Dear Stranger…

Since I delayed in the post allow me to set it up in the proper time frame. This past weekend after my husband got out of work I decided to surprise him with getting his Father’s Day present a day early which involved going to Target. Now, I should mention we rarely shop at Target for several reasons that aren’t important for this post, but the machine was there so, despite my husband’s protests of me dragging him to a store, we went. Needless to say after we got his present- which was a French Press coffee maker- his tone drastically changed and we browsed the aisles a bit and ended up with a few more things before checking out. While we waited, I heard a few children a couple of checkouts over go into the usual childlike wonder at my current hair color which caused me to smile and I turned my attention munchkin where he sat in the cart looking at the stuff we had bought. After we leave and are home a few my husband turns to me, noting a few looks I had overlooked while I was talking to munchkin about the things in the cart. I look perplexed for a moment, so he reminds me we are far from normal- we’re both in our mid-twenties with  a three year old, and in my case- which has been confirmed by an insane amount of strangers- I look younger. The biggest guilty party of the depth of dislike and unwelcome he described, though was the hair, mine being the blue it is and his falling to about mid-back. Now- looks and some glares are no strange thing to me since going outta the box in regards to my hair, but given that my husband took it on himself to silently tell the guilty party here that her glare wasn’t welcome drove it to a new level since it showed that it was enough to bother him, and he gives about ten thousand less cares about what other people think and actually encourages me to do the same. And while I usually try to simply ignore things, this incident as well as a few others prompted this response:

Dear stranger,

You know me. I’m the one that sticks out like a sore thumb in a crowd if only due to one fact of my appearance- my hair. I’m the one that you just spent the entire wait in line giving a death stare to and sending silent messages that generally boil down to unwelcome before moving onto my husband. You don’t know me though, just as I don’t know you- not the true me or you anyway. Since you will never give me the chance to tell you- why don’t I do it now. Yes, my hair is blue- it might not be to your tastes, but it is to mine. There is no reason for you to make me feel unwelcome, or try to because of that fact. I don’t make you feel unwelcome, or at least try not to because your hair is a shade of my natural color, brown and I happen to dislike that color on me.  Besides taste, there is another reason my hair is blue and that is because very recently I managed to overcome my self-esteem issues and start doing things for me and not what the popular opinion wants. I dyed my hair since high school at various times, but because of this was always too afraid to try the wild colors. This re-found ability enables me to brush off most of the stares, but doesn’t make me immune to them by any means and especially not the harsh ones like you gave today. But that stare will never allow you to know this about me because of simply closing your mind due to appearances.

You will also never know though we look young, my husband and I have been together for 7 and a 1/2 years, almost been married a whole year and have been through hell and back, even more than some- as we joke, we’re only waiting for the richer part of the marriage vows. I’m trying to keep in mind that you would never know this without asking or really taking in the rings on my left hand, but I wonder if the wrinkled nose, like something that smelled rotten was underneath it, was really needed. Chances are it wasn’t.

Yes, everyone at some point does the judging stare in various degrees, the only thing separating one from another is the intention of the stare. They can range from simply taking in and casting silent judgements to trying to drive away as you were. It only partly worked, it was enough to make us feel unwelcome but not enough to make us simply drop everything and go away. We all have our own preferences painted by our own internal styles or what is shown out there in the world (ex. Media coverage or reality tv shows), but it doesn’t make driving away based on that any more right or any less hurtful. So, next time you see someone who might not look like everyone else, who has something about them that might stand out whether it’s hair or something- think twice about what message that stare might deliver because even the toughest people can crack and you might not know their whole story.

_____________________________________________________________________

Note: I wrote this with the thought that for good or bad or right or wrong, we all cast judgements, you only need to go the nearest high school to really see it. The main thing is being on the receiving end of the judgements like the one my husband and I experienced and what that cuts off because such a judgement is cast and if people should be judged that way for things like blue hair. If you comment keep comments along these lines and not how right or wrong or anything like that such judgements are, all that is, is a can of worms and leads to just comments being combed since I don’t think anyone will agree anytime soon on it sadly.

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