I’ve had green hair now for about three and a half years.
Before that I had most colours under the sun – apart from blonde, I could never ‘do’ blonde as I’m pale with a slightly ginger tinge, and it just makes me look ill.
To be honest I just got bored with the usual violet, red, brown, and purple dyes that I’d used for the past LOTS of years.
I. WAS. BORED.
But I was always worried what people thought of me.
Why do we worry? Honestly? People have too much going on in their own worlds.
I could go into a long psychological thesis about inner conflict, societal norms and the visual perceptions of others, but for your sake I won’t.
One day I just decided that life is too short, so I bought an aqua hair dye (we live in the sticks, the green hadn’t reached us yet). I also had a purple dye in the bathroom, so I decided to start off slowly and test the waters. I did a peacock streak type thing. A bit of purple and a bit of aqua. It was nice.
But I was still BORED.
The great thing was, apart from a few complimentary comments, the world didn’t stop, no-one stared and I didn’t shame the family (my husband is in a profession where you must not bring the profession into disrepute). All well and good.
One night, with a glass of wine I decided to just do it. Out came the aqua. My head (and bathroom) has never been the same since.
When I first went out with a shock of bluey-greeny hair I was, let’s be honest, a bit scared. We live in a small town on the edge of northern Scotland. I was in my mid 40s. I spend my time at the theatre with a huge bunch of kids.
Would people still speak to me? Would they laugh? Would they tell me to grow up and act my age?
The world still turned. A few people loved it. A few people hated it. But it made no difference whatsoever, except that when I looked in the mirror I didn’t cringe. I loved my new hair.
One reason I always resisted dying my hair an unconventional colour was a comment I’d heard a few years before I took the plunge. I can’t remember where I was, but someone was talking about professionalism, and how, in order to remain professional, you had to look the part.
Now, I’ve never really been the conventional type. I’m not ‘way out there’ – I have no tattoos (yet, but only because I’m fickle and would change my mind) and no piercings – but I do tend to just wear what I like. I’ve never been the suited professional, but I was lucky in that my academic librarian background meant I could still dress how I preferred as long as it wasn’t too extreme. Once I went freelance, I rarely saw anyone in a professional capacity from one year to the next, so I could wear what I liked.
But does it really matter what you look like? Does an unconventional look really make you unprofessional?
I don’t think so.
Last year I used Peek User Testing to check out my website, and the tester mentioned that they thought green hair was unprofessional, that I should get a more professional, conventional picture for my website, and that they would not feel comfortable using my services as I had green hair. Hmmm.
But do you know what? When I sat down and thought about it, I realised that if a potential client goes by hair colour, rather than my qualifications and experience, they aren’t the client for me anyway.
But before you take the plunge there are some things you should take into account:
Pros of being ‘unconventional’:
- What was unconventional a few years ago isn’t necessarily unconventional now. By doing your own thing you show that you are confident in your skin.
- It actually gives you confidence. Just yesterday, as I was in Starbucks, a lass behind the counter said she loved my hair. Last week a woman stopped me in Tesco to say she loved my hair. How cool is that? It really gives you a boost.
- You are instantly recognisable. Loads of people I’ve met at SfEP conferences over the past couple of years have approached me because they recognised me from my profile picture.
- You stand out in a crowd. If someone needs to find you, they don’t need to look very hard!
- It sets you apart. People remember you.
- It adds a level of interest to you, as a person. It conveys your personality more. If you see me with my green hair, you’ll probably get more of an idea what I’m really like.
- It’s a good way to break the ice. For instance I’ve met a couple of quite high-powered individuals for meetings, and when you’re feeling a bit less-than-confident, mentioning that they won’t miss you because you’ll be the only person in reception with green hair is a great way to lighten the situation.
Cons of being ‘unconventional’:
- People can see you as unprofessional. But that’s their problem if they can’t see past a beige existence.
- You’re instantly recognisable and stand out in a crowd. Sometimes you just want to blend into the background and be left alone … that doesn’t happen when you have bright hair.
- People sometimes don’t take you seriously. It’s a bit like being blonde – obviously if you dye your hair a ‘weird’ colour your brain is full of fluff, unicorns and glitter (ok, mine can be, but us ‘unconventional types’ are serious too).
- You forget that you’re unconventional. I don’t see myself as an unconventional type, but other people do. Perhaps by doing what we want, and living our lives the way we want, we are not conventional, but who wants to live like that? Occasionally, though, you are reminded that you’re not ‘normal’.
- You sometimes wonder why people are staring – until you realise they’re not staring past you, they’re staring at you … because you have alternatively coloured hair.
- You may miss out on working with clients because they don’t feel comfortable, don’t think you’re professional or just can’t take you seriously. If this really bothers you, don’t dye your hair. For me, if someone can’t see past it, it’s a deal breaker anyway.
So, you see, since I left the brown hair behind, life has changed for the better. I’m more confident, more comfortable in my skin and feel more like myself.
How about you? Are you an ‘unconventional’ professional? How has it changed your life? Do you work in an environment that stifles your creativity or are you able to be yourself? Or do you agree that being unconventional is unprofessional? Let me know, I’d love to hear your experiences.