I was going through severe need for spring color and the winter here in our new home has been unlike anything I've ever experienced before. So, I dyed my hair blue and purple.
To me, this seemed like a normal response. Not a big deal. I've added purple or blue highlights in the past. Some like it, some don't. My husband loves it. But folks out here in the Midwest (remember, I'm a California native) do not seem to know what to do with me because of it. I'm serious.
Now, I'm not into rebellion as a way to express myself. I am into "pretty". I color my hair blue and purple, because to me (and more importantly, to my husband) blue and purple hair is pretty.
So, you can call me naive if you want, but I really did not expect any sort of prejudice to be connected to my odd hair color choices. As in, prejudice against me because I have blue hair. No way.
At first I enjoyed the random glares I would receive here and there. I would smile back at these folks like we shared a joke together: yes, I have blue hair--isn't it different and fun?? But then I noticed that some people I had started having a connection with previous to coloring my hair were stumbling over their words when we met, and trying hard not to look to hard at my coiffure. Ah well, I figured. It's just a good joke.
I've been attending a Christian Moms' group since having come to Illinois. I decided to help out at their yearly Rummage Sale. My purple highlights have faded to a pale navy color, and the brilliance of the aqua has also been toned down by numerous washings, so I'm not quite as colorful now as in the photos above. The Moms' group got their first look at me when I showed up to help set up. I've gotten a little more aware about the effect of my hair since it began to dawn on me that Mid-westerners are not as enured to such sights as apparently, Californians are. Or even Colorado peeps, since I was there for one colorful hair adjustment too.
Anyway, somewhere during the course of setting up, I realized there was a discussion going on in a corner with a group of the ladies who were not trying to keep their voices low. I first realized they were discussing hair and then heard something to the effect of: "Maybe if you were living in a metropolitan area, but I haven't seen anything like that out here".
My first thought: "That doesn't sound friendly".
Eh, no big deal. I shall overwhelm them with my friendliness and helpfulness. Then they will understand that hair color is no big deal. But people can choose whether or not they wish to be overwhelmed. One woman in particular was determined to not like me. Hmm. Maybe it's not hair at all--maybe she doesn't like my Colorado plates. We'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
I had found one or two women who I got along with and was chatting with happily them at the Sale, so I was content. After the height of Rummage madness was over, I sat down to munch on a piece of pizza with them and they asked me a bit more about myself. I explained the move from California, and then the move from Colorado and they asked me how I like it out here. So I was frank.
"I like parts of it, but ya'all our different out here about hair. I have colored it this way several times and never have I run into quite so much...well...I don't know, maybe people in California are more hardened to such sights." I ended this with a chuckle, because I guess I figured they would take it with the same surprise and see it as a joke the way I did. But the gal who I had talked the most with responded, "Yeah, when I met you, I didn't get the blue hair. But you don't talk like Someone with Blue Hair would talk."
Someone with Blue Hair. You could almost hear the capitals when she said it. And what does someone with blue hair talk like? How do you make an assumption about anyone based on your first glance of their outward appearance?
Ugh. It's like a bad essay prompt you would encounter in high school about prejudice: "You don't talk like someone with (insert adjective here) would talk..." Write one page. Due tomorrow.
All I can think about this is, if they have an issue with my hair dye, how on earth do they handle the people who come into their churches? (This sale we are having is a kind of outreach, as well as a service to the community. ) I have a good friend from California who has a bubbly personality and would lay her life down for the cross of Christ in an instant. But if she were here, somehow, I don't think that would matter to some in this Mom's Group as much as the tattoos on the backs of her arms. I don't think it would matter to them that both of the tattoos are Bible verses. I'm not sure they'd get close enough to her to discover that. Ugh. Prejudice of any kind is so...nasty.
The book of James is actually quite clear about prejudice based on outward appearance. Here's what it says in Chapter 2, verses 1 through 4:
"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If
you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say,
“Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there”
or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"
(image above by Emberblue on deviantart: http://emberblue.deviantart.com/ )
Sure, he's talking there about favoritism based on riches, but I think in our nation, where really, all of us are richer than 96% of the rest of the world, we can substitute basic outward appearance.
I don't want to miss out on getting to know a person or know their story because I am shocked or slightly offended by their initial appearance to me. They might be a treasure. They probably are. The best of treasures are usually the ones that are harder to find.
There is one more day in which I need to attend this Rummage Sale. But honestly, I don't like those women at the Sale very much. I don't want to hang out with them. I want to go hang out with the teenagers that sport gauges or the piercings. Those are my peeps! They'd celebrate my wild hair with me. It wouldn't be a hang-up to them and that would mean we wouldn't have to discuss it--instead, we could chat about things that actually have meaning. Like God's goodness. Or His love and incredible mercy.
That settles it. Only one thing to do. I'll go to the Sale. I committed to it, for one thing. But I'm going to go get out the bright aqua and re-do all my bright colors before I go back in. That's the only way to combat this prejudice junk. And the religious junk. Go face it head on, and love it to death.