Today I was thinking about appearances, and how our physical presentation tends to hold so much meaning and importance in our society. In the world at large, there is a standard for beauty, strength, mental ability, and social status that changes based on appearances. It isn’t just Human nature though, even in the animal kingdom, those that are different are often not accepted with good reason. An animal that is born either a different colour or size is often seen a threat to the safety of the group. An of example of this are Zebra which have their distinctive pattern because it causes confusion to predators when they are running in a herd, as the moving patterns make it hard to distinguish one zebra from another. If a “golden” or “albino” zebra is part of that herd, then it can easily be spotted and attacked, posing a risk for the rest of the herd.
It makes me wonder if humans carry the same fear of standing out. Is it in our own genetic structure the need to blend it lest we be attacked? What about those who chose not to blend in? Sometimes they are applauded and given congratulations for being “brave” and true to themselves like a Paralympic athlete who has achieved gold. There are other traits that are not accepted as easily, like piercings or tattoos, but even that has become so much more accepted. I guess I am thinking about this lately because I am facing my own dilemma regarding not blending in. Well, truth be told, I have never been easy to hide! As a plus size woman at 5’10”, I tower over most women and many men.
My recent musings have been around whether I should let my grey hairs win the battle over chemical color. I have had a significant amount of grey hair since age 16, and as a result of societal pressure and personal insecurity I have dyed my hair since age 18. As I approach 40, I am at a different place in my life with regards to the comfort level I feel with myself. I was surprised and saddened by the responses I received from friends in real life and online. Many of them instantly responded with fear and confusion. Why, they asked me would I do that? I would look old I was told by some, and one even mentioned that she had no life partner yet so she most certainly could not go grey yet. I just find the whole topic fascinating, especially with regards to women and how we view our grey hairs. Men who are grey are seen as wise and distinguished, and yet women call themselves old. I find it very sad that women in particular are not only hard on each other; but they are so hard on themselves.
As it turns out I was not able to remove the entire old colour from my hair, so I decided to go a different route and colour my hair purple instead. I am sure that will probably illicit further commentary about not blending in as well, and for me that is okay. I prefer to be that crazy albino zebra taking chances and living my life, rather than worrying about going along with the herd. Sometimes, you just have to embrace who you are despite what others may say. Tall, short, fat, thin, grey hair, fun coloured hair, piercings, tattoos, and so on. Remember that you have the power to transform your life in whatever way you need to, and that includes loving yourself, for you who are and how you like to look.
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