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Has anyone ever made a comment on your appearance, positive or negative, that changed your perception of yourself, like, forever?

For me, it was when a hair stylist described the natural color of my tresses as “mousy brown.”

I was in my early 20s, trying to dress for success at my first real job in New York, and the last animal I wanted to be compared with was a timid, boring little mouse.  I wanted to be a Palomino or a lion.  You know, something blonde.

Now that's good hair

After that comment, the hairdresser had no trouble selling me on highlights (what a nice annuity for his salon) and from there my hair starting getting blonder…

And blonder…

… until finally someone at work said, “Why don’t you just move to California already?”  And so I did.

My blonde may be faux, but it’s a real part of my identity now, and I can prove it:  I’m bubbly (when I’m drunk), I definitely have more fun (than monks or prisoners) and I take offense at dumb blonde jokes, unless they’re really funny.

When you’re a fake blonde for a long time (like Madonna), I think the statute of limitations on your natural hair color expires and you actually become a real blonde.  Follow my blonde logic: There are childhood photos of me at the beach in which my hair appears dirty blondish.  My arm hair is blonde.  My driver’s license says I’m blonde.  Construction workers have occasionally called out “hey Blondie” when I pass. My fiance and child have only known me as a blonde.  I’m pretty sure I’ve always been blonde.  Yep, I’m a real blonde.

Which is why, when this ancient photo of me appeared on Facebook last week, I was like, holy crap, who’s that?

Answer: Me, age 18, with my baby sister Zane

My first instinct was to untag.  Brunette had no place in my blonde world; looking at that photo felt too much like seeing Clark Kent and Superman in the same room.   But it’s such a sweet picture of me and my half sister Zane, just a baby then, now a college graduate working at her first real job in New York.  Ah yes, everything comes full circle.

I’d advise Zane not to let any enterprising hairdressers mess with her sense of self, but she already knows better than that.

And lucky for her, she’s a natural blonde.

Zane, the real deal

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