Why Malaysians are Less Judgemental Than Americans About Pink Hair
It was into my first 3 months of traveling and my hair was bugging! The last time I had a proper (I use that term loosely) cut and color was almost over 6 months prior during my trip to Argentina in the small town of Puerto Madryn. I never got around to cutting my hair before I left, I had split ends, and the color was looking pretty washed out and blah. I needed a new look.
It was the first time I wasn’t working in about 8 years and my previous job was pretty conservative with the dress code, so I thought it would be fun to get a little wild with my hair to express the creative freedom I was feeling. I found myself in one of Kuala Lumpur’s multi-level malls and I passed this one hair salon that looked pretty hip. The female hairstylist had an asymmetrical bob cut with inspiring highlights of blue. I knew right away she wouldn’t play it safe with my hair and that I could trust her. So I make an appointment and she has me come back in an hour.
I really didn’t know what I wanted. At first, I was thinking highlights of red with fiery highlights of copper. But then I told her to just get creative with it. She brings out some hair swatches and then we decided to get crazy with pink! I never had pink hair. This is kind of exciting! What if I hate it? It’s pink so I know it won’t be long before it eventually washes out. After a couple of hours, my hair is cut shorter and my hair is red with one big pink highlight. I take one look in the mirror and take a deep breath. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I pay the woman, walk out of the mall, and am feeling a little self-conscious about what the locals might think. I’m not sure how Malaysians react to such radical hair, but if she can have blue then I can have pink. It’s late when I get back to my guesthouse and I sleep it off.
The next morning I do a little city exploring, but a torrential downpour of rain hits and I scurry inside the closest building I could find inside of a bank. There was a little cafe open and I decide to grab some tea and wait for the rain to stop. I started looking at my hair again and began to really like it. It was bold, risky, and fun – just like how I was feeling at the moment. I’m going to rock this do! Not long after, I take a selfie of me with my new look and post it to Facebook (drum rolls). I initally thought I might get a few “meh’s” from my conservative friends but I also knew I’d get some support from my liberals. Boom! Posted.
It was only a matter of minutes before I get my first comment from a friend I’ve known for almost 10 years telling me how ridiculous I looked. At first, I thought he was being facetious and I jokingly respond back about how much I like it. Then he continues to throw some rather harsh feedback telling me that pink is for kids and that I need to change it back. Ouch! Thanks for your very blunt remarks. So I send him a private message asking him what’s up and he ripped me a new one. Yikes! Really? Well, I’m feeling expressive and this is how I’m expressing my creative mood. If you don’t like it then keep your feelings to yourself or stop being friends with me. Not long after I found out we were defriended from Facebook. WOW.
I began feeling a little self-conscious after that thinking maybe I do look ridiculous, but I like it and I know it’s only about a month before it washes away. I started observing Malaysians in stores to see if I’d be treated differently and it was quite the opposite. I actually received a couple of compliments! Why couldn’t my friend be accepting of this temporary phase of mine if this very conservative country could be? Later I checked back on my Facebook account and received an overwhelming amount of support from friends and family telling me to “do me” and forget his harsh criticism. So I did and I didn’t lose any readers like he said I would because of it.