Why I dyed My hair Blue

Noa Schisterman, Jewish Day '18

I'm proud of how I have changed and who I have become. I wanted to make it show. (Published: 2017)

Image: Schisterman displays her new hair color in school. The blue represents individualism and internal change.

Just a mere hour and a half after I had awkwardly posed for my senior portraits, I hopped in an Uber heading steadfast towards a hair salon that the internet had promised me was trustworthy. I sat down in an excessively entertaining spinning chair, put on a surprisingly heavy smock and let the stranger behind me get to work. Five hours later, with the entire salon watching and providing their own invaluable commentary, I walked out of the salon unrecognizable. My hair was perfectly straightened, a tragedy according to my mother, and more noticeably, it was blue.

Why blue, you ask? Well, I would love to tell you that it was a symbol of my mixed identity. As the only color shared by the American, Israeli and Argentinian flags alike, I felt it was the only way to express the blending of cultures and nationalities that make up who I am. I might also tell you that I chose blue, or more specifically, turquoise, as a reminder of the blinding turquoise splattered across the walls of the Majdanek gas chambers I visited in Poland. It is a way for me to ensure that I remember all that I saw and carry it with me everywhere I go, that I use that experience as the foundation of my Jewish identity, and that I appreciate how far the Jewish people have come since the horrors of the Holocaust. All that, however, would be assuming that I actually came out of my trip to Poland with a stronger sense of Jewish empowerment. That after completely breaking down, I thought to myself, “Wow. Now I know what it means to be Jewish. Now I understand how amazing it is that we are still standing.” That would be great, but no. After my trip to Poland I was a complete mess. I couldn’t even look at the color that my hair now is without tearing up, I began to doubt everything that made up my Jewish identity and I lost faith in pretty much everything. I was broken.

So back to the initial question; Why did I choose blue? Maybe I just like it. Maybe blue just somehow felt right. Some inner part of me decided that having blue hair was a more accurate way to express myself than any other color. I guess that’s the answer, really. I just wanted to express myself, and for whatever reason, blue hair felt like the way to do that.

It was a little over two years ago that I discovered who I was. I went on a trip to Israel and came back feeling like a completely different person. In the span of a month, I gained a complete sense of self. I suddenly knew exactly who I was, and I wanted nothing more than to express that. Being true to myself has always been important to me. Once I came back to school however, it was as if nothing had changed. I started to go a little bit insane. I had had a life changing experience and felt like a revitalized person, and yet my life felt exactly the same. I woke up every day, walked into school, talked to the same people, sat in the same classrooms, went home, did the same type of work, went to sleep, and then repeated the whole process. I became excruciatingly bored with my life. It felt like I was just droning on, day by day falling into an almost robotic existence of school, work and sleep. I was learning different things, dealing with different drama, and having different conversations, but everything just blended together in a haze of triviality. Then the next summer I went to Poland, and the same thing happened all over again. I spent five weeks exploring the depths of my identity and the inner workings of what made me who I am, and then I came back home and everything was, once again, the same. I needed a change. I needed some sort of way to mark the change I had gone through and who it was that I had become. I needed to express that I am and always will be unforgivingly myself. So I hopped in an Uber heading steadfast towards that salon, and I dyed my hair blue.