works for some, I never got over the feeling of being an impostor.  I was a self-conscious blonde.  Emphasis on the self-conscious.  The residual awkward, shoe-gazing middle schooler left in me convinced me that though I was constantly being noticed just for my hair color, people who looked at me instantly saw my insecurities like a huge birthmark across the span of my face and would turn away in disappointment.  Confidence seems to be a requirement of the blonde identity.  Sorry, you must be this confident to highlight your hair.

Years of “faking it” have made this transition a nightmare.  Now, rather than being an insecure blonde, I am a vain brunette.  Joy.  It’s all due to my apparent propensity for mirror magnets.  I still think I’m blonde.  Not only think, but act, walk, primp, smile, talk, and interact as if I’m blonde.  You see, blondes are given a get-out-of-jail-free card on appearing prissy on the street.  They’re expected come off this way.  So, prissy nose in the air, I walk to work in the morning doubtlessly causing some unwarranted thoughts about my feelings of self-worth.  Walking down the street, I feel a compulsion to tell everyone that I recently dyed my hair.  “I’ll change my mannerisms, I promise, I just don’t know how to be a brunette yet!” Priceless.

I was overcome by sheer horror for my strict adherence to the socially accepted identity of “a blonde” when I stopped in a building to ask for directions to a particular office and lead into my question with, “This is so stupid of me, but…” When I was blonde, this is what people wanted to hear.  Start with that phrase after they notice your blonde head, and the person being questioned automatically likes you.  I always felt the need to fill this stereotype for people, as if it was equivalent to being polite.  Stereotypes are comfortable and I’m a shameless accomodator.

But how does that phrase go over as a brunette, you might ask…Not well, not well at all.  Suddenly, instead of being expected to lack common sense and filling this expectation to a response of pleasure and acceptance, I had failed the test.  This woman expected me to have a brain, a thing rarely expected of me as a blonde.  Even college professors frequently walked into classrooms on the first day of a semester with the thought “annnd riiiiiight…there!…there’s the class ditz” emblazoned across their foreheads.  Well, I had failed the test and the secretary’s face was as clear as a cue card.

Maybe by the next time I get a touch-up (which will be my second), I’ll actually see brown hair when my hairdresser turns the chair around.

Here’s a picture of my brown (wait, I think I mean blonde...) hair:

my new brown hair

Finally, on a completely unrelated subject, here is the problem I’m tackling in Ukrainian currently;  “Я не говорю добре українською” is an essential phrase that means “I don’t speak Ukrainian well.”  It’s pretty much a subtle, polite beg for help.  What a shame I seem entirely incapable of smoothly saying “говорю,” or “speak.”  Ironic?


3 Responses to “Adventures of a Different Shade”

  1. Anna 2 July, 2009 at 17:32 #

    there is a very similar phrase I had to learn in Czech while living in Prague:

    “Jak se řekne ______ ?”
    which means
    “How do you say ______ ?”

    &, of course, the ‘r’ with the ‘háček’ or ‘hook’ [ˇ] is the hardest consonant for foreigners to learn to say correctly. perfect, no?

  2. Tara 2 July, 2009 at 19:04 #

    First, I’m proud to be blonde. Believe me, if you’re smart, people know it after about 30 seconds. I never thought of you as the stupid blonde, you just didn’t come off that way. Maybe it’s a secret of the blonde sisterhood that we have some sort of radar for the smart ones!

    Second, obviously Ukrainian is a Slavic language. I took Russian in college, which was a scary number of years ago. I was shocked that I could still read it, especially after your troubling phrase. I always pronounced it “gav-a-roo” with the “a” sounding that the first “a” in java.

  3. Kati 23 July, 2009 at 23:10 #

    This was a fun read! It’s interesting how things like hair color “color” people’s expectations of us. I’m probably lucky to be a redhead. There’s less of us, and whatever we do, it can be attributed to “some quirky redhead thing.” Perhaps you can make that your next hair adventure (post-Peace Corps)and make a full report! Whatever color your hair is, you look great anyway. :)

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