What I Know for Sure: You Gotta Do You

I‘ve been thinking about this a lot, lately, what it means to be “me,” and not just be me, but feel like me. I think it’s almost two years’ worth of hair experimentation that has helped me truly know that you really can’t make over who you are too much and feel like you, no matter whether others like your style or agree, or not. We all have a default style—a personal identity comfort zone, if you will—and it usually has absolutely zero to do with trends, acceptance, or personal relationships. It’s about how we perceive ourselves, how we go about matching our outside to our inside.

Think about it. In recent times (and for the most extreme example), call to mind Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn. And if you’re of a certain age, cast your mind back to the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, whose prodigious eyelashes were as much a part of her identity as Jesus and the PTL Club. She kept the falsies and mascara flowing and heavy-handed, through preaching, parody, scandal, divorce, remarriage, and even cancer, God bless her.

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. Image via Pinterest.

According to The New York Times, a makeup artist once asked Tammy Faye to remove her false eyelashes, and she refused.

 “Without my eyelashes, I wouldn’t be Tammy Faye,” she said.* 


She knew they made her the butt of jokes and didn’t care, because they were her. For whatever reason, when she looked in the mirror and saw those long, mascara-clotted lashes staring back at her, she felt like her. And as incredibly accomplished and famous a male athlete Bruce Jenner was, at 65 he simply could not be Bruce anymore when he felt like Caitlyn inside—no matter the jokes, cruel comments, and consequences. Both Tammy and Caitlyn knew: you gotta do you.

The Full Circle

My longtime readers and friends have come to associate many things with me: dirty martinis, certain luxury fashion brands, and for years and years, a mane of long, shiny, dark hair. That last characteristic, more than any others, is probably my most significant identifier; and although I’ve always known I’m a long hair girl, it has become even more apparent to me coming off the aforementioned two years of hair unrest. Like anyone else, I occasionally do get bored with my hair, even if I know it is one of the main things that makes me, me.

This boredom prompted me to go red at the end of 2013 (loved it), but by mid 2014, that ever-fading red prompted me to go bronde (not so much). The blonde not only fried my hair, but faded to the color of dull, lifeless straw, which left me not really feeling like myself for pretty much the rest of 2014. All that bleach absolutely destroyed my hair, and it was no one’s fault but my own.

I used to get so many compliments on my shiny dark hair, and although the blonde streaks were a big step for me, they had the opposite effect on my style and confidence: they made me blend in. I became just another highlighted brunette, and felt like I kind of lost my mojo and my “V” identity. All the damage to my hair and that lingering feeling of my inside not being connected to my outside prompted a whopper of a hair cut early this year: six inches which took my hair to the above-the-boob danger zone.

It certainly wasn’t my first big hair chop, but the last one (which took me to about the same length) was back in 2008, and apparently the years softened the regret I felt at being, well, average-haired, so-to-speak. My hair was neither long nor short, neither blonde nor brunette. It wouldn’t stay wrapped in a bun without a bobby pin, and made a puny pony. It was just there, making no statement at all, which is definitely not how I roll.

The good ol' (hair) days
The good ol’ (hair) days

At 42, I thought I knew myself. Turns out I didn’t know myself as well as I thought I did, because the cut coupled with the now-two-tone-blonde-brunette hair made me feel like even more of a shrinking violet. But it was a necessarily evil and a lesson I had to learn. I vowed then and there to go back to square one, to me: V with the long dark hair, no matter my age. If Demi Moore can do it, well so can I. Unless I’m struck with a sudden whole-head grey takeover and I can pull a Sarah Harris (kind of would love to go there in a decade or so), I’ll be hanging out in the auburn-to-brown category. I won’t say that I’ll never do some lighter streaks again after I grow out all the damage from last year’s color, but I will say this: God willing, my hair will never be above-the-boob short ever again. Period.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been subtly pulling the brown down a few streaks at a time, and am loving feeling like a legit brunette again. I’m popping my Viviscal like crazy, and internally applaud every half-inch of growth monthly. I’ve officially exited the above-the-boob hair zone, and by the end of the year I’ll have my six inches back, more dark hair than light, and will have come full circle.

Because, hey…you gotta do you.

What one thing about your appearance makes you feel more “you” than anything else?


* Tammy Faye Bakker, 65, Emotive Evangelist, Dies. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/us/22bakker.html?_r=0


  1. FINALLY I get round to commenting on this. Read this wonderful post a couple of days ago, but I’m in a middle of a HUGE translation job, so no rest for the wicked, no even to have a good chat about hair 😉

    I’m with you V, my hair is a big thing for me. It was since I was little, and my mum forced me to cut it all of the time. When I was “old enough” (around 12) I asked her to please let me grow it once and for all, from a bob to proper locks, grazing my shoulders. I have A LOT of hair, I’m the one who will go to the hairdresser’s and spend an awful amount of money because of the time and effort it takes to style it.

    So I think, a big thing in being me, Jess, is my hair. And yet, I live in a constant battle with it, trying to tame it, trying to see who am supposed to be. I’m in my thirties, and over xmas cut my long hair (down to covering my breasts) to a bob. I felt my long unmanageable hair made me look messy, almost crazy. So I cut it. I’ve done this before, over the years (my hair grows incredibly fast) and, just like every time, I’m regretting having cut it and want it to grow asap.

    And the colour? Don’t get me started…I’ve been going grey since my early twenties and while it’s still not enough to look good as a full grey look, it means so much upkeep. I’ve been lightening it slowly… but, is it me? As a dark brunette I stood out more, now, like you mention when you went lighter, I blend in… and it doesn’t feel right.
    So still no clue what to do, apart from letting it grow. My hair is me, big time, but it’s also my biggest battle.

    I loved this post so much I am bookmarking it, so I can re-read it every so often. Thanks for writing about this xx

    1. Aw, thanks for your sweet comment, Jessie! I think we’re definitely on the same page. I’ve also got grey under this brown and have been coloring my hair since my late 20s, I think. Unfortunately, like you, it’s not enough for full grey…it’s just that really ugly salt and pepper. The blonde streaks were definitely me thinking it would be easier to maintain than my dark hair (in terms of roots), but that was a farce…nothing is easier or cheaper than single-process color, and it’s much gentler on the hair, for sure. Doing root color then bleaching our streaks is a 4-hour salon saga and who has time for that? Not me!

      Anyway, I guess we’ll both carry on this way…but deep down, I’m wishing my hair would go totally grey or white like my mom’s!