As junior Sienna Seiders sat in a salon filled with middle aged women waiting for their monthly appointment to get their white roots redone, she said she had a realization: you should never resist self expression.
Seiders was at the salon to get her hair so bleached it could be white.
“I felt insecure, but then I remembered that my hair is me, and there’s nothing I can do to change myself,” Seiders said. “I was always into fashion, but it wasn’t enough for me, so I broadened my self expression by getting the blondest hair possible.”
Growing up in Palo Alto, Seiders said her family was not the typical Silicon Valley one. While her friends were inspired by Disney characters, Seiders’s source of inspiration was the grunge scene of the ‘90s like Kurt Cobain’s platinum blonde partner Courtney Love. For Seiders though, self expression was something she hid until recently.
For decades, hair styles have been an outlet for self expression, something that has tied closely with fashion and presentation towards society. But in recent years, hair color has begun to be associated with insecurity, begging the question, why?
“As humans, we’re taught to watch each other and learn from each other,” Seiders said. “People that are different become in danger of being judged.”
Because of the stereotype for hair dye to be informal, changing hair color has never gained enough popularity to become normalized, but Seiders believed with the increased frequency of seeing someone with dyed hair, it may soon reach a point of acceptance. As a hairstylist working in Silicon Valley, Marla Powers has said she has seen opinions change regarding dyed hair depending on the environment.
“I used to manage a blow dry bar, and we had this strict rule that we could not have hair color,” Powers said. “It became a big issue because one of the girls got pink hair, and the others didn’t like it.”
Powers said it wasn’t until she left the blow dry bar to work at a hair salon that she began to appreciate the uniqueness and individuality hair color can provide.
“When I started working at the hair salon is when I started learning about it more,” Powers said. “Being around people who were doing different kinds of styles, I started wanting to try different things.”
Even as people like Powers grow more accepting of dyed hair, Julia Dugan, owner of Academy of American Ballet, said stigma still surrounds it.
“Some people look at colored hair and view it as a bad thing,” Dugan said. “(In ballet), for example, we can’t dye our hair for performances, and I can see how doing that would be seen as different.”
Powers, though, said hair color shouldn’t be seen as “different,” as, by nature, people are all different in some way.
“Really, there is no normal,” Powers said. “Normality is based on where you are specifically, so you can’t worry too much about society.”