Posted: Jul 04, 2013 9:00 AM
For mothers and daughters, finding the line between fashion as fun and fashion as a way to cover faults is a delicate balance. An unfiltered conversation with my daughter might have taught me a little about beauty and self-acceptance.

The loaded question

My daughter and I have never looked alike.

"But Mommy? Why don't you want to have hair like us?"

Her question was a surprise, truthfully. My daughter and I have never looked alike — she entered the world resembling my husband and nothing has changed in the last five years. Her blond hair, so light her first few years, was destined to darken. My husband's darkened in stages, aged photos show a little boy with hair that looked highlighted, strands of darkness streaking through his childhood blondness until he emerged with a full head of dark hair.

Only my colorist knows for sure

My own hair? Well, that's more complicated. It still gleams blond in the sunlight, chemically altered to a shade it hasn't been in more years than I remember. I'm not exactly sure what color lurks beneath my highlights and lowlights — but my roots tell me it's closer to the warm brown I see on my own mother's head than the honey I see when I look in the mirror.

An unintentional gauntlet

And just like that, my 5-year-old has challenged me to match my words and my actions. Without understanding the way in which my identity is tied to a hair color that isn't even my own, she's given me the chance to push myself out of my comfort zone. I'm not sure what I'll tell my colorist the next time I settle into her chair, but I think it's time to have some fun with my hair again — and to find out how much fun a different color can be.

But blondes have more fun

I've flirted with darker locks in the past. Darker lowlights, fewer highlights, even one foray into an all-over color that was supposed to wean me from my blond addiction. I've always retreated back to some variation of the color I've been foiling and heating and treating since my first part-time job in high school. I tell myself it flatters my skin tone, but truthfully it's about how I feel as a blonde — not how I look. Somehow fresh highlights make me temporarily taller, younger, more confident and prettier.

When words and actions collide

I tell her how beautiful her hair is, but her concerns aren't so easily assuaged.

Now my gorgeous, perceptive, inquisitive daughter is noticing her own hair darkening, her brother's hair darkening, my roots darkening, and she's asking why I go "get my hair done" and cover the color she sees in the mirror with something artificial — something she used to have.

I tell her how beautiful her hair is, but her concerns aren't so easily assuaged. I tell her it's fun to play around with hair color, that it's like wearing lipgloss or putting on a costume. I wonder if she hears the uncertainty in my voice, and her follow up questions show she isn't satisfied with my answer.

"But it's not like a costume because you don't take it off. It's always like that. Don't you want to try it different ways if it's just for fun?"

More about having fun with hair

Rock rainbow locks
Try ombre color
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