Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
"You want to dye your head WHAT?" she screeched. I glanced around the tiled kitchen floor and shuffled nervously, avoiding my mother's incredulous stare, but I was resolute. I took a deep breath to calm my fluttering nerves and tried one more time. "Teal." This decision wasn't arbitrary. I had done months of intense research, carrying several reference pictures with me to my hairdresser after practically interrogating her and countless others about the procedure, aftercare, and upkeep. The process itself was an ordeal; bleaching my jet-black hair to a platinum blonde took several stinging attempts, and the teal dye used afterward managed to get itself all over my clothes and skin. But, somehow, after hours of persuasion and scalp pain, it was done.
As soon as I walked out of the salon, though, I received looks of ridicule and sneering from passing strangers, the first showings of mockery that I soon learned to endure alongside jeers like: “When did you fall into a pit of radioactive goo?” “Who forgot to clean up their crayon box?” and (my personal favorite) "Green Lantern's in the house!" I was a bit unnerved; I had expected absolute, fawning adoration for my rebellious antics. But after a while I learned to take it all in stride, laughing along with them or firing back my own retorts. Some of the taunting even improved my mood and self-confidence. No longer did I shrink back from assaulting stares or accusing fingers. My hair was shield, gauntlet, and sword all at once. In time the compliments came too, brightening the days I was caught without an umbrella and the rain would begin to wash the vivid blues out of my hair.
As a target of nearly constant needling and scorn, I started to grasp how much appearances affect our perceptions of others. I'm not as quick now to smirk at a stranger's poor outfit choices or gawk at a bad haircut. I began to question the unnecessary yet routine criticism of daily life that I was previously blind to. Why make a day harder than it needed to be? I found no point in making others' even more burdensome. I made it my goal to give at least three genuine compliments a day, beginning with my immediate family and eventually reaching out to other students. Before I realized it, this fight soon crept into every part of my life: I found myself defending strangers in the mall when my friends would poke fun at their looks, arguing in theology classes that what a women wears should not determine how she is treated or if she warranted harassment, and writing public presentations and papers on how mass media and social expectations can crush the self-esteem of countless girls and women around the nation.
Although my hair might be a tiny bit damaged from one (or several) rounds of harsh bleaching, I don't regret dyeing it at all. That summer, the quiet, well-mannered, courteous girl I was transformed into the self-confident character I still am today, whether my hair decides to show it or not.
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