Question: Dear Luise: I have just had a rather strange experience. I changed my hair color for the first time in about forty years. It’s a pretty dramatic change but no one says a word. I can’t help but wonder why that is? It’s the color it was when I wasn’t gray, not green or purple or anything disgusting. People talk to me, looking right at me, and ignore it. What’s that about? Sue
Answer: Dear Sue: Surprise. It’s about being surprised and not knowing what to make of it or what to say. They liked the way you were before.
I did that once and the only person who commented on it told me not to worry because it would grow out. After that, I was the one who didn’t know what to say.
People get used to your looking a certain way and often don’t know how to handle it when you turn up looking like someone else. They don’t want to say the wrong thing, so they try to pretend nothing’s happened.
Your identity is often tied up with how you look. A radical change is hard for some to accept until they get used to it and can put you back together again, conceptually.
If there are any more people you are going to be seeing for the first time, help them out by patting your hair and saying something like ”well, I did it. It’s not quite what I had in mind but it’s close. What do you think?” Then, give them a minute. Your remark will give them some time to do a double take. Especially if it doesn’t look quite right to them either. Bet on it, no matter what they say…it will take a while for all but the most adventurous.
And here’s a funny phenomenon, if and when you change it back to the way it was before, they’ll react the same way and not like that because they’ve gotten used to the new you and it’s now become the old you. See how that works? Then the old new you is preferred over the new old you. Aren’t we funny creatures? Blessings, Luise