A Natural Pink

September 22, 2018 / Spark Magazine

9:00 am. January 27, 2018.  That’s when I was going to go blonde.

I had framed the change, from my then midnight blue to my soon to be Billy Idol cut and colored head, as a sort of gay rite of passage (I know straight dudes go blonde too, but…shut up, I dunno). I show my hair stylist the picture and she says…nope. My hair’s too green. I then go into a full Pinterest search frenzy. As I’m frantically scrolling for ideas on my hair board, a hot pink hue I half-heartedly saved catches my eye. “Will this work?” I ask her. She says yes with just the right amount of confidence for me to give her the green light but also warn me this might go south. 5 hours pass. I get a good look at my new spitfire pink head and I just feel…right? Whole? Self-actualized? I know it may sound a lil crazy, but it was like I was supposed to be pink.

My wardrobe gained new life. I saw little flecks of pink in shirts I didn’t really notice before. I thought of new combinations and sought out garments that tickled a newfound rock-and-roll fancy. Everything felt elevated. I felt elevated. One class day, I was looking through my drawers. As soon as I caught a glimpse of a neglected baby pink concert tee, I snatched it up so fast and put together a pink-on-pink look. Black and white never looked so good on me like it did with that dollop of fuchsia on my head. A short sleeve camouflage button down that I might not have noticed before became an irresistible punk rock moment waiting to party.

Just like my hair, a new piece of inspirational pink found its way into my life by accident. Models who walked in a show at Austin fashion week I attended graced the runway with two distinct flavors of metallic Doc Martens — silver and (you guessed it) P. I. N. K. They called the hairs on my neck to attention, and I just knew that one way or another they’d be on my feet too. It took a couple months, but I emerged victoriously (I could only find the shoe version, but they’re still sweet as candy)! That familiar mental mix and match followed: yellow tee + white jeans + pink Docs; white tee + high waisted brown plaid pants + pink Docs. Mwah!

As the universe would have it, Janelle Monaé released “Pynk” a few months after I went pink and I. Loved. That. Freaking. Song.  She so beautifully articulated the scope of pink in our lives, from parts of our tiny, ephemeral human bodies to cosmic entities as old as time. She got me thinking about how the color pink was everywhere and in everything. Why had I not noticed our collective obsession with millennial pink and stopped to think about it? How had I overlooked capital “P” in Pink for this long?

That instant connection I felt with my pink hair started on a purely surface level appreciation, but as the fading dye drew the hues of my hair and lips closer together, pink became me. With every passing day, I looked in the mirror and saw my head ablaze. It felt like the strands of my new “fashion” color were rooted not to my head but to my spirit. I liked to imagine that the undeniably artificial shade was sprouting organically (I even called myself a “natural pink”).

Christene Barberich (co-founder and editor-in-chief of Refinery29) said something to Man Repeller that I found quite poignant. When asked, “What is the point of fashion?”, she said:

"I know practically, fashion is art, it’s commerce, it’s function, it’s expression. But I also can’t mistake the simple gut reaction I have when I see something I love, that really knocks me out. It’s like out of the blue, finding something special that you’ve lost. You know that feeling: ‘Oh geezus, THERE it is!’ And then, somehow you find a way to make it your own, and once it is [your own], you’re just a little bit more yourself than you were before you found it? That’s fashion to me. Collecting beautiful little pieces of yourself over time."

I think that’s what “pink” boils down to. Sometimes you find those garments or that accessory that changes your viewpoint of not only your style, but also yourself. Going pink allowed me to bring out a side of myself that I hadn’t given myself full permission to own and show to the world. I gave myself permission to be feminine, to be sexy, to be colorful. I found that pink piece of me in my hair, my Docs, my tees, a piece that’s always been there. Though those pink locks have long since grown out and been chopped away, I still look at my Docs and smile, awaiting my next appointment to return to my (not-so) natural shade. •

By: Nick Sheppard

Graphics by: Alice Cheung

Nick Sheppard is an incoming third year Government major. He has written for Spark for two semesters and joined the online team this summer. While he’s a little late to the game, Nick just discovered James Charles’ YouTube channel and really can’t stop won’t stop watching it.
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