I have a bottle of Creme Developer (30 volume) and Kaleidocolors in blue (or azul, or bleu, as the package helpfully tells you) sitting in my drawer. They’ve been sitting there, patiently, until the moment of both courage and freedom comes where I can bleach my hair.
My hair is dark, “dark dark dark dark brown” as I described it when I was younger, now with a few highlights courtesy of the sun. It’s the thick Asian hair that always needs two hairbands and occasionally a straighten, that takes two hours to dry (minimum) and absolutely refuses to change drastic color. And I want to turn it blonde, platinum blonde.
Why dye hair? Why change a natural part of a body? But even with this question, we shakily to draw the fine line between what is natural and what is nurture. The hair, skin, nails, skin are all manipulated to become better persons - to each standard of their own.
I spent my summer in New York City, where the number of Asians that had hair that was not their natural color were surprising. What’s more, the number of blonde Asians were more than the number of your “chesnut” and “reddish brown” follicles. I myself have been harboring a secret desire to turn into a blonde bombshell (minus the bombshell part) for a year or two. Unnatural hair colors have been on the rise; I, for one, have seen many white and pastels dotting the moving heads of New York.
The mantra of the blonde versus the brunette has been (and is still) an on-going debate, as seen here, in the NY Times. Blondes have more fun, brunettes are the smarter ones, but blondes are the head turners except when brunettes give off that mysterious smoulder. Yet the debate has always veered on the brunette side when Asians are involved; besides the fact that being blonde, hair has to literally be destroyed, many don’t think that most Asians look good blonde. Yet I think the reasons behind trying to go blonde is more than just Westernization ideals.
Hana Mae Lee, one of the stars of Pitch Perfect (yes, the Asian), went platinum in December of 2013. “It’s always fun to deny your heritage,” her Instagram chirps, showing off platinum blonde hair. Blonde is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of hair colors for Asians; the fact alone that it’s generally so unattainable (any lightening of our hair color tends to slide towards the copper/reddish spectrum, upkeep is hard, yellow tinted hair with yellow tinted skin can sometimes clash) makes it appealing. Now that with a bottle of developer or a trip to the salon allows the blonde to be within grasp, it’s a perfectly possible goal. And it’s something different; it’s a statement to not automatically be among the herds of black, type 1A hair. But somehow, this statement is a BFD.
Does it really look that bad? One of my friends is blonde (and Taiwanese) and when we meet up, I have to strain to recognize her because she doesn’t look “Asian.” From the back, I sometimes can’t tell at all. Asians simply look a little bit less...Asian with blonde hair.The cringe worthy hair that is usually conjured up is the brassy tones that often come out when dark hair is lightened, but I have yet to see a truly awful looking Asian with a good blonde dye job. Going blonde for an Asian is the same choice that a redhead (Irish?) person may go through or a dark haired (black?) girl decides.
I haven’t yet mustered up the courage to destroy my hair (the only things that are stopping me are 1) my parents and 2) how dead my hair will be after the apocalypse of bleach), but when I finally manage to go through with what I want, I’ll still just be Jaime - and blonde.