It’ll grow back, by Deb Katie

Writing fiction is all about living vicariously. When you create a character, you get to see through someone else’s eyes, think through someone else’s brain. When I’m bored, I just check out and put myself in a character’s mindset for a while. Being “elsewhere”–or “elsewhom”–becomes second nature.

Maybe this is why I’m not one of those people with a defined personal style. I’m all about contradictions. I’ll wear pretty much anything, often to the chagrin of my more fashion-oriented friends—but I can be terribly picky when I feel like it. In decorating, I like clean modern lines but also cozy charm. I like soothing monotones and pops of color.

Nowhere is this aesthetic restlessness more apparent than in my hair.

I’ve always had pretty plain brown hair. I went through the disastrous perms and layers of middle school, like everybody else in the universe, but for the most part, it was straight and brown all the way. My prom hairstyles consisted of the following: Wash. Airdry. Brush. Go to prom.

But a few years ago, things changed.

I noticed little white hairs sprouting from my temples, on both sides of my head. Inexplicably, I got a kick out of them. They were funny, until—

Until the day I mentioned them to a co-worker.

“I just get these funny white hairs,” I said, pointing to them.

“Honey,” she said, “We call that gray hair.”

No. Way.

White hairs are comedic! Gray hair is not, it turns out.

So I immediately did the appropriate Los Angeles thing:

I went blonde. Not totally blonde—I got highlights. But the thing about highlights is that you can’t just get highlights and be done with it. Before long, you need more highlights. And more. And more. And before you know it, you’re just the girl with the long blonde hair. (And no, it honestly never occurred to me just to cover it up with my natural hair color.)

I’d been blonde for a year and a half when my inner brunette reared up and refused to be contained. In one fell swoop, I went from long blonde hair to short brown hair. I loved it. Instantly, I felt like myself again.


It wasn’t long after that I grew bored. Tired of walking around in my own skin, or my own hair, as it were. I’d been long blonde, short brown, and long brown. I decided to cut bangs. And then I decided to go long and layered, which is the look I’m sporting in my author photos. And then I went medium-length and layered. And then I went chin-length and layered. And then… well, right now there’s not really any length to layer.

It occurred to me a while ago that I am that person, the woman who has a new hairstyle every time you see her. This must be especially confusing for the people I work with who see me every three months, like clockwork, and have to process a new hairdo every single time.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with myself. It’s not that I’m trying to be something I’m not. It’s not even that I’m trying to figure out who I am.

I guess that in my hair, as well as in my writing, I’ve gotten used to being someone else for a while. So when I’m done with that look (or book), I move on to the next “someone else.”

I wonder what will happen as I get closer to the release date of Bad Girls Don’t Die… because Alexis’s hair is pink.

~ Deb Katie Alender

15 Replies to “It’ll grow back, by Deb Katie”

  1. I love the hairdos! My character has wacky hair, too, and I live vicariously through her. I’ve actually never dyed my hair, but maybe I’ll have to for the book tour!

  2. I love the hair stories. I like how you make sense out of it, too. I have an m.o. in which major hair changes often are a prelude to major life changes for me. Only thing is, I never realize it as it’s happening! At least you seem to know why you do what you do. Love the picture by the way.

  3. Hey, all! Sorry the post wasn’t allowing comments earlier… weird.

    Tiffany, never bored… at least for the first month or so! 😉

    Meredith, that’s a growing trend, authors dressing up as their characters at festivals. At least people would know who we were. Or… they’d think we were the crazy ladies with the crazy hair and stay away from us.

    Jenny, I love that idea! “The evolution of the author’s hair…”

    Eve, isn’t that funny? We settle into our own patterns without even realizing that we’re slaves to our subconscious routines. Like when I think Winston has learned something new, and I realize that he’s actually trained ME to do something the way HE wants it done. I always think I’m so smart… until catch on.

  4. My life has been an endless cycle of growing hair out, cutting it short and then growing it out again. Like you I am a reformed highlighter and have gone back to my natural brown. Well, natural in that is the color it used to be minus those charming “white” hairs.

  5. My life has been an endless cycle of growing hair out, cutting it short and then growing it out again. Like you I am a reformed highlighter and have gone back to my natural brown. Well, natural in that is the color it used to be minus those charming “white” hairs.

  6. Having seen the picture of your latest transformation, Katie, could you please describe how this short style makes you feel? Absolutely fascinating and brave to keep changing OR evolving? 😉

  7. Larramie, you know, I really love my new short hairstyle. I think partly because it’s pretty easy, and I hate spending any time on my hair, but also because I’ve secretly wanted very short hair for a lot of years. I didn’t think I could pull it off, but making the drastic change was really fun for me, and as an added bonus I think it looks okay, LOL.

    I think everyone can agree that some haircuts feel more “right” than others, and this one feels very right for me. Certainly more right than the “Here comes Katie’s hair!” look in the photo up top. When I had long blonde hair, I felt like people were noticing my hair and basing an entire personality profile on my looks. Not to say the same isn’t true with a more “severe” style like I have now, but the conclusions most people would draw based on this look are much closer to my actual personality than some of the old styles.

    Or maybe I’m just overthinking things… who, me?

  8. I think pink hair would look fabulous on you. And, I have hair envy!

    I went reddish-blonde for a while, too. (Not highlights, just straight-up color.) Then my own inner brunette came back to life and I went short and brunette again, and the color was close enough to my own that I let it grow out and haven’t dyed it since. I will leave the color well enough alone, until I see charming white hairs, that is.

    Oddly, in my author photo my hair looks reddish blonde, like my old dye job. Huh.

  9. Great hair story, lol!

    Also, just stopping by to let you know that a) I never got that email from you when you said you’d email me and b) you never responded to the email I sent you through your site, lol. So yeah, just email me sometime here: 🙂

  10. Sorry I’m a couple days late replying to comments! Internet access has been spotty.

    Tom, I think I definitely will find myself a pink wig. It’ll keep me from actually doing something nuts with my hair… something more suited to a 15-year-old protagonist than her adult creator.

    Kris, it’s amazing how those inner brunettes fight their way back, isn’t it?

    Danielle, I’ll keep you updated! And the scary thing about color is, once you take the plunge it isn’t so scary. Apparently people get kind of addicted to playing with it (once again, who, me?).

    Book Chic, email sent!

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