Growing up, I have always loved mermaids. I watched The Little Mermaid on repeat, pretended to be a mermaid in the pool and longed to have long, colorful hair. Unfortunately, my school dress code prohibited that. So as soon as I graduated high school, I began to dye my hair crazy colors, fulfilling my childhood aspirations. I went through purple, teal, pink and more. I was in love with my hair and was happier with myself than ever. However, I was surprised at the amount of criticism I received. While I still received a lot of positive responses, many elderly people gave me strange looks, my peers labeled me and my parents frequently rolled their eyes when I walked through the door with a new hair color.
The overall opinion of my hair was that it was unprofessional. For a while, the countless comments really brought me down. However, I thankfully also received many compliments and support. The many people that expressed their positive opinions and encouraged me to pursue what makes me happy changed my entire outlook. Eventually I just realized that I was happy with my hair and the way I looked. Who cares what anyone else thinks?
I also realized that my hair did not detract from my professionalism in any way. It did not change my demeanor or attitude. If anything, it made me a more confident and self-assured person who felt comfortable in their own skin (or hair, in this case). I did not work any less, nor did it change how I interacted with those around me. I still came to work, did my job, went to class and lived my life the same way as before, just a little bit more colorfully.
While I agree that in professional environments it is important to maintain a professional dress, I do not believe that my hair color detracts from that. It does not take away from my skills, talents, or knowledge. My hair does not affect others, and it should not cause others to think differently of me. I am the same person that I was with brown hair as I am with purple hair.
Everyone chooses to express themselves in their own individualistic way. Some people wear different dress styles and makeup trends, while others dye their hair in mermaid fashions. My expression of my individuality is not something that affects my work ethic or skills. My hair color is part of what makes me “me” and raises my confidence. If anything, I am happier and more confident, making me a better employee and student. Just because I express myself differently, and maybe a little bit more colorfully, does not mean that I am not a professional and capable asset to a workplace. I would encourage others to be more accepting of how others choose to express themselves, and be more willing to encourage those to seek out what makes them happy, rather than tear others down for their expression of individuality.