Friday, November 17, 2006

The Power of Purple

When I was in college (many, many moons ago), doing the Art School Babe of Doom thing, I had no problem running around Chicago in Doc Martins, a hippie skirt and a black leather motorcycle jacket. And oh yeah, orange hair shaved on one side.

'Cause, y'know, I was cool. At least as long as I was at school or stayed in the designated freaky art school areas (clubs, coffee houses, certain galleries, etc., etc.). Going to the grocery store or the post office or a "regular" department store was a different story. Sometimes it didn't matter at all. Sometimes people said stupid stuff and sometimes I was treated like...well, a potential criminal. And once, while traveling home for Christmas, a redneck in a Mississippi truck-stop seriously wanted to kick my ass. Not because I said anything to him, but because of how I looked. Plus, I think he really wanted to impress his girlfriend. Weird.

So now I'm knocking on 40, I work at home, and I decided to try out some of the colors I never got around to (purple, blue...still contemplating the possibility of fuschia). And you know what? People treat middle-aged women with purple hair quite a bit differently than they did the art school chicky. And most of it's not bad. In fact, I can't tell you how many women of various ages have confided that they would like to do something like that and I've had 2 ask what brand of dye I used. Double weird.

The really interesting thing is that people tend to either feel quite comfortable asking personal questions, or they try to ignore me. Seriously, when was the last time you asked a stranger what kind of hair dye they used, or why they chose to do something? I don't really mind, but it's still interesting. The lady at the laundromat wouldn't look me in the eye - she worked pretty hard to act like I didn't exist. She settled down when she realized I wasn't rude, angry, or an axe-murderer. Another woman asked me if my hair was this color on purpose. I almost laughed in her face...uh, no. Now that you mention it, this isn't on purpose, but the result of a terrible grape KoolAid industrial accident. Very tragic. So now I'm wondering how to work this into a story - the whole look different enough so that no one actually looks at your face disguise.

The men are a different story. My poor opthamologist couldn't muster more than "your hair wasn't that color before, was it?" followed by "it suits you." I know he was struggling, trying to be nice. I caught another guy openly staring at me (as in, he kept right on staring after he knew I had seen him), with kind of a creepy smirk on his face. What's up with that? Folks who know me just laugh and shake their heads, or think it's fun.

And I guess that's what it comes down to, having a little fun. Nobody gets hurt, I get to giggle and watch how folks react. I can't help it. It's just so damn funny how easy it is to knock people out of their comfort zone over something that has zero direct impact on their own lives. Plus, like I said before, they're a lot nicer to the eccentric middle-aged lady than they would ever be to the so-called attention-seeking teenager. Gotta love how we come up with handy-dandy boxes to put people in so we can figure out how to cope!

8 Comments:

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Trace said...

I've never had purple hair. I've had many other colours though. I did the all black thing in highschool and first year of University. Now I'm pretty normal looking. I think I've got most people snowed until they actually talk to me BUHAHAHAHAHA!!

 
At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

No matter what color the hair, it beats the color of the wig. Not that you need one.

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger angie said...

Yeah, I've been relatively normal looking for quite a while, so this was a fun experiment. Appearances can absolutely be deceiving - if they only knew the evil lurking behind that serene exterior that Trace shows the world...

 
At 5:41 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

You should put something purple in the wealth corner of all your rooms I used to do that.

I think I will again.

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger angie said...

what the hell is a wealth corner?

 
At 7:04 PM, Blogger dink said...

Nice post, angie.

I'm a former art school freak myself. I've had my bizarre fashion moments--oh yeah.

 
At 7:42 AM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

from a RELATIVE standpoint, it would be the Northwest corner of your own personal little compass.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Granny J said...

I recall my then-live-in warning me not to go barefoot around Hyde Park. "They'll kill you. They don't like people to be different," he said. And yes, I also did all black in the 50s, long before the Goths had invented themselves. It sure bugged my folks!

 

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