Growing Into It: An Essay

Words and photos by Savana Ogburn

Since age 4 or 5, I’ve been obsessed with hair. I have vivid memories of pointing out strangers with technicolor locks to my parents and telling them, I’m going to have that hair one day. Throughout the years, this obsession has taken a number of forms: spending a Barnes & Noble gift card from my 7th birthday on a book that instructed me to paint pigmented mascara on each of my strands, buying a platinum blonde Hannah Montana wig at age 9, taking photos upon photos of emo haircuts to my hairdresser to replicate on my poor head at age 13, and religiously flat ironing it ever morning at age 14. I’ve always been fascinated by people with cool hair, especially when it’s rainbow-hued, and this fascination met its match when I found out about the band Paramore.

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I was in love with the music first, but not long after came an attachment to each of the members, especially Hayley. This admiration peaked with me sitting in my bathroom, waiting for my ever-patient mom to finish smearing orange Kool Aid on my dark brown locks almost every weekend (after our weekly Hot Topic run, duh. Emo 4ever.) Hayley’s unapologetically loud style spoke to me in a way that I hadn’t been spoken to before- she was, and still is, a total force! I had never been told so audibly that I could and even should dress however I wanted, even if it didn’t “match” or look conventionally pretty. Hayley walked the line between approachability and total outlandishness; though she wore totally wacky, highlighter hued outfits and had fiery orange hair, she maintained, through her incredibly honest and introspective lyrics, a sense of relatability to people who may not have totally known who they were yet, but knew that Paramore’s music was going to get them a step closer- people like 13 year old me.

Beauty, and hair in particular, is directly linked to my self confidence, and thus a bazillion other things like, my productivity and attitude toward THE WORLD AT LARGE. If my hair is limp and flat…I feel the same. If my hair is big and voluminous and bright pink, I feel like I can do anything. This correlation between appearance and attitude has proven to be a double edged sword, like when I wake up with greasy, sad looking hair, and need to be a productive person and can’t stop thinking about how my head is a cesspool. But the amazing thing about it is that I’m in control. If I want to take over the world (read: take up space, or even just like, get things done), I can dye my hair a brand new color or throw it into a couple of cool space buns. Ta-da! Cool hair = confidence = productivity.

“Everything about Hayley seemed like pure confidence to me- she was comfortable enough to not only make flamboyant style choices, but to jump around a stage in front of thousands of people, absolutely baring her soul to the audience. She was tough as hell and vulnerable at the same time.”

Listening to Paramore for the first time set off a huge lightbulb for me- I remember hearing Brand New Eyes for the first time and getting full body chills when I heard “Brick by Boring Brick”. There was something about hearing a girl sing bitter, angry, lyrics, all while admitting and owning her own flaws, that hit me hard. Everything about Hayley seemed like pure confidence to me- she was comfortable enough to not only make flamboyant style choices, but to jump around a stage in front of thousands of people, absolutely baring her soul to the audience. She was tough as hell and vulnerable at the same time. She helped me realize that I was allowed to be a multifaceted human being; that I was allowed to look however I want, and that I didn’t have to CARE what anyone thought of that.

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All of that is not to say that anyone, even Hayley, is ever 100% confident. But hair, for me at least, is the armor that I can put on when I want to feel as powerful and commanding as Hayley, and time and time again has proven to be the catalyst for recognizing the best parts of myself. ✿

PS- In these photos, I’m wearing Ex-Girl mixed with a teeeny squeeze of Steal My Sunshine from Hayley Williams and Brian O’Connor’s brand new hair dye company, goodDYEyoung. I love love it and have dyed my hair twice with it already! It’s my new holy grail product (with an added emotional attachment, hi!)

Savana Ogburn is an 18 year old photographer, avid DIYer, and pop music enthusiast located in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently makes art for Rookie, Highlight Magazine, and Sonic Blume (of which she is the founder & editor-in-chief). Savana currently lives and works from her local Chili’s, which she hasn’t left in 6 years. You can keep up with her mozzarella stick escapades on TwitterInstagram and her website.
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