Let your hair down: inspirational 'dos around campus
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    Have you ever seen someone with colored hair on campus and wondered the story behind their decision to dye their locks? Well, we have.

    People who dye their hair different colors say it can be a cathartic experience. Changing the way you appear to the world can be freeing, and an amazing way to either start a new chapter in your life or challenge that ever-so-troublesome status quo. Passing that rainbow-haired student on the way to your class is great, but don’t you want to know the story behind their mermaid-like head of hair? You’re in luck! We’re spotlighting three Northwestern women with some of the most awesome hair on campus.

    Arudi Masinjila, Medill first-year from Nairobi, Kenya

    Arudi Masinjila

    Photo courtesy of Arudi Masinjila

    NBN: When did you start styling your hair in bright colors?

    Masinjila: I think it was around when I was 15. So, from the time I was 15, I sort of started gravitating towards getting more colorful hair because my natural hair was black and I couldn’t do so much with it. For example, I couldn’t braid it or put it in a weave or a wig, so whatever I do, I try to style it to a non-black color.

    NBN: What other colors have you had?

    Masinjila: Blonde, darker brown, darker purple, black and platinum, and dark brown and black. I also had ombre with black maroonish and the tips were blonde. My favorite has been the platinum.

    NBN: Do you style your hair yourself?

    Masinjila: My hairstylist in Nairobi does it for me. We either go to search together for the weave or the colored hair piece, or she tells me, “Oh, I saw this new color being sold and you’d like it, it would look good on you.” She twists extensions onto my natural hair and braids it all together.

    NBN : Why did you initially start to style your hair in unique colors?

    Masinjila: The reason is not at all that I woke up one day and said, “Oh, today it’s going to be … grey!” [The reason] comes from different places. Sometimes I think a certain color will look good on me, but I also see other people’s hair and see what looks good on them. Some tones look better on my skin than others. If I see a color that doesn’t go well with my skin tone, I avoid it.

    NBN: Do you have any idea of what to style it next?

    Masinjila: I don’t know exactly when, but I am thinking I will around Thanksgiving. I’ll get some shade of brown. It will be some mix of brown and black.

    NBN: Would you ever do the same color twice?

    Masinjila: [Laughs] Maybe when I run out of colors … maybe.

    NBN: In what way do you think your hair helps you express yourself?

    Masinjila: I think I can be an introverted, introspective, sometimes lonely person, so what I don’t have in personality and outgoingness or liveliness, I make up for in my hair.

    NBN: Do you get a lot of comments on your hair?

    Masinjila: Yes I do. Mostly compliments and positive comments.

    NBN: What is your favorite part about having dyed/interesting hair?

    Masinjila: That I am distinguishable from the norm.

    NBN: Do you have anything else you want to say about your amazing hair?

    Masinjila: I usually don’t agree with a lot of mainstream norms regarding professionalism and what that looks like and generally what is regarded as proper for official or academic settings. It is so monolithic and boring and [most people] all look the same, but you can’t all be the same! Expressing myself through my hair is sort of a form of showing my expression of discomfort for those norms. Initially, it wasn’t an act of grand defiance, but now that I think of it, it kind of is. Sometimes I’m forced to conform to those standards, so when I had an internship at a government office, I couldn’t go in with blonde hair. I tied it up so you could just see the black and not the blonde on the ends. I opted for that as opposed to another color that would be more “out there.” If it means losing my job, I might consider turning it down, but not all the way!

    NBN: Did you dye it purple for NU?

    Masinjila: Yes and no. No because it was sort of a coincidence, I had always wanted to get purple braids. The opportunity hadn’t revealed itself until right before I came to Northwestern. I had the option of another color but I said “I’m going to Northwestern, so why not?”

    HyoJung Kim, Medill second-year from Yong-in, South Korea

    HyoJung Kim

    Photo courtesy of HyoJung Kim

    NBN: When did you start dying/styling your hair?

    Kim: I dyed it last winter when I went back to Korea.

    NBN: Why did you start to style it that way?

    Kim: I just wanted to do something new and try something different. So I bleached my hair and dyed it pink. And you know red colors, they don’t really last long.

    NBN: Do you have any idea of what to style it next?

    Kim: I want to trim my hair and maybe dye it in white. That might be really weird. I think it’s really cool.

    NBN: In what way do you think your hair helps you express yourself?

    Kim: I really don’t like fitting in. I really like standing out. Dying my hair in some unique colors like white or pink, I guess I feel more special, or different from other people.

    NBN: What is your favorite part about having dyed/interesting hair?

    Kim: I don’t need to style it to look as if I’ve tried. It looks like I’ve done something on my hair. It saves time.

    Alexandria Clemons, Weinberg third-year from Los Angeles, California

    Alexandria Clemons

    Photo courtesy of Alexandria Clemons

    NBN: When did you start dying/styling your hair?

    Clemons: I started dying my hair in the eighth grade and I’ve been dying ever since.

    NBN: Why did you start to style it that way?

    Clemons: It actually has to do with my skin tone. I wanted to prove to myself that I could dye my hair any color regardless of skin tone. With darker skin tones, people tend to have a negative view on what type of hair color should be appropriate on certain skin tones, so I, like, changed the standard.

    NBN: Do you have any idea of what to style it next?

    Clemons: I’m going to go blue because I’m red right now, so I’m going to go all the way to the other side of the spectrum. It’s going to be like a dark blue.

    NBN: In what way do you think your hair helps you express yourself?

    Clemons: Being a legal studies major and being in a corporate world it’s hard to express yourself in any way, even without hair color, with business suits and stuff like that. Being an undergrad gives me a chance to be free before I have to change myself for societal norms.

    NBN: What is your favorite part about having dyed/interesting hair?

    Clemons: Everybody always asking me “How do I do it?”, and I guess I inspire people to dye their hair.


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