Only two weeks after calling a dorm room home for the first time, I thought about everything I had wanted to do but didn’t do while I was living with my mom. Tattoos and facial piercings, among other things, made the cut. I had been waiting for the right moment, though, to take my hair from a platinum blonde to an electric purple hair color, so upon finally tasting the sweetness of freedom, I asked my roommate to help me dye my hair.
After a few hours of uncomfortable neck positions, rinsing and blow-drying, I finally had hair to match my colorful personality. I felt like a rockstar, and my roommate was more than proud of her hair dying abilities.
Of course, people stared at me. I stood out. Not everybody dyes their hair purple. Some asked me “Why?” while others wished they could “pull it off” like me. Although my friends and I thought the color fit me well, I quickly learned it wasn’t easy having purple hair.
I ended up receiving some unexpected backlash, much more than the occasional eye roll. Here are a few of the more unexpected consequences of dying your hair.
1. I lost my job.
My job at Panera Bread came to a screeching halt when I returned back to work during Christmas break. I essentially blindsided my managers. Although sandwich making wasn’t glamorous, nor was I the queen of ladling soups into cups and bowls, because of my hair I wasn’t given much of a choice when it came to keeping my job.
At first, my manager made me shove all my hair into my hat, so not a single strand was in sight. This worked for about a week. Then, a supervisor saw my purple hair while I was scooping salad toppings, and my manager gave me an ultimatum: “Dye your hair, or don’t come back.”
Choosing between Panera Bread and purple hair was easy. In that very moment, I walked my edgy ass to the door and waved goodbye to my bread bowl making co-workers.
2. I dyed more than just my hair.
I woke up one morning to find my white pillow dyed purple. I leaned my head against the wall while typing a paper, only to find my head had dyed the wall (not kidding one bit).
I dyed flannels, my roommate’s flannels and my favorite hat. I was lying on my friend’s bed and somehow dyed her stuffed panda bear. If hair stuck to my face for too long, it dyed that too. The back of my neck, cheeks and chin have all been purple. Showering became a struggle, dying the curtains purple, and sometimes even dying my feet purple as water collected near them.
I got really good at accidentally marking my territory. Basically, I became a walking purple marker. It was an interesting talent, to say the least.
3. It faded quickly.
Just like my confidence during finals week, the color faded fast.
One minute, I’m dying everything; the next, I can barely tell I even dyed it at all. Washing my hair was a challenge because I wanted it to be bright forever. I soon came to realize that wasn’t going to happen, but I did everything I could to keep the color from fading.
I showered in cold water, dry shampoo became my new best friend and I pulled my hair up when it was looking rough, to avoid washing it. But still, the inevitable happened, and I found myself dying it almost every two weeks. And truthfully, nothing compares to the first day you dye it. Nothing.
4. The dye was expensive.
With the length and thickness of my hair, I needed two containers of dye to cover everything. I used Manic Panic’s Purple Haze, averaging around $20 per dye job. As a college student, I know what it’s like relying on microwave ramen to get by.
I ate cereal out of plastic solo cups when I didn’t have bowls. Sometimes I borrowed milk from my roommate and coffee creamer from my dorm neighbor, who barely spoke with me otherwise. Work-study money only went so far, I had to spend it wisely.
When it came down to buying hair dye or food, I remembered: a girl’s gotta eat. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices, even if they’re really cool and colorful.
5. Eat’n Park became a breeding ground for purple hair haters.
Oddly specific, yet incredibly true. It was always the same Eat’n Park, it was always an older gentleman who expressed his distaste and it was always uncomfortable. One time I sat down, and noticed this man pointing at his head. He mouthed the words “purple hair,” and then gave his wife the look. You know, the one where he acts like purple hair is the worst thing that could have ever happened to me.
I was frustrated, so I yelled “Yeah, dude, it’s purple! So what?!” He didn’t bother to look my way again, but walking past his booth to get to the salad bar seemed like an awkward, endless journey. Although Eat’n Park has always been one of my favorite restaurants, it quickly became associated with the phrase “Who’s going to hate my hair today?” Totally didn’t see that coming.
With purple hair, I expected to be stared at. Like celebrities and their paparazzi pictures, it was “all part of the job.” What took me by surprise was losing my actual job, ruining my clothes and spending way too much money on something that wasn’t good food.
Although the color was difficult to keep, I managed to rock the hair for almost an entire year. It became a part of my identity on campus, like a signature, as well as an accessory. People knew me by my hair, and I loved that. So, it wasn’t always easy, but I took a risk and did something different. It was exactly what I wanted.
Come summer, I let the purple gradually fade back to a natural dirty blonde, and I got myself a new job before returning back to school. Upon moving into a different dorm room with a different roommate, I again found myself craving different hair. Only this time, I dyed it green, but that’s a different story.