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Linda O’Connor: Bright burgundy hair won’t upset this mom

My 21-year-old daughter’s hair is burgundy – a color undeniably acquired from a dye, not Mother Nature.

I eye my daughter from across the room. She is petite, with fair skin, blue eyes and, long, silky hair that, despite its unnatural color, does nothing to diminish her beauty. Her natural hair color, which up until a month ago remained untouched by chemical hair dyes, is a warm brown with natural highlights that never seem to fade, even in winter. Women pay good money to have hair as beautiful as hers is naturally.

I study her, trying to make sense of her definition of beauty. She loves her burgundy hair, home-colored with some boxed hair dye that, no doubt, I paid for – likely when I asked her to pick up some things from the grocery store and gave her my credit card to do so. If I looked closely at the receipt, I’m sure the charge would be there. Listed between spinach and eggs, I’d find burgundy hair dye.

I take in my daughter, imagining the return of her natural hair color. With time, the burgundy will fade, wash or grow out – that is, if Kathryn allows it.

I once dyed my hair a similar bold color by mistake. My family and I were heading to Chautauqua Lake to vacation. Before we left, I picked up a few things from the store, including hair dye to conceal my gray.

When reaching for my usual hair product from the store shelf, I noticed that the box in front was badly damaged, so I grabbed the one behind it and tossed it into my shopping cart, assuming it to be the same color.

It was only after I had mixed the dye, applied it to my hair and then waited the allotted time for the color to take hold that I noticed the disposable gloves that I wore when coloring my hair were now stained purple. Purple!

I frantically grabbed the box only to discover that the color that was now seeping into my scalp, covering my hair, ridding me of my gray, was Egyptian plum. The wrong color! But there was no turning back. I was on vacation and my hair would remain Egyptian plum for the duration of our stay. My kids loved the new color. I would have preferred my natural brown.

That said, it’s hard for me to understand why my daughter would intentionally color her hair burgundy. Admittedly, I was equally mystified when, years earlier, she added a few extra piercings to her ears and, later, pierced her belly button. Just the thought of that last piercing still makes me squirm. But I suppose if anyone can pull off piercings and burgundy hair it’s a young, confident woman.

I sip my hot chocolate and try to imagine my daughter in 10 years. I assume the burgundy will be long gone, but wonder what will replace it. Will she return to her own warm brown hair with natural highlights or perhaps sport a short, pixie haircut and a new bold color?

She smiles at me, her face radiant, and asks what I am thinking. I shake my head. Who am I to say what is right or wrong, attractive or not? The old cliché that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” undoubtedly rings true. Despite the eye-catching burgundy color, my daughter is a beautiful young lady and I wouldn’t change a hair on her head.