I used to be a platinum blonde. For 10 glorious, angst-ridden months, I had hair that shone like moonlight (on a good day); the color of a newborn lamb (for the most part). It all began because 1) Khaleesi, and 2) Last year, the iconic hairstylist Oribe told me, “Dahhhling, you simply must be platinum at some point in your life. Just for a moment,” and 3) I love flirting with lady danger when it comes to hair. As I tell my mom: hey, at least it’s not drugs. Or stick-and-poke tattoos.
During those months, I felt like, pardon the expression, a hot piece of ass. My best friend Rochelle said, with one look, “This is the best decision you’ve ever made.” I would wear my same black jeans, sneakers, and a black top, but my hair made the whole thing pop. It was the perfect accessory.
Everyone had told me that the maintenance would be hard. In July, amidst 3 inches of regrowth and questionable tone following a weekend at the beach, I was faced with a choice: continue, or go back to my roots. I thought the process of going back would be much easier to do than going platinum, and that I would feel much the same as I had before (after all, I’d lived happily as a brunette for the better part of 28 years). I was wrong on both counts. My feelings can best be described through this “Letter of Empathy” that one reader, Officially Trace, sent me upon catching wind of my plight via Instagram:
Letter of Empathy to Emily Weiss Concerning the Recent Crisis of Hair
I imagine you’re in a dark, muddy, frazzled place right now, and your spirits aren’t high either. I am a fellow brunette who recently went platinum and only recently fully recovered. This was my journey, but I imagine it might be yours too:
You remember the reasons you wanted to dye it back. You know it’s not sustainable.
Every morning, fractions of roots tell you you can only have this for a moment. You’re in constant flux.
You look in the mirror and see only a cloud around your head. You want to see your face again. You don’t want only to be ‘platinum girl’. This is not your only feature.
So you begin to dye it back. It’s mud. It’s mud with streaks of straw churned in.
Now you’re devastated.
You miss being a bad bitch. You miss feeling aflame.
You miss the stares-- not just looks of admiration; you’re used to those. You know what those look like. These looks were different. You had never seen these before. It was beyond admiration or recognition. It was a primal, instinctual function of the eye to seek the brightness around you. You carried a pale fire around your face.
And now you are no one.
The thing is, you never felt like no-one before as a brunette. You were proud of your glossy depths and your sharp cut. But now, light extinguished, you feel like you’ve receded past your former natural status into a no-one you never were before. You’re worse than brunette - you’re invisible.
You killed it. And you’ll never have it again.
You scroll through the internet and your phone at all your blonde pictures. You start to read all the comments and wince with every compliment. Why did you do it, they ask. Why did I do it, you ask?
You look in the mirror and see ashes where once was flame.
You feel like everyone and no-one. You feel like like a wannabe fourteen-year-old blogger who begged her mom for ombre for her birthday. You feel like an eighties hooker. You feel like Bruce Jenner.
You look like Bruce Jenner, it’s true. But only because you’re wearing a Depression Tracksuit, scrolling through pictures of your beautiful past days, trying to think of ways to avoid the Kardashians.
Soon you will clear your history, rake some coconut oil through your hair, pull it back, slam some biotin, and breathe. Platinum days are behind you, but there is still light ahead.
You are the phoenix. You are the changeling. You will be beautiful again.
Enjoy the (double) process and the journey home.
With sincere sympathy and best wishes,
PS Thanks for liking my Instagram.
I read the letter aloud to Tracey Cunningham, the brunette queen (Lily Aldridge, J.Lo, etc etc), from the chair in which I sat at Redken, during our second session together on my journey home. All in, it took us—and we are talking about, quite literally, the most famous colorist in the world—two days and some 8 hours to bring me back to something good.
The texture is still questionable. That raw, roughed-up hair shaft that makes platinum blondes look cool à la Debbie Harry makes brunettes look like, well, Bruce Jenner. Of course, my hair cut (or lack thereof) at the moment doesn't help. BUT! Guess what?
IT'S JUST HAIR.
And though it's not great at the moment, I'll be fine. In fact, it's been nice laying low and spending more time on friendships, meditation, last-days-of-summer rosé sipping, and new projects than on booking salon appointments. All of that said: big ups to Aura Friedman and Ms. Cunningham for being the best in the biz and for knowing that every so often, it's fun to slip into another identity for a while.
Emily Weiss, wearing Altuzarra, photographed by Tom Newton on August 20th, 2014 in New York City.