Purple hair, don't care

Halen Doughty

If you've seen me in the past week or so, you may have noticed that my hair is now a vibrant shade of purple. Those who have known me for years are not at all surprised by this. Those who are new to my life may be a bit taken back by my colorful hair, tattoos, and stretched ears.

For the most part, I hear lots of nice things about my appearance, from compliments to exclamations of jealousy over the color I bring into my life. But every now and then, someone comes along who feels the need to express their distaste with my style. To those I would say, zip it.

The saying goes if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's something we learn in kindergarten but that some adults struggle with even late into life. For some reason, there are those who wish to impose their beliefs and opinions onto others and let them know how wrong they are. I can't fathom that. I simply cannot imagine walking up to a stranger and giving my negative opinion of their hair, clothes, what they're buying in the store, or anything else for that matter.

Even more surprising is when people feel the need to inform me that my hair is purple or that I have tattoos, as if I didn't already know (or purposely dye my hair and ink my skin, but whatever). There are others who try to tell me that's enough, and I should stop getting tattoos, coloring my hair, or stretching my ears.

Since there seems to be a bit of confusion among some about the way I choose to look, allow me to set the record straight. I am quite fond of my hair. Purple is my favorite color, which is why I choose to rock violet locks. I'm also a fan of my tattoos, which is why I have so many and continue to get more (with no plans of stopping anytime soon). I even like my stretched ears, hence I keep wearing my half inch plugs. I like the way that I look, and quite frankly, I don't care if you don't.

Some people have told me there's no way that I can work in a professional industry "looking like that." Well, I'd like to squash the notion that my appearance in anyway affects my job performance. I regularly work with congressmen, senators, business owners, as well as state, parish and local officials. Not once has anyone denied me an interview after seeing my tattoos. No one has ever refused to speak to me because of my hair color. In fact, many of the people I work with like my look as well. Some even enjoy hearing the stories behind my tattoos or guessing what color my hair will be next month.

I understand it's not every day you run across someone with an "alternative" style, and many people may not know the proper sentiment to express. So let me help with that. For one, backhanded compliments like "You would be so pretty without all that stuff" are usually a no go. Offering unwanted advice on when to stop or how many tattoos you think is enough is also touchy. Obviously, telling me how "trashy" it looks or that I resemble a criminal is pretty darn offensive.

To answer the questions I typically get asked in line at Walmart, yes, they hurt. Tattoos are done with a machine that stabs a needle into the skin thousands of times a minute, of course they hurt! Also, I'm well aware that one day I will be old and my skin will sag. Yes, I still want the ink. Everyone's appearance changes with age, but at least I know I'll always be colorful and interesting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, well-intentioned compliments are always welcome, but if you have anything nasty to say, keep it to yourself. I don't need that kind of negativity in my life.

Follow Halen on Twitter: @LikeVanHalen