Blonde Ambition

one woman's tale of going into the light

Orange Coast January 2001

written by Joli Selton photography by James Moss

It starts to itch after a while. Of course, under those heat lamps eveything’s a bit uncomfortable. But as soon as the timer stops and the buzzer sounds, angels appear and offer the path to heaven. The relaxing feeling of cool, running water mixes with sweet smells and suddenly the burning sensation on the eyes begins to subside. What a relief. This is a process I have become quite familiar with in the last two months as I attempted to alter Mother Nature’s color theory. I went from having long, chocolate-colored locks to short, spunky, platinum hair and now, after many critiques, I both love and hate it. I just felt like it was something I had to do. Everything around me was about to change – from where I worked to where I was living – and cal it women’s intuition, but I could feel it all coming. Instead of fearing the unknown, I decided to embrace and welcome it by beginning a metamorphosis of my physical appearance.

I used to be compared to Punky Brewster, and though I happen to like the actress who portrayed her, Soleil Moon Frye, I didn’t want to feel a funky youngster while dealing with my very adult life. dyeing my hair seemed to be an easy change that would undoubtedly transform the way I was viewed by the world, and the way I viewed myself in it.

I all started with a spontaneous proposition by my friend, Jackie. “Let’s bleach your hair today,: she offered, not knowing what she was setting in motion. we stared at each other, and ran to the discount drug store near her La Palma home. After careful consideration. and in-depth inspection of the photos on the long lines of boxes, my amateur hairdresser friend and I put our faith in a product and scurried home to do the do. She covered my shoulders with an old towel and began mixing and shaking and spreading and gooping until m entire head was saturated and three-fourths of the bottles’s  contents were gone. I left her house with a clothespin holding up my once long, cocoa curls, and the fate of my hair would be revealed after a 20-minute car ride to my shower and 20 more minutes of impatient waiting by the clock.

Well, the box said,”platinum” and I got amber. So, four days later we tried again. Same store, different box and yet again, a different outcome. This time, I got canary yellow. Now, back in my teenage yeas of rebellion  and experimentation, I might have loved being called “Goldielocks” or” Tweety Bird.” But at the age of 25, I was going more for Jean Harlow, or Deborah Harry even. It’s not that Jackie did a bad job, r that store-bought products don’t work. It’s just that really dark hair tales a few attempts before all of the color can be stripped away and the perfect white is set in place. Not a full day passed before I made an appointment with Jakies’s hairdresser, Verushka, at Salon 218 in Huntington Beach to fix the color and chop all the dead hair into  some sort of style. Dressed for the part, Verushka came to my 7:30 p.m. rescue appointment clad in glitter and a flowing pink dress, just like Glinda the Good Witch, to make my dreams of being blonde finally come true. She consulted, poked, flipped and flopped until she and Pedro, an in-house color expert, decided on the proper procedure. 

After two hours of ehavy-duty color lifting, the dynamic duo washed and toned my hair and then sat me in a chair in front of a mirror, where I almost died. I had done it, it was all one color (not quite white yet; that would require one more trip to the salon) and I loved it. I was in shock, but I had conquered a fear and succeeded in drastically messing with Mother Nature’s color scheme, contradicting what my mother had always told me could not be done well. But my own approcal was not the final word on the matter. Jackie met me at Salon 218 to check the color, gossip and take me out for my first night on the town as the new me. I paid the bill (let me tel you, this process isn’t cheap) walked out of the salon and my friends’s first statement had to be the cliché. “so, do you think blondes really do have more fun?: she asked. I giggled at the prospect that the  cliché might be true, when not two seconds later, a handsome young man met my eye with a devilish intent that was both suggestive and approving. Jackie and I looked at each other, and giggled all the way home.

I can honestly say that since my transformation, I haven’t had more fun that I usually do, and I don’t feel any different. I think I still look the same, until I pass my reflection and wonder for a split-second “What in the world is on my head?” But I’ve had to deal with some interesting comments from my family and friends. My dad met the new me equipped with an arsenal of blonde jokes he never hesitated to fire off at my expense. And old friend’s I’ve run into only recognize me after long, hard stares. My best friend’s 5-year-old daughter, Ashleigh, keeps telling me she likes the brown hairdo better. Each time I see her and I have the slightest bit of roots showing she asks, “How come I see black and white?” or “When are you going to put your real hair back?”

Everyone’s a critic. At a party I was told “I can see you working in Vegas with that new hair and some shiny pants.” I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but I surely walked away feeling a bit insecure about my transformation. And then there are the times to check my I.D. I always have to convince them that the picture they’re looking at really is of me. Then there’s a short conversation about which look they are more fond of, as if I asked (I’m still at a 50/50 ratio on that one.)

It’s been a very interesting and expensive few months. I’ve already had two touch-ups and I’m not sure if I’ll achieve the third. What I do know is, taking a chance and risking everything for vanity is an inspiring and humbling process, and it’s definitely been fun. I don’t regret my decision to become a blonde, but to someone else requesting advice on doing the same, I might simply say: “Buy a wig.”