What pink hair taught me about branding yourself as a creative

I didn't do it for a response, but what happened next changed how I view creative brands.

A couple of months ago I finally bit the bullet and dyed my hair pink. The flood of Pinterest images with awesome pink hairstyles, a lingering Barbie fetish from my youth, and the realization that everything I love came into my life when I was in fourth grade made me decide to just go for it. It wasn’t an experiment. I didn’t think anything would really change for me beyond really ticking off my mother

Actual mom response when I sent her a pic: “Well, at least you still have your face!”

So I knew I would love it, and I did. But what I didn’t expect is that having pink hair is an invitation to everyone you know and have just met to talk to you about your pink hair. For someone who naturally tends to sink into the background in groups (my husband once said I need to wear a hat if we go out in a crowd), it took a bit getting used to. Everyone has an opinion on pink hair. And while I am certainly not the first person to dye my hair pink (actually I feel like I’m at the tail-end in terms of trendiness), I did learn a few things.

Me with pink hair:

Pink hair life lessons

  1. Pink makes me happy. What makes you happy at 10 will make you happy at 38. I have been channeling my inner 4th grade girl for about a year and a half now. When I look back at that girl, I can identify what she found joy in, what moved her, what activities she lost herself, where she found herself again and again. Right now, in my creativity, I am 100% working through obsessions I had as a fourth grader. Pink is part of this.
  2. People love pink hair. Except my husband. For a while, when people asked about it, the first thing I would say is: Adam hates it! Yes, I threw him under the bus every time. But honestly, he’s one of those “I love you the way you are” men, and I’m thankful. As long as he’s okay with me doing bizarre stuff just because. Now I am saying “thank you” instead. Much better form.
  3. Pink is political. Pink is the pussy hat of hairs. It just is. I live in one of those suburban neighborhoods where not a single person knows her neighbors’ political affiliations. But if you go and give yourself pink hair they kind of know where you stand. I’m okay with that!
  4. Pink is the hero to all girls. I love meeting 6-year-old girls right now because I’m pretty much their hero in the flesh. When I first had it done it was bright azalea, so in-your-face that a little girl I know stopped and stared dumbfounded and asked her mom if she could approach and talk to me. I became an actual unicorn. Amazing. I can think of no better thing than being a hero to small children.
  5. Pink is anticipatory. Some folks I know only peripherally follow me on social media and were actually waiting for us to run into each other so they could check it out. People really need excitement, and, oddly, I found myself, after the first few  times, actually happy to provide it.
  6. Pink is memorable. My friend, YA author Kate Ristau, has blue hair, and honestly, while I’ve always loved it on her, I totally understand it from an author branding strategy now. Hair is simply one of those identifiable personality markers, so it’s fun to think about the many ways you can change it to fit your personal creative brand. Yuck, did I just say that? Yes. I did. See the next one.
  7. Pink makes it easy for people talk to you. I live in a small town, and I know who the wonderful shy people are. They are the ones who never speak first, who lurk in the background, doing their thing. They are always a little awkward to talk to (I used to be like this, takes one to know one). But guess what? Get some pink hair and these folks have something to break the ice with. I am more than happy to be someone else’s Walking Icebreaker. Why not? There is so little at stake. It’s just hair.
  8. Pink fades very quickly to blond. That’s where I am now. I’m a terrible blond. I can recognize myself with pink hair but with blond I’m like: Ewww. Honestly, I’ll probably dye it back soon. But the lesson has stuck. Find a way to make it easy for strangers to talk to you. Maybe it’s pink hair, maybe it’s just how you comport yourself. Be a hero to young girls, or whoever you want to be a hero to.

In other words, be a walkin’, talkin’ unicorn if it helps you identify as a creative and have others do the same.

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