Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My 11-Year-Old Wants to Dye Her Hair Purple, and I'm Probably Going to Let Her

As adoptee who didn't meet any of my immediate biological relatives until I was an adult, I am perhaps more fascinated than the average person with the ways that biological relatives take after each other. Some things are more expected than others. For example, it doesn't seem all that surprising to me that my biological mother, brother, and I each make our living using writing as one of our primary tools of the trade, or that (as I recently learned) my biological father and I participated in the exact same sports in high school, but who would have expected that a habit of turning a hand a certain way when talking (as my birth mother and I both do) would be a genetic trait? Or licking salt off pretzels (and leaving the pretzel) as my daughter Ashley and her biological mother both do?

My daughter Mackenzie has been wanting to dye her hair for, well, for as long as she has been aware that such a thing was possible. I've been holding her off for years, during which time she has had to make due with wigs and an occasional temporary dye that doesn't change the base color of her hair.

What does this have to do with genetics, you say? I give you Exhibit A: My Biological Mother (Mackenzie's Grandmother):

And if further evidence is needed, here's my biological brother (Mackenzie's uncle) as a teen:

Mackenzie will be entering 7th grade next year at an artsy public charter school, and she wants to take the hair color thing to the next level with a more "permanent" dye job. It's not a done deal. We're in the negotiation phase; I have some concerns and we're addressing them. But in the end, I'll probably say yes. In this case, the combination genetic predisposition and environmental influence may be too much to fight.

Grandma BJ to baby Mackenzie: "Just wait until you get some hair! We are going to have so much fun!"


  1. Good for you! Let her express her creativity. In my opinion, there are bigger issues to tackle with our kids than what color their hair is. Purple hair color I could live with. Daisy Duke shorts, not so much. I love that you included picks you your bio mom's penchant for colorful doos. So interesting!

  2. Do it! I dyed my hair teal when I was 16 (now I'm 24 and in grad school for biophysics - not artsy at all - and I have a purple mohawk). I had always wanted to do something to challenge how people saw me and be a little rebellious and hair seemed like the perfect medium. If you get tired of it, cut it off, or bleach it again and re-dye!

    However, having done extreme hair colors for 8 years, I would strongly recommend that you get professional help the first time you do serious bleaching. I now bleach my own hair (with professional powder/gel combo), but I did some terrible stuff to it the first few times. Also for a kid, you might want to start with bright tips, because as you bleach your roots over and over to keep extreme colors looking bright, your hair gets very fragile. After three straight years of all-blue hair I had to grow it out for a year because it was breaking all the time. With tips, you don't get the same re-bleaching issue and it looks really cool - you can even do rainbow shading down the length of the hair.

  3. Barbara Jean WalshMay 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    And then there's the shoe gene . . . .

  4. Good lord, yes! Another one that skipped a generation.

  5. Thanks for your comment and for the "tips"! Lame pun intended. :-p

  6. I recently skyped my birth mother after not having seen her for about 5 years. She was wearing the same dark-purple nail polish I was...

    Great post.

  7. I love this! Thank you for sharing this post. What a great site and story you all have. I can't wait to explore more of your blog as my husband and I are looking to adopt and are looking for more authentic accounts than what we've seen so far. Appreciate your candor. - Michelle of


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