Dyeing Discrimination: Hairsperiences in Malaysia

Having Brightly Colored Hair (or ‘BCH’, cause I ain’t typing it out repeatedly!) is having a hair colour that one does not naturally have. Usually drastically different from that of the masses and often elicits attention.

Being in the BCH Club looks cool and everyone stares as you walk past, and you know your hair has done a good job at amazing the general public. You feel great, special, even. After all, the BCH Club is not-so naturally exclusive, either you have BCH or you don’t. Though what many people fail to realise is that, as a social establishment, the BCH Club is prone to discrimination.

UNMC has its fair share of dyed darlings and for this article, join P and I – both self-proclaimed hair dye experts – as we explore the social issues with having BCH.

Our Hairsperience

In the best-looking mint green hair that everyone absolutely adores, P’s hairsperience started after SPM. Bleaching her hair on her own (an acquired talent), she shares that bleaching does hurt, depending on how close you get to your scalp.

Talking a little more on the topics of hair, we realised we shared a lot in common – like washing our hair with hot water, first, then in cold water. We also mourn dramatically as fluorescent-coloured soap bubbles wash into the drain – much like your hair on its period.

From left: Emoji #1, Emoji #2 and foetus Andrew

Color me confused… and slightly mad

P shared her experience of getting told off – reason being her coloured hair. She was at a social gathering when a lady stopped her and asked which school she came from. When P mentioned the name of the prestigious school in which she attended, and the lady dismissed her by saying that girls like ‘this’ (referring to her hair) wouldn’t come from such a school.

I had my fair share of hairsperiences too – having had someone once indirectly mention that I must’ve come from a bad familial upbringing, because my hair was bright blue.

P revealed to me how our society views the hairs that grow on our scalp. She said how everyone thought she was brave just because she was willing to cut and bleach her hair. She doesn’t consider it a bold act, because hair grows back anyways.

Our society has come to associate naturally-coloured hair with good behaviour and BCH with society’s trash. I have had many friends share with me their experiences of being scolded by their high school teachers because their hair colour was not natural (read as: black). How does one come to associate hair colour to a person’s character anyway? Just because one has black hair, they’re automatically prim and proper individuals? And if they have purple hair, they’re suddenly rebellious and supposedly sleeping around with everyone?

What sort of logical relation is there between a colour and a person’s character? And how has one colour become superior over another colour? Changing my hair colour does NOT change my personality overnight. Having an unnatural hair colour does NOT determine my character or conduct. I constantly remember the words of my discipline teacher back in high school:

 Pink is just another color, like black, orange, …

Taken from: Buzzfeed

Why should I care?

Let me put it straight – yes, this is a ‘first-world problem’ and unlike other ethnic or cultural issues, you can change your hair colour. But what I hope to shine light on is how WE as a society so easily judge people on physical appearances – especially something so impermanent like hair colour.

What more, on the things that we can’t change.

We’re not here advocating that everyone bleaches their hair immediately, nor is this some sort of outcry against the injustice of those with BCH. Though we do hope everyone can learn to cherish themselves more. Whether it be virgin hair, coloured hair, BRIGHTLY coloured hair, it’s just hair – strands of keratin. Let’s be like people in animes, receptive of your own hair colour, and those of others – because we’re all main characters.

To wrap it all up, here’s an article on how American media has portrayed East Asian Women as rebellious, through (you guessed it!) BCH.

 

By Andrew Ng

 

Ratchet pharmacist and local fashion slut.

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