The cloud cover whisked away as bright white sun came out over the amusement park yesterday. I was chaperoning my son’s eighth grade physics trip to Cedar Point, and while I anticipated not going on the rides for fear of motion sickness and heights, a new friend inspired me to keep my mind open and my eyes closed as I raced along the tracks.
It was fun. And it allowed some time for me to ponder today’s youth.
Aside from the be-bopping constant selfies and seemingly endless snapchat streaks, I noticed two hair trends among the girls in my son’s grade and really in the world at-large: blue-purple-pink-green hair dye in copious amounts and double French braids.
The braids I can live with. The blue hair, not so much.
And here’s why: this is something that was intended to be counter-culture, in-your-face, I’m mixing things up so I can defy my parents. It didn’t start out as a popular trend.
And now, the hair color is not only mainstream, it’s common.
Tattoos, piercings in odd places and radical hair color used to be the actions of punk-rock, alternative lifestyle folks. You didn’t see parents and business owners with sleeve tattoos or eyebrow rings. You do now.
Not only that, it’s cool to turn your hair shocking pink, electric green or turquoise. There’s a whole crowd of girls who change their hair color nearly as often as they change their underwear.
Which means it is no longer counter-culture or alternative. It’s mainstream to be weird.
People my age have pink streaks in their mom-hair. Nose rings. Tattoos. It’s cool now. Everything is cool.
Which makes it uncool in my book.
It’s impossible to rebel, or stand out, when everyone else is doing the same things you are.
We strive so desperately to be unique that we conform. We try new things only when they seem safe enough because someone we know is doing it.
In fact, it’s unique in this day and age to NOT color your hair. A few weeks ago my sister and my mother asked me if I was going to color my hair to cover up the gray creeping in around my face. “I don’t know,” I said honestly. It’s kind of a pain and it’s expensive and besides, some people look really elegant when they let their bodies be natural.
Ironically, when I was growing up, referring to a “blue-hair” meant you were talking about an old lady with sculpted hair that was so dyed it had a blue tint to it. It was not a compliment by any stretch of the imagination.
But back to today. Of course, there’s the other side to argue, too. But what most irks me about the current middle school fashion trends, which have permeated popular culture, is that it’s cool to be uncool.
It’s hip to be awkward and different and gawky. It’s mainstream to be weird.
Personally, I love that so much is accepted nowadays. I love that you can work for an investment bank and have tattoos or piercings. I love that kids are growing up without preconceptions of appearance.
If everyone has blue hair, aren’t we all back to being sheep?
If we only find beauty in what is glaringly unnatural, how will we ever come to accept ourselves as we are?
Ultimately, the trend I see is a continuation of the age-old, which is following the herd. Whatever you do, I will do. I don’t know how cool I am without knowing that you are cool. I cannot think for myself. I cannot be my own person.
I must find safety in numbers.
That scares me more than the color of hair.