[CREATIVE NONFICTION] Dyeing Identities
Blonde Taylor is born in high school. She is straight, dates a lot of boys, and feels lonely. Addicted to being The Hot Blonde, she bleaches her hair every time her dark brown roots try to show themselves.
Blonde Taylor responds to “hiya sexy” with a forced smile and a giggle and she is really good at saying yes when what she means is no. She works at a Hooters restaurant and has mastered the art of figuring out what to say, how to say it, and exactly when to touch an arm in order to get the biggest tip. She’s saving up for school–something she uses to justify the tiny orange shorts. Her hard work pays off but Blonde Taylor will live on through college. She goes to parties and drinks just enough to bring a boy back to her dorm room most nights. Her one year at college will end with UNDECLARED left in the box marked CHOSEN MAJOR.
With her services no longer needed, Blonde Taylor’s death occurs following her departure from college–replaced with Black Hair + Bangs Taylor. She moves to Brooklyn to become an author, deciding that the traditional education system just wasn’t for her–too “mainstream”–and wants to look the part. Black Hair + Bangs loves to rant about feminism and inequality to anyone with ears, and is not only convinced that she knows everything there is to know about the topics, she also secretly thinks she’s better than you.
She goes on countless Tinder dates trying to find people who she can be Herself around, even though Herself seems to be more like an idea rather than something tangible. A man falls in love with Black Hair + Bangs Taylor and she thinks she feels the same until Fluorescent Red Taylor must end both Black Hair + Bangs and the relationship because Fluorescent Red has realized that she’s gay.
She breaks it off on a Tuesday and uses the first line that comes to mind: “I think I’m just scared of commitment.” He looks down at her arms littered with tattoos, skeptical of her reasoning. Fluorescent Red feels free.
She comes out to her family and is momentarily relieved, convinced this is it. Like the shoe that so perfectly fit Cinderella, Fluorescent Red was her glass slipper. But she is disappointed and surprised to find a lack of comfort in her Lesbian/Fluorescent Red identity. Determined to have finally found Herself she decides that maintaining brightly colored hair plus a hateful disdain for men would slowly but surely prove herself “completely gay, like so gay that I won’t even look at a dude,” and thus worthy of her Fluorescent Red locks. But keeping Fluorescent Red “fluorescent” was exhausting to maintain and never quite worth all the effort.
Dark Red, Almost Purple in The Right Light Taylor is a toned-down version of her predecessor. She is relearning everything she knows about relationships, love, and friendships. She stops to breathe more and is starting to feel like she has less and less to prove. Relationships come and go and she is slowly coming to terms with the idea that identity is not something that is permanent or one-dimensional, but instead, ever-evolving.
This weekend she has plans with a group of friends that have all sorts of hair and all sorts of stories to tell. They listen to her stories, too. She has been itching for a change, but this time she craves a blank slate. She stops at the corner store on her way home from the new job that has her excited about the future for the first time in a long time. Entering the familiar aisle marked “At Home Hair Color” she passes “Ravishing Ruby,” “Lusty Lavender,” and “Stunning Silver,” uninspired.
She goes home with a bottle of wine and a pair of scissors.
Taylor Fogarty is an early-twenty-something woman living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a freelance writer, nanny, and musician. As a queer woman, she writes about what it means to be comfortable in her own skin as she continues to learn what that means.