Women who have coloured their hair talk about the way they are perceived

Feb 18, 2018, 08:41 IST | Anju Maskeri

And other stories by women who've coloured their hair and noticed a change in not just the way they're perceived, but what they feel about themselves

Pooja Bhatt

Does the colour of a woman's hair affect not just how the world perceives her but also how she feels about herself? When a journalist underwent a five-weeks-five-colours experiment for UK tabloid The Sun, she encountered creepy stares for her platinum blonde locks and complete disapproval from her cat when she dyed herself pink. Her own perception changed from younger to vixen to sophisticated as the hair became darker. But, how does it play out in Mumbai? We asked five women who've been there, dyed that.

Pooja Bhat, filmmaker
Colour code: Sexy magenta
Two years ago on Christmas day, filmmaker Pooja Bhatt decided to do something drastic. She dyed her hair a deep turquoise. After the dye job, when Bhat caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she let out a gasp. "I resembled a spunky smurf," she jokes. What it also did was made her feel 19 at the age of 44. By then, Bhat had also pulled the plug on her alcohol addiction and promised to be the best version of herself. "Sometimes, it's important to throw the old you out of a window and reclaim your life," she says. On the 24th of this month, she turns 46 and has come a long way from her turquoise mane. She now sports a shade of 'sexy magenta'. "It's my current state of being," she says with flair. In fact, Bhat admits her father, director Mahesh Bhat, was initially mortified with the pink but has now made peace with it. "[Actor] Sanjay Dutt hated my turquoise hair back then," she adds. The criticism, however, hasn't dampened her spirit. "We live in a cold, dreary world, so let's add some colour to it."

Aarya Thackeray

Aarya Thackeray, law student
Colour code: Lilac with peacock hues
Aarya Thackeray has changed her hair colour four times in the last three years. She started with magenta, moved to fuschia pink, then fiery red and, now, it's a shade of lilac. "Each colour made me feel different. While I felt sassy with pink, red made me feel more mature. Lilac has a sophisticated vibe to it," she says. While all colours felt liberating in their own way, Thackeray admits it has been restricting when it came to outfits. "I had to ensure that shades don't clash with my hair. I would mostly stick to blacks and whites," she says. Being a law student also meant making rounds of law firms, where she was expected to look a certain way. "If I'm going to a formal space, I normally tie it up in a net so that people don't get distracted. It's also not considered appropriate." The colour that invited most judgment was blue. "While women love it, I've had a few boys tell me why I didn't choose red. I tell them, 'hey that shouldn't be a concern'."

Kanika Khetan

Kanika Khetan, jewellery designer
Colour code: Blonde with red tips
Among her peers, Kanika Khetan is identified as the girl with tattoos, piercings and outlandish hair. "The hair complements my identity. Each time I'm low and my hair colour is fading, I go get it dyed and I feel renewed again," she says. It's been five years, since Khetan last saw her original black hair. Since then, she has dyed the entire length with colours. "You need to really take care of your hair because chemicals tend to damage it. So I go for a hair spa every two months," she says. Khetan often has random strangers walking up to her to compliment her. "Sometimes, they take my stylist's number too. They mostly opt for safer colours. I think it takes a certain madness to opt for crazy hues."

Tanisha Serrao

Tanisha Serrao, singer-songwriter
Colour code: Electric blue
Nineteen-year-old Tanisha Serrao often has girls come to her in college and say, 'We thought you were a b*&%^ but you're nice'. "I find it funny because they have jumped to this conclusion based on my tresses. Your hair speaks for you, even when you don't say a thing," she says. Serrao has electric blue locks. It's a decision that her close ones were fully supportive of. But the first time she coloured it, she felt "disgusted". "I had just graduated from school, and in my excitement I chose a shade of brown that didn't reflect my personality. Your hair should be fun and look true to your style," she says. After four years, Serrao chose blue. "It's creative, daring and individualistic. It's me."

Ritika Varshney

Ritika Varshney, artist
Colour code: Silver grey
Artist Ritika Varshney is used to the stares. The 26-year-old sports silver-grey panels making her look like the Indian counterpart of Rogue, the mutant from Marvel Comics' X-Men series. "Everybody has a certain indulgence. For me, it's hair colour," says Varshney, who gifted herself a dye job on her birthday last November. While the hair unfailingly evokes reactions from everyone, the most baffling ones come from middle-aged women, she says. "They want to know why on earth, I opted for grey when they spend thousands dying it black," she laughs. The first time she coloured her hair was a flaming red at the edges when she was 17 years old. "It was a safe choice, but the morning after I went grey, I got a start when I caught a glimpse of my reflection. That was the only moment I thought: 'my goodness, I need to live with this colour for a while'. Now, I love it when I stand out in a crowd," she says.

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