How I changed my hair color and ended up finding my individuality
When I was little, I would look through different magazines and see ads filled with women with a rainbow of shades in their hair.
I would point those pictures out to my mom, begging her to let me get my hair colored. But my mom felt that I did not need to color my hair because I look better natural anyway.
She was right, my natural hair did help define who I was, but I wanted to go deeper and truly see where my style and creativity could take me. I wanted tattoos, piercings, colored contacts. But, I couldn’t wear certain outfits like babydoll tops or jean skirts because my body advanced faster than my age did. My mom and grandmother thought cute outfits would lead to too much unwanted male attention.
I grew out of yearning for colored contacts because I look tacky as hell with them in. My very religious Haitian grandmother (who I love to death) would tell me it is against the bible to get a tattoo, so I am holding off on getting one, but I’m still thinking about it though. I even did an EIGHT. SLIDE. POWERPOINT. on why I should get a nose ring at 16 but alas, my mom was still against it and still to this DAY threatens to kill me if I get one.
My mom and my grandma were (and still are!) trying to protect me from the dangers of the outside world and they did not want a negative perception to be placed upon me. I tremendously appreciate and love them for that, but I still wanted to express my style in my own way. I was going crazy trying to find ways to express my individuality. Finally, after years of begging and pleading, during my sophomore year of high school my mom folded and I got to color my hair cherry-cola red!!!
That wasn’t enough, though. I finally got a taste of the hair color change and I was thirsty for more. After the red faded away, I wanted to put more colors in my hair. My mom loves me to death, but she had her limits. She was not going to let me damage my long curly hair because I wanted to color my hair bright pink on a whim (btw, kudos to my mom for that :)).
It wasn’t until one long night of mindless internet searching I ended up on Pinterest and saw different colored braid styles black girls had. It was inspiring. I felt like I was having a Jimmy Neutron brain blast. Seeing different hues of blue, red, purple, orange, and even BLONDE, I knew that I found my loophole.
I knew I had to wait until my freshman year of college to try out these new braid styles. I couldn’t walk downstairs in my mom’s house and say SURPRISE!! Do you like my green box braids?? That probably would’ve sent her to an early grave tbh.
I dropped hints here and there, preparing her for my new hair debut, and then one afternoon I did it. I WENT GRAY!!!!
It felt like I was a phoenix reborn. Old, never-took-a-risk, scared Gabrielle was a thing of the past while a new, bad-ass Gabby took her place. I sent a picture to my mom, enthusiastic about the possibility of her liking it. Instead, she said I looked like a little ol’ grannie and gray did not flatter my skin-tone whatsoever. I was crushed of course but looking back, I should’ve expected this outcome.
My mom was raised and rooted in the Haitian-Catholic values of not changing one’s body and embracing what god had gave them. Also she has a conservative type of style and she has never seen me do anything drastic to my hair before.
My grandparents migrated from Haiti so my mom grew up in a predominately Haitian lifestyle. My grandmother is very Catholic, so my mom was never allowed to even THINK about piercings or tattoos or changing one’s hairstyle in an eccentric way. In the Bible, Leviticus 19:28 and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 mentions being against tattoos and body modification. So, it did not come as a shock to me to know that my mom had no inkling for some ink.
The only drastic change my mom was allowed to do was straighten her hair for special occasions. The thing is though, my mom was (and still very much is!!) a natural beauty, so she did not see nor did she feel the need to change her look to express herself.
(Look how GAWGEOUS my mom was at my age!!)
When I started to hit those wonderful, magical years of puberty (sarcasm), my mom was not rocking with my whole “it’s not a phase mom!! It’s my life!” phase. Y’all know what phase I am talking about. The one where you want to cut your hair short and dye it pink just because you think it will make you “cool” or “edgy.” She wanted me to grow up loving god, loving the bible, and loving myself like in verses 1 Peter 3:3-4. Which is not always a bad thing but when you are trying to find a way to express who you are, it is hard to also follow the word of the lord and the word of your heart.
I recently did a blonde crochet hair look and I L-O-V-E-D it so much. It took a lot within me to do it because I was afraid a lot of people would criticize my hair color choice. It is okay though, in the end (after a lot of convincing) my mom ended up loving my hair!
However, some of my other family members were a different story. They needed to become more acquainted with it, but in the end what truly matters is if I can go out and proudly wear my hair despite other people’s reservations. For my next look, I’m thinking about doing orange jumbo braids a la Teyana Taylor and I know it is going to look fly as helllllll.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what hairstyle i’m going to do because “I am not my hair, I am not my skin, I am the soul that lives within” — the gospel of India.Arie. Amen.