Life with an Alternative Style

“Last question, are you willing to change your hair to a natural color?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“Then, I’m afraid I cannot offer you this job.”

I experienced this question at a job interview for a sales associate position at an arts and crafts store. Honestly, I was surprised. I assumed half their customers were crafty scrapbooking moms and the other half were artistic teens with colorful hair. Even when I offered to apply at an obviously understaffed casual restaurant, the manager commented that I would have to dye my hair to a normal color first. It’s not like I didn’t have previous job experiences and numerous references that would confirm the professional, punctual, hard-worker that I am. Apparently, having the ends of your hair purple cancels all of your merits out.

(Photo by Ben Waardenburg on Unsplash)

I knew from the first time I dyed my hair an eccentric color it would become an obstacle. An obstacle, combined with facial piercings and the frequently all-black outfit, would cause for quick judgment from anyone who didn’t know any better. Rebellious. Angsty. Delinquent. All of these are snap judgments people make towards those with a more liberal, or alternative, style. Stereotypes don’t appear from thin air, but not everyone who expresses themselves in this style has to conform to the stereotypes.

In my case, these couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a rule follower to an annoying degree. I maintained a near perfect GPA throughout high school. I’m working hard to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in just three years. I spend a few weeks volunteering as a camp counselor during my summers. I am a firm believer that early is on time and on time might as well be late. I just also like to have hair that’s an unnatural color. (In case you were wondering, my hair is currently green as I write this).

As confident as I am in how I choose to present myself, I still worry. When I go to apply for jobs, I wonder if I need to keep my septum piercing tucked into my nose. I worry if I should wear long sleeves to cover my arm tattoos. I wonder if I will even be considered due to my hair color.

The fact of the matter is: people will judge you no matter what. Be it your hair color, skin color, outfit, tattoos, occupation, piercings, etc. Nothing is off the table when it comes to what people will pick on you for. If I let everyone’s judgments dictate how I lived my life, I most certainly wouldn’t have had colorful hair for the better part of the past five years. But it’s no one else’s business. I dye my hair for my own amusement. I pierce my body because I think it looks cool. I ink my skin to form lasting impressions. Other people’s judgments shouldn’t control the way you choose to express yourself. Individuality is attractive; it’s what makes you uniquely you. Don’t let anyone get in the way of that.

(Thumbnail by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)