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How Dying My Hair Red Changed My Life

While laying in bed and pondering the new year, I had an epiphany. I need a change in my life. Something new. Something bold. In the past year, I had been slowly getting out of the shell that had been covering my confidence for most of quarantine. I decided to dye my hair red. Bold red.

Now, you probably think it seems a bit premature to randomly decide to change your entire life based on what color you dye your hair. But that’s the thing I have been wanting to change for the better for a really long time, and now I can finally embrace it. Last year, I was not only berated by an ex-crush (for telling the honest truth), I lost one of my best friends. I also had to face some things that I had been avoiding, such as my mental health. This new girl was ready, dying to get out and start fresh, and I needed a little push to make it happen. Now, I’m not saying that one little change in my materialistic beauty fixed my mental health, but it sure nudged me to get better.

As I sat down in the salon chair, I couldn’t help but feel the nerves start to rush in. I mean, as much as I had wanted this, it was going to be a whole new look (Note: Change can be challenging, especially for those who struggle with their mental health so it’s okay if this isn’t something accessible for you). My hairdresser, more incredible than ever, practically held my hand and was the superhero in my newfound confidence. A year ago, I would have sat in that chair, quietly asked for a trim and left, but this year I was ready. A minor accomplishment in my latest journey was holding a conversation (with my hairdresser, who I rarely see) without overthinking that I somehow made our chat awkward. The second she turned that chair around, I could feel the light beaming in my chest. I practically ran out of the salon screaming, “I AM THE MAIN CHARACTER B*TCH.” Driving home, I started to make a mental list of all the new things that I wanted to do in order to make the new year better. The most important item being to just try

The truth is, when you have struggled for so long about who you are and what you want to be, you tend to lose what you want. For all my years of high school (and if I am being completely honest, most of my life), I have let people tell me how I want to live my life. I allowed someone to make me feel so small, and I never want to feel that way again. It’s like the red of my hair represents a fierceness that is permanently embedded in my soul and my now my hair.

I even took the step of rushing for a sorority to try and make new friends, and to finally put myself out there. I started to be more bold in tone and speak up for what is right, and not hide behind the blanket of my anxiety. I even almost joined Tinder, but I’m not quite ready for that. I even took a selfie, which sounds weird and makes me seem like I am begging for attention but hear me out. For the longest time, I believed that I was never pretty enough to be in a photo alone and that I should always have someone next to me so I could be the ghost in the back. Unfortunately, I let a man define my worth and beauty, further forcing this thought on me. That selfie was a step in the right direction for me, no matter how vain it might sound. That selfie was posted to Instagram later that night.

Every time I sit down and write, I mainly am trying to prove a point. In this case, I still am, but I want my readers to know that no matter how ridiculous I might sound right now, the baby steps make your journey of life count. Each step we take makes our journey worth it, so I encourage you to take that leap into the deep end, even if that means changing your hair color to make you realize how awesome you are. 

Zoë Howes

UC Irvine '25

Hi, my name is Zoë! I am currently a first-year journalism student at UCI and I love to write about rom-coms, my messy love life, politics, and more! Hope you enjoy! :) insta: @zoepascale_
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