I Let My 9-Year-Old Dye Her Hair

Rebecca's daughter, Rowan

Rebecca’s daughter, Rowan

My daughter and her new punk red dyed hair went to school for the start of grade five last week. Yes, I “allowed” my daughter, who asked to dye her hair punk red, to do it. I took her to the salon. This dye was not a spray dye. It was serious. I’m talking bleaching the ends of her dark brown hair first and then applying the punk red dye. We were in the salon for about two hours.

My 9-year-old daughter is an interesting character to say the least. I love her because she is so…dramatic. Before school started, when she started talking about her hair, she dropped to the ground of our home like she had fainted and cried out, “MY HAIR NEEDS TO BE CREATIVE.” She didn’t say this in a demanding way. She literally meant it, as if she didn’t get it done she would explode with frustration. She continued, “I have to wear a uniform, so how else can I show my creativity but with my hair?!”

It’s true. At her school, she’s not even allowed to wear nail polish so I was a little worried about dying her hair punk red. We compromised that she could only get the front couple inches dyed. I read the school code of conduct and, like always, I rarely read the fine print. But I didn’t SEE anything that said, “NO HAIR DYED PUNK RED!” I thought, if worst comes to worst and I got a call sending her home because of her hair, I’ll just get her hair cut shorter or dyed back to its original color.

My daughter has always been fashion forward. Yes, of course, there was the period of dressing in a flowered skirt with polka dot leggings and a striped shirt. But she has always “done” her own thing. For example, last year she was really, really into hats and caps. She wore them all year every day. She has a collection of them. Or she’d accessorized every outfit with a scarf. She started wearing leg warmers before everyone else in her class, and knee-high socks with skirts and motorcycle boots when not in school. Last year, when she wanted her hair cut in a bob, we had it done. Two days later, half her class had the same style hair. She picked out a pair of flowered Doc Martens months before everyone else started wearing them. She just seems to KNOW what she wants to wear and always has.

But back to the hairdresser, who I asked if the dye was going to ruin her hair.

“No it’s just like you dying your hair. Hair grows six inches a year, and these are just the ends. I have done a lot of young girls.”

Of course I then asked, “So we can turn it back to brown if she gets kicked out of school because she’s nine and has punk red hair?”

No problem, he said.

My daughter went off to school and I waited all day for the phone call, “COME GET YOUR DAUGHTER NOW! WHAT A BAD INFLUENCE SHE IS!” But the call never came! In fact, a number of teachers complimented her hair and my daughter told me that kids were “whispering” about her hair in her classroom all day. A grade eight student even told her that she loved her hair.

One mother who saw me drop her off said, “Great. Now my daughter is going to want to get her hair dyed.” She called me later that night and said, “I told you. My daughter asked if she could dye her hair blue.”

Not my problem. Most mothers at her school, I know, would NOT allow their daughters to do this. But like I told my daughter, “It’s your hair,” which I believe to be true. It is HER hair and she’s turning 10 in a month, so she kind of knows what she wants.

The only people who didn’t “get” it were my parents – then again they didn’t agree with my belly button piercing when I was 15 either.

Someone else did ask me, “What’s next? Tattoos?” No. There’s a difference between getting a tattoo and dying your hair. My daughter is well aware that I hate tattoos – even though I have two (Yeah, thanks rock star who I dated for years for the music note on my ass!) Hair grows. Tattoos are pretty much forever.

I will admit that my daughter did originally ask for the Miley Cyrus hair cut, shaved on one side and long on the other, and I said absolutely, “NO!” to that, even though she loved that style. I figure if I let her get all her “creativity” out NOW when it comes to her hair, then later in life she’ll have it out of her system. What can I say except  that it’s just hair, and it’s not mine. I just wish the assistant hair stylist didn’t say to her, “It gets addictive!”

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You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • Annona

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting children express themselves through their appearance. Maybe since you let her do this and were supportive of her need for creative hair, she won’t be standing in her best friends bathroom trying to bleach her hair with clorox and dye it green with kool aid when she’s 13 like I was. :) It really is just hair and it really does grow back.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      wait, are you ME? Because mine was sun in and kool aid, so I had mermaid hair

    • Annona

      I did Sun In first, but I have really dark hair so all it did was make it faintly red…and I wanted GREEEEEEN!

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      Sun in on my hair was more like a whisper at a deathmetal concert.

      I used to use my Mom’s facial hair bleach and rocked some really awful orange bangs for a month.

      And then I moved on to a crapload of rainbow colours over the years… professionally and definitely-not-professionally done.

    • Tea

      Guilty. Except it was food coloring and purple.

      Oh! And four weeks before my dad’s wedding.

    • Michelle Pittman

      ahahahaha…i remember the good old Manic Panic…i remember rocking way cool eggplant purple highlights…and i may have recently wished i was in my late teens or early 20s without a “real” job when the really cute bright color dye jobs came back in style recently since i have ridiculously long hair…great…i’m officially jealous of a 9 year old…

    • Annona

      Yep. I have had eggplant, red, green, blue, orange…and many variations of the Manic Panic rainbow. Damn I miss the 90s. I also rocked the long hair with shaved sides look. Miley is just bringing it back.

    • Amber Starr

      Haha! I remember once, when I was 18, I was banned from Easterfestivities because I had bleached my hair white and then used Manic Panic to dye it hot pink. Boy, was my mom PISSED.

    • Cee

      Awww man, I missed out on this! Ive always wanted a purple little streak somewhere. Well, maybe I could do it now…with less sugar.

  • Aldonza

    And? You let your kid dye her hair. Cool. So? Is this really a controversial thing? My brother died his hair all the time when he was younger, an I dyed by hair blue around the same age as your daughter, it’s not really a thing anyone gets upset about.

    • CMJ

      You’d be surprised what people get sanctimonious about.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      That’s nice for you, but that reaction certainly isn’t universal. In my neighborhood a kid dying their hair that young would be met with a wall of sanctimommies whispering behind your back. I don’t think there is anything that crazy about it, but it can definitely be controversial.

    • Aldonza

      Wow, maybe it was being a kid in the 90s, the kids with dyed hair outnumber the ones without it. And most of the teachers I know have pretty funky hair, but it is theatre school, so it tends to be more…liberal…

    • Cee

      Yea, at one of my schools, my kid got the optimus prime’s face shaved into the back of his head and nobody cared. It really isn’t a big deal here in Los Angelesish area, but I hear there are places where they are incredibly judgey about this.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      That sounds awesome, Optimus Prime is the best. LOL

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Umm, brb getting optimus prime shaved in the back of MY head

  • Rachel Sea

    I think her hair looks good, I don’t see a problem with it.

  • MsBorgia

    I’m so jealous of her hair!! Your 9-year-old has better style than I do!!!

  • keelhaulrose

    I like her hair!
    And it is just hair. It’s really easy to change. Tattoos? Nope, you’re stuck with those forever. But a bad dye job is just a cover-up away from never being seen again.
    And I have dyed my hair “punk” colors for over a decade. The stuff doesn’t stick along too long anyways. If you want it gone quicker and are afraid of dying it again, use non-color safe shampoo. It’ll last a month, if that.

    • Rachel Sea

      True story. Suave strips hair dye like nothing else – in fact I keep a bottle around just to clean dye off my skin when I make a mess. I use salon dye for my wife’s purple hair, and it requires careful mixing and layering of color to get it to last for 8 weeks.

    • keelhaulrose

      I used Suave when the blue dye I used faded within two days to gray. And not ‘cool, silver-like’ gray, like ‘hey, grandma!’ gray with that weird tinge of blue, and I didn’t have the money to get a new dye job for a month.

  • Alanna Jorgensen

    I’m pretty big on kids being happy with their hair. They get so little control in the rest of their lives and hair styles are temporary. I was pretty irritated when my stepson’s mother forced him to cut his hair against his wishes when she had him this weekend just because SHE didn’t like it longer (we’re the custodial house, so she could have at least run it past his dad first). Every time he goes to his grandpa’s it gets chopped, too. I guess I don’t understand the obsession with little boys needing their hair super short.

    • Allyson_et_al

      My son had very long (past shoulder length) hair when he was 7. My dad’s wife didn’t understand why I wouldn’t “make” him get it cut. Like, drag him to the barber and hold him down. Just because she didn’t like it. I don’t get it either.

    • Annona

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. My cousin’s little boy had the most beautiful long curly hair and they left it for several years because he really didn’t want it cut, and you’d have thought they were beating him or forcing him to wear dresses the way my family carried on about it. Once he reached a certain age, the conformity bug bit him and he demanded a short haircut like the rest of the boys in his preschool, and that was that.

  • Emmali Lucia

    When I was about ten or eleven I dyed my hair purple. It was awesome. Then I dyed it blue, then it was black forever, Then it was this weird half blonde half brown, then it was super red forever. Now it’s back to it’s natural colour, and I think it’s going to stay that way for a while

  • Emil

    I would not have any problem with my daughter dying her hair provided that she pays for it herself. I think it looks great.

  • Andy

    I think her hair looks cute. I didn’t do anything to my hair all through junior high and high school-I grew up in a small Texas town, where ‘nice girls’ didn’t do that kind of thing. Flash forward to college, and I came home my first Thanksgiving break with bright red hair with orange streaks, piercings up my ears, wearing a crop top, low cut jeans and Doc Martens. My dad almost burst a blood vessel, but my mom liked it-she had been a hippie back in the day and had spent my high school years urging me to enjoy my youth and stop dressing like a Ralph Lauren/Ann Taylor ad :P

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I think hair is a reasonable creative outlet for self expression. It grows fast enough and so long as it’s not overly drastic, it can be corrected quickly if it goes wrong.

  • Helen Hyde

    Super cute! I love it!

  • Blahblah

    Her school doesn’t even allow nail polish!?!? Why? I guess I don’t understand that.

    My mother let me dye my hair purple in eighth grade. It turned out horribly. But, she’s let me chop it, braid it, grow it out, dye it whatever the hell color I wanted. Because it’s my hair, my head, and I have to go out in public with it.

    In her words “Well, if I don’t like it I can always walk really far ahead of you in the store and no one has to know you’re mine. It’s stuck on your head.” (She never really did that.)

  • Jackie

    I know lots of moms who let their kids dye their hair. So much to your disappointment I don’t think this post will be that controversial. ;) Nor does this make so much cooler than the average mom.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    I’ve had my hair three different colours in teh last six weeks, I absolutely love dying my hair!

  • Ginny

    It does get addictive. My friend dies her hair three different colours at least every weak. She’s running out of dyes to mix together.

  • Allyson_et_al

    My twelve-year-old wants to dye her hair aubergine. I said yes.

  • Justme

    I was never, EVER allowed to dye my hair growing up. My mother always told me that my natural hair color was the color God gave me and I didn’t want to tell God he had messed up by coloring my hair something different, did I? Needless to say, I was 24 before I colored my hair. A little Catholic guilt goes a LONG way.

    Now as a mother, I understand where she was coming from – she looked at me and saw a perfect, beautiful girl who didn’t need anything “artificial” to be any prettier than I already was. I feel the same way about my daughter and her looks – she is gorgeous just the way she is.

    Luckily she’s only 2.5 so I don’t really have to worry about hair color frustrations right now…I’m just happy if I can convince her to let me brush her hair in the mornings.

  • kimberly

    My mom allowed the same with me and I stayed a pretty good girl throughout my life *in my own way :)*. I definitely appreciated the chance to get that out of my system without having to revolt or go through a phase. I was just allowed to be me. kudos mom. She will respect, love and appreciate you all the more for supporting her. And the complainy mom? Tell her to get over herself.

  • piikkii

    My four-year-old spent six months asking for purple hair and eventually I figured what reason is there *not* to dye her hair purple? So now I have a four year old with magenta (was purple) hair who is super easy to locate at the park. I don’t know what the other moms are saying behind my back, but old people on the bus really love it.

  • Chris Whitley

    She’s 9 years old! Get a freaking grip!

  • Wolfie

    You are a amazing parent, your daughter seems so amazing too. It feels good to know that there is more people being themselves than being cookie cuter robots. You go!

  • Jim King

    I really feel sorry for your kids. You are fucking them up in ways they won’t be aware of for years.

  • Heather

    The title of this article should be “Hey do you know how cool I am? My daughter is so cool too!” I’m sure Anna Wintour is chasing you both. You are so kraazzyy and wyyyllde for letting your daughter do something everyone else does. She wears hats??? That’s so on the edge!!!

  • Your boo <3

    Im 11 and cant even dye my hair …. . But honestly i think 9 is tooo young. When she’s 13 she’s gonna ask for face piercings and im guessing you’ll let her .

  • Alexa

    Can you please tell my mum this? I’m 12 and she won’t let me. Although, that might be because I want to dye my whole head Atlantic Blue.

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