Letter from the editor: Struggles of an artificial redhead

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Meghna Kulkarni

The Sidekick executive editor-in-chief Angelina Liu has continuously dyed her hair red for the past year. Liu writes about how the color contributes to her new outlook on life.

Angelina Liu, Executive editor-in-chief

The pungent smell of dye wafts to my nose in the slightly humid, locked guest bathroom. Red color is deposited across my forehead, on my arms and the back of my neck. 

I stretch my arms and neck out, relaxing them from the crooked position. I begin again, carefully using the hair coloring brush to paint the creamy hue over my dry and faded locks. 

Nearly two hours later, I have achieved red hair. Although it doesn’t appeal much to my parents and (some) strangers I’ve met, I have continued to dye my hair variations of the color red for the past year. 

In a very cliche way, I started dying my hair to represent the beginning of a new chapter of life. I have always been incredibly vigilant of others’ impressions of me. As awful as that may sound, it’s the truth. The thought of being an embarrassment, being too much to handle or simply not enough for others plagues me constantly. Obviously, I am a people pleaser.

I write letters and poems to myself in moments of sadness. After I finish putting my thoughts on paper, I fold it and put it inside a black box meant for jewelry, never to be seen or read again. 

Last year, out of boredom I decided to open the box and read what I wrote. Although initially I physically cringed because of how, for lack of a better word, cringe the contents of the box were, I learned something about myself. 

I care too much about other people’s perception of me. 

I started to question why I ever felt the need to please other people to that extent. Why did I bend over backwards for people who clearly didn’t think twice about me? Why did I continually seek friendship from people who simply aren’t good friends? I felt embarrassed for myself.

Ever since, I have started to care less. Of course, this mindset does not apply to every avenue of my life, but simply freeing myself from the shackles of caring too much about things that won’t affect me down the road has been the most liberating experience. 

I don’t care if you don’t like me. I don’t care if you think that I talk too much, I’m too loud or too annoying. I don’t care if you dislike the way I dress or do my hair. I am allowed to express myself in ways that are meaningful to me. 

After compiling my Keracolor Clenditioner Hair Dye Semi Permanent Hair Color Depositing Conditioner and John Frieda’s Red Boosting Shampoo and putting on a pair of latex blue gloves, I was finally ready to wash my hair.

For the next hour or so, I battle with the adjustable sinkhead to wash my hair with the coldest water possible. I squeeze a dollop of the red shampoo into my hands and lather it onto my head. Next, I pump the conditioner and massage it into my roots. I let these products sit in my hair for 15 minutes, scrolling through social media as I sit hunched over on the counter. Finally, after nearly an hour, I wrap my hair in a towel, stained with pinkish-red streaks. 

A red stain on the bathroom countertop, my stained pillows and sheets, faint markings of dye on the walls that I frantically try to wipe off show where I’ve been in the house.

Despite the constant battle with upkeep, my red hair serves as a reminder that although there will be days that are more difficult than others, I am enough for myself. 

Follow Angelina (@angelinaliiu) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter