December 6, 2022

If you are familiar with the colored chicks vendors would sell outside the school, I grew up to be one.

I just wanted to try if I looked good with a different color other than black. So when I saw an ad for a salon with an opening promo, I took the chance. I got in there with an impulsive decision, asking the owner, “Nagkukulay po ba kayo ng buhok?” They said yes. I looked at the list of colors, and the color blue caught my attention. And that started my “sisiw journey”.

Since semi-permanent colors, especially bright ones, fade within a month, I would always reapply a new set of dye on my own at home. I would go to groceries and beauty products stores to understand the terms most commonly used in hair coloring. Soon, I watched YouTube videos of hair disasters to note what not to do. And soon after, I posted pictures of myself with new hair colors every month.

I wanted to become an icon. So I entered the first day of my college class with colored hair.
And indeed, my new classmates were interested in knowing when I would color my hair again.

People would ask, “Hindi ba nasisira buhok mo?” Well, bleaching and dyeing your hair is damaging. Bleaching and coloring make your hair prone to damage . I had to bleach my hair twice just to have that gorgeous blue, and it made my hair brittle and rubbery – a sign of terrible hair damage. I would also do bleach wash whenever I wanted to dye my hair another color.

I need to bleach my roots almost every month because the new hair growth doesn’t suit my hair color. I thought it was easy being a “colored sisiw”. I was living the dream and I was living my truth.

But behind the gorgeous selfies showing off your popping crowning glory is the burden of maintaining and taking care of your beautiful hair. You have to buy particular products, shampoo and conditioner that is sulfate-free, a deep conditioning mask to nourish your dry hair, coconut oil to protect hair when bleaching, and other special products to maintain your hair. Sometimes, I would even get burns on my scalp because of bleach and not care if it happened. I always think, “‘Di bale, maganda pa rin naman kulay.”

Another problem is whenever we try to apply for jobs, some companies prefer naturally colored hair. And when we need valid IDs, people also worry about their colored hair.

In my experience, I was able to apply for my voter’s ID and national ID with my brightly colored hair. And since companies nowadays are getting more progressive, brightly colored hair is now acceptable and employees even rise to the top. Even as a student, I still have brightly colored hair. I’ve received comments about not being capable to lead and achieve academically with my hair but I just laugh it off because I know what I am capable of.

Our hair and fashion sense do not correlate with our performance as leaders of today and the future. I get along just fine and am still able to lead and push for my advocacies.

Our hair is part of our self-expression and self-love. Dyeing my hair has been my way of expressing myself. It is also therapeutic to see myself “being myself.” With every hair color, I feel at ease. I feel like my best self.