Every once in a while I come across a young girl who has colorful hair and I am taken back to my teenage years. It was the late 90’s and Gwen Stefani was my idol. She had it all–a kick ass band, rock’n’roll style, and she landed Gavin Rossdale, my rock star crush at the time. Her hair color evolved with her style and I wanted her style so badly that I tried to emulate it any way I could. I even bought a horrible pair of light blue plaid pants from Contempo Casuals that I would wear with a No Doubt t-shirt to make them seem cool.
I worked at the mall junior and senior year of high school. When I wasn’t working at the mall, I was hanging out at the mall. I was an official mall rat. Hot Topic was a fairly new store and I would go there to spend some of my hard earned minimum wage on band t-shirts and Manic Panic. My parents weren’t so opened minded to things like piercings and rainbow hair dye (yet a decade later I would come home with 2 tattoos–one that I tried to keep hidden even though I was in my 20’s). My mother refused to ever step foot inside Hot Topic and to this day I wonder if she’s ever been inside of that store. But my teenage rebellion told me to go for it anyway.
I think I first discovered my love of hair color during senior year. I was 16 and a friend of mine decided to dye her hair “golden ash blonde.” Of course that meant I just had to dye my hair blonde, too. For one reason or another, we were hanging out at a bowling alley one night. We walked to a store nearby and I purchased a box of blonde hair dye. It began. In the bowling alley bathroom, I dyed my hair. Yup, I lost my hair dye virginity in a bowling alley bathroom. It was then that I became addicted and I had to go lighter. I don’t know how it happened, but I eventually had a Gwen Stefani style “platinum blonde life.”
From there I started sneaking home Manic Panic. It started with the leftover jar of “Pink Flamingo” my friend had. I knew I could never get away with a bright pink head of hair, but somehow I thought my parents would never see the not-so-subtle hot pink streak I dyed in my short, bright blonde coif. I had a method to my madness. I would dye my hair at night before I went to bed and run out the door for school the next morning. If I was going to get caught with pink hair, at least I’d get one good day out of it. But then it became a blue streak, a green streak, a purple streak and so on. And with every color came the scolding from my parents to “take that stuff out of my hair.”
I don’t know how it all ended, but it eventually did. I don’t know if it was the Spice Girls taking over America and the platform shoes I would need to buy or just the fact that my hair began to look completely fried from bleaching it, but I stopped buying Manic Panic altogether. I still visit Hot Topic occasionally, although now it’s with my younger sisters. I feel too old to be in there for any reason other than shopping with them at the mall. I’ll wander past that rack of hair dye and colorful hair extensions (where were they senior year?!), pick one up and put it back on the shelf. I may feel too old for a hot pink head of hair, but I wouldn’t pass up a hot pink streak again. Something subtle that wouldn’t make my husband freak out about my choice of hair color (to our future daughter, I apologize that your dad is such a square).
I tried to find a picture of me from senior year with blonde hair, but I apparently got rid of the evidence.