My hair journey began in middle school — a time of Silly Bandz, chocolate milk in plastic bags, and square pizza. As a Chinese-American preteen in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood, I desperately wanted to look and act like my white classmates. I was tired of being stereotyped as the uncool Chinese girl who sat quietly in the corner of the classroom and aced her math tests. After thorough research on Google and Pinterest, I decided that my ticket into the cool kids’ club was dyeing my pitch-black hair the most trendy hairstyle of the 2000s: ombré.

Unfortunately, my new hairstyle didn’t solve my preteen identity crisis. Rather than becoming “cool” among the white kids, I looked too Caucasian to hang out with the Asian kids, but still too Asian to hang out with the white kids. My Chinese friends began to refer to me as “whitewashed,” and I felt increasingly isolated from the Asian community. I promised my thirteen year old self that I would never, ever dye my hair again.

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