On Facebook this week, my friend Elisabeth posted the following:
"Today I took my naturally blonde hair for a walk on the wild side... some strawberry highlights. Nothing crazy -- being blonde is too much fun to give up entirely!"
I sensed an issue. It was her choice of wording: Not just blonde, but *naturally* blonde. The next time I saw Elisabeth, she was wearing a hat.
"I saw your Facebook post -- the "naturally" blonde was an interesting choice of words."
"What do you mean? Yes, I'm naturally blonde."
"Do you get that a lot, people thinking you dyed your hair blonde?"
"I'm not sure what you're getting at here. A lot of people are blonde as kids, but it turns brown when they get older. Mine just never did. Well, actually, it was white blonde when I was little --it's darker than it was."
"I mean, is there a certain stigma to being blonde? Do you experience that?"
"I would have to say yes, definitely. I think some people have this certain stereotype about women who dye their hair blonde, that they're a certain type, so I guess they see me that way, too."
"Will you take off your hat? Can I see how the strawberry highlights turned out?"
"Sure, but it's mostly gone now." (It was. Clearly, she was just wearing the hat because it was very cute on her.) "When I first had it done, I walked into this convenience store and I guess the sun was shining through the window on my head, and my hair just glowed. The guy behind the counter was like, 'Hey, Goldilocks.' I just laughed. I'm used to it."
"So everywhere you go, people are talking to you about your hair?"
"Pretty much. And wanting to touch it. It's crazy."
Crazy indeed. I asked Elisabeth if she minded if I told her story as a "hairpisode" this week. She eyed me a bit warily, but said sure, no problem. I understand. It must get tiresome. Being blonde, or a redhead or a brunette or whatever should never be the final word. Elisabeth, you're an incredible pianist and musician, I'm totally in awe of your talent, not to mention in your generosity and spirit as a person. I feel blessed to know you.