By Cierra McArthur
What makes you who you are? While your inner character plays a role, outer appearances are used more and more often to showcase personality and beliefs these days. With this concept in mind, four University of Georgia students were interviewed in an attempt to gauge the most common or desired cosmetic changes done.
Change #1: Going Natural
While the movement is largely concentrated in the black community, it is one that has received more attention in recent years. Now, you can see more people who have abandoned chemically relaxing their hair in favor of rocking their natural hair texture. “I started [going natural] 8th grade year; that’s when I stopped chemically processing my hair,” says Judy Stubblefield, a first year, journalism major, from Kennesaw, GA. While she originally did it for growth, over time she found more factors to motivate her to continue. “I kind of picked up other reasons, [such as] just kind of accepting who I am naturally and not conforming to society’s definition of beauty,” says Stubblefield. While the response to her hair has been mostly positive, she does occasionally receive the “your hair looks so good straight” comment, and gently reminds them that her hair looks fine with its natural texture. Her advice to anyone else desiring to go natural is to stick with it and not just give up while it is still in its early transitioning stages.
Change #2: Getting A Haircut
While haircuts are pretty common, big ones often garner extra attention, especially in girls. “I went from shoulder length natural hair to cutting it all off,” says Jessica Sensabaugh, a second year, computers systems engineering major, from Watkinsville, GA. The move saves her countless time in hair maintenance and is one she loves despite some negative responses to it. “It’s one of those things where it’s not for everybody, it’s for you,” says Sensabaugh. While she gets the occasional “sir” slipup, she just calmly corrects the person and moves on. She would counsel anyone desired to do a drastic haircut to go for it and make sure to be specific about what kind of haircut you want when going to a professional.
Change #3: Experimenting With Hair Dye
With hair colors ranging from natural to “Skittles bright”, this cosmetic change is starting to have a larger place in everyday life. “First, I wanted just a lighter brown in my hair,” says Madisyn Wells, a first year, bio premed major, from Sacramento, CA. However, after seeing Beyoncé’s iconic blonde locks, she decided to go for blonde highlights the next go round. While she loves her color, she plans on stopping for hair health reasons. “I feel like it’s making my hair weaker,” says Wells. For anyone else wanting to also dye their hair, she recommends doing your research and making sure whether or not you want to use bleach.
Change #4: Extensions
Extensions often allow a person to experiment with different hairstyles with little commitment. “I started experimenting with hair weave and extensions more once I got [to UGA]. That kind of helped me with the natural [hair] process,” says Shalaundye Felton, a third year, social studies education major, from Fort Valley, GA. Because of this, she has been able to avoid using heat on her hair since freshmen year. When asked what motivated her to do it, she cites laziness as the reason. “I had a full schedule,” says Felton. Between taking 15 hours freshmen year and working an 18-hour job, she found she didn’t have much time to dedicate to daily hair maintenance. With the extensions, she is able to save time in styling, making it is easier to maintain. However, when she does wear her natural hair, she gets positive responses. For others who want to be natural, she suggests saving, as the process can get expensive. If uncertain about how you would look natural, she recommends using extensions as a way to test the look out.
Changes #5 and #6: Piercings and Tattoos
With these changes, the desire is there; however, worries about how it would be perceived in the professional realm can serve as a strong deterrent. “People judge over the dumbest things,” says Sensabaugh. Though both piercings and tattoos are less and less shocking as time goes on, they still are frowned upon in many competitive fields. Strategic placement can be utilized to bypass this problem, and you can always research your line of work to see what is generally accepted.
If you want to do any cosmetic changes, you should decide if that is something you really want to do. You only have this one life. You might as well make the most of it and do what you want to do, so go forth and do you!