The Galleries page on this website is kind of a rough, half-heartedly strewn together, mash of random photos from holidays, media appearances, and old modelling shoots. I will sit down and put this page together properly on a nice little rainy day, perhaps sooner than later.
You might notice that in each one of the photographs of me (with the exception of a few Hallowe’en photos in which I am donning wigs) my locks are blonde. I’m a natural golden goddess, and have always worn my hair in one shade of blonde or another – with help, depending on the shade. That is, I have always until recently.
Over the holiday season last year I decided to try out the brunette way of life. I liked it so much that I am now ‘officially’ a full-fledged, card-carrying, brunette. I updated my Passport just the other week, with my first official ID depicting me in Raven hues.
Prior to my journey to the dark side (did you think I’d miss the opportunity to throw that in!), I never put much thought into stereotypes about my own appearances, – beyond concealing or omitting the little tidbit that I used to model from professional peers. The reason I concealed this was simple: I have always excelled in fields that were typically male-dominated, and it was not uncommon for me to be, quite literally, the only female in my professional peer group. I usually had to work twice as hard just to get to these places, only to realise I was often twice as good as the clowns sitting beside me, once I finally got there. It was ridiculous. Nonetheless, I felt that photographs from modelling would only serve to emphasise that I was indeed a female, would encourage objectification, and thus undermine my actual value and my actual work. This did, and does, make me feel positively ill.
Read the above paragraph to yourself again, if you have a moment. Think about the last two sentences in particular. As a part of our rampant rape culture, that kind of narrative is a close cousin to a victim-blaming or slut-shaming mentality – on my own part!
In more recent years, I have adopted a very different perspective from the above narrative. I happily include some old modelling photographs in my personal online space. I am currently on a new fitness regime, and will have photographs which will reflect all of this hard work fairly soon. I’m proud of this work. I’m proud of the shift in my attitude toward appearances, as the shift from more of a vanity-based motive to a genuine care for health is a journey that I am sure is not unique to me as a female in the 21st century. I’m extremely proud of my professional and academic successes, too. In addition to depictions of my healthy and fit physique, my Galleries page will have a quite a few sets of photos that will express my professional and academic successes and strengths. Why? Because all of these things express who I am. The years that I spent concealing parts of who I am are the years that I felt the most alone and the least happy, regardless of the size of my social circles or professional successes. I refuse to do this to myself again. I could write volumes on my thoughts on this, but perhaps another time.
Back to the original point of this post. Hair colour. Right.
Through the last 10 – 15 years, it’s funny that it never did cross my mind once that the colour of my hair would have made any sort of difference in the way I would be perceived by others. Not one time. Maybe I trivialised it because I felt that my body or gender eclipsed something relatively minor. I don’t know. Nonetheless, I did not believe that any person worth his or her salt would buy into stereotypes of the bubbly blonde.
When I went brunette, it was purely because I liked the change. I really like the way that the colour goes with my natural skintone and blue eyes. I hardly feel like a different person, and that is because I hardly am.
However, there’s this interesting thing that has started to happen to me over the course of the last five months (incidentally, the first five months of my ‘brunette era’). I may not feel like a different person, but I have started to notice that I am certainly treated as one. I am no more intelligent now than I have always been, but I notice that I am treated as though I am. It is subtle, but it is found in the little things. For example, I cannot help but notice that it takes less effort for people to listen when I speak. Furthermore, I am described as ‘highly intelligent’ (both to my face and, from what I gather, in my absence) far more frequently, by the same sorts of individuals who might have used words like ‘beautiful’ or even ‘aggressive’ (?) to describe me in the same sorts of contexts when I had blonde hair.
There have even been one or two occasions that I have wanted to just scream to particular individuals, “I am EXACTLY the same!! HOW can you not see this? Same Heidi. Just different hair. Same. Same.” These people know exactly who they are.
Calming down… Okay.
Of course, my anecdotal evidence, like all evidence of this nature, has its limitations. I do not believe that this experience has been imagined or that I am applying my own biases, though. As stated, it never crossed my mind that hair colour would cause a difference in perceived intelligence or reinforce any other types of stereotypes. In fact, I felt that merely being female had already done that job fairly well. Valid evidence or not, I have decided that I do find myself now equipped with another reason – to toss on the pile of reasons – to believe that the world is filled with people who either lack or do not employ critical thinking skills. These are always the same people who seem to breed like rabbits, unfortunately. It doesn’t need to be said that this is merely my opinion, but I’ll say it anyway for clarity’s sake. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more than typically eager to collect reasons to feel this way, because generally speaking, I feel that the human race is a cesspool. Once again, that is merely my opinion, and it is another rant for another time.
To lighten the mood from the cesspool comment that I not-so-inconspicuously slipped in, and about stupid people being at the forefront of perpetuating said cesspool (I crack me up!), here is a photograph of brunette Heidi, taken yesterday: