Being yourself is not always easy and can take a great deal of courage. Simon, Venezuelan journalist living in Dublin, details his experience of overcoming fears and social obstacles in order to be more true to himself. Read about his journey below.
Hi, my name is Simon and I’m a Venezuelan journalist living in Dublin. I’m also a gay man with a lifelong fascination with Britney Spears. And two years ago I discovered that my ‘natural’ hair colour is blue.
It wasn’t always like that of course. Like most people in the world, I was born with natural dark hair, a little greasy sometimes, and wavy when long. And it wasn’t until my “tween” years (10 or 11), when I saw the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when I decided I wanted my hair to be all white like Spike’s. Once main villain/later soul mate of Buffy’s, Spike was a bloody sexy English vampire with white blonde hair, Billy Idol style. I was OBSESSED.
But little me wasn’t allowed to bleach and dye his hair. Mom said no very early on and that was that. I made it to college, in a different city and without adult supervision, but by then I wasn’t brave enough. Life and a mostly Catholic/ Latino society had made me very weary of expressing myself, I wasn’t even out of the closet.
I came out in 2010, and moved to Dublin in 2013 and my hair was still pitch black. After so many years of being “normal,” I kind of forgot about the whole white hair until one day in 2014, when talking about Buffy (as I often do) with a friend, she offered me to bleach my hair, she had done it dozens of times before and there was beer and pizza involved in the plan.
I was amazed by the opportunity. And slightly scared (very scared actually, I even told my boyfriend in a failed attempt of getting him to talk me out of it). I went up to her house and after 150 minutes of excruciating pain, my hair was a bright golden ball of hay. We used the highest developer (Level 40) but my Venezuelan hair was too dark to go white in only one session. Pains, logistics and a bruised ego made me desist of a second session and decided instead to walk out on the street as a “blonde”.
Despite my boyfriend’s assurance, I wasn’t comfortable with my new golden head, it wasn’t pretty, trust me. So a few days later I went into a pharmacy and came out with a bottle of washable hair dye. The colour was called “Washed-Up Mermaid” and the girl on the picture had a long mane of “turquoise” hair. Pink and Peach were attractive options too but they had me at Mermaid (did I say I’m very gay already?). 20 minutes after getting home my head was blue and has been so ever since. It took me maybe a couple of weeks but soon after, I realised that blue haired is who I wanted to be.
After changing my hair I became braver and more outgoing. I started to talk to people on the street more easily. I developed a stronger self-esteem not only based on my looks, but on the sense of finally achieving a childhood dream, and vanquishing my fears. The old little fears at least.
Being yourself is scary. I was afraid of my hair being damaged beyond repair. I was unsure what my mom and dad would say. I was told that employers might not take me seriously with blue hair. But I’ve never been happier. Sometimes people called me a Smurf trying to slag me, but not a day goes by without catching strangers noticing my hair with amusement, old ladies tell me how much they love my hair and little kids point their fingers with smiles and sharing their discovery with their parents.
Being yourself can also be exhausting. I have to redye my hair every two weeks if I want to keep the blue colour that I like. And every 10 weeks I have to bleach my head all over to avoid the black hair to come back. I’m careful of getting into swimming pools, I prepare my own conditioner with dye in it and I daily put on coconut milk to keep my hair healthy. But I realise now that I know a lot more about my hair and how to take care of it than before, and knowledge is power. I’m always ready to give advice to others who would like to do it and it’s a cool conversation topic.
Being yourself is a never ending process. Not only because I need to keep dying my hair, but because I don’t know when I will change my mind about it. I’m a firm believer in change, in adapting and constantly evolving. And there should be no shame in trying new things in hopes to find what will stick: joining a gym, dying your hair, volunteering for a cause you care about, trying out a new layout of your room.
Being yourself is a ride that we should all get on.