Am I Still Authentic If I Dye My Hair?

Ciara Gogan

March 05, 2019

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Oh, and five steps toward loving yourself.

I'm sitting at the hairdresser as I write this, head covered in red goop, and it got me thinking about this question. Authenticity is a hot topic these days. Adam Grant wrote an article about being too authentic and how, in his opinion, it may stunt career growth. Brené Brown wrote a response, as Adam had invoked an edited version of her definition of authenticity in his article. For the record, I'm on Brené's side of this debate. We should all strive to be our authentic selves. But, does dyeing my hair make me less authentic?

Often, we are afraid to show up as ourselves; we fear being judged, criticized, and ridiculed. One of life's big challenges is to hold our heads up and be proud of who we are. My personal and professional mission is to shine a light on what people have to offer, so that we can all embrace our magnificent selves because we all have something to offer. Here are but a few examples . . .

  • A great wisdom, or a simple smile
  • A shoulder for a friend, or a platform for hundreds
  • A gift for song, or a magic hand with a paint brush
  • A quiet peace, or the ability to speak to the masses

So, how do we learn to love our authentic selves and slay the fear of being seen for who we are? For me, it started with two things: getting my inner critic under wraps—or at least understanding what she sounds like. More about this here. And learning to appreciate my own gifts. Here are five steps to take away:

1. Ask Someone Who Is Trusted

Many of us are great at pointing out others' positives but are terrible when it comes to our own. Identify a friend or colleague who will be genuinely honest. Ask them to tell you one or two things that you are awesome at . . . then believe them. Remember, you picked them as an honest, upfront person.

2. Do "I am" before Going to Sleep

We spend so much time thinking about what we are not . . . not experienced enough, not young enough, not old enough, etc. Dr. Wayne Dyer talked often about the power of "I am." At night, before going to sleep, repeat positive "I am" statements like:

  • I am kind
  • I am capable
  • I am loving and loved

Take some time to think of ones that are genuine . . . the things that you like about yourself even if you'd never admit them to anyone else.

3. Do a Strengths Evaluation

Knowing your strengths can go a long way to accepting that you do, indeed, have lovely qualities and have something worthwhile to offer the world. There are two strength evaluations that I use: VIA Character Strengths and Strengths Finder 2.0. Doing one of these evaluations can also help if stuck on step two.

4. Do Something Nice—for You

This was something my coach taught me, and I love it.

  • Pamper yourself
  • Treat yourself
  • Buy yourself something that makes you smile
  • Go for a quiet walk

Whatever is chosen, make it something that wouldn't normally be done or something that time usually doesn't allow, and then savor it.

5. Take a Leap, and Take Action

Use new-found self-knowledge, and take the authentic you out for a test run. I know this sounds scary. To be authentic for many of us means to be vulnerable. Brené writes and talks extensively on vulnerability.

It will be okay. Do it in a safe space to begin with, among trusted friends or family. Once you see how well people respond, you will be empowered to branch out and introduce your new, badass self to the world.

So, back to my original question: am I still authentic if I dye my hair? Yes, unapologetically, bright-red-haired, yes. Authenticity doesn't come from the outside . . .

Be kind to one another,


People often remember Ciara Gogan for her shock of red hair. What she wants you to remember is how she helps professionals like you understand and appreciate their superpowers: their unique strengths and gifts. She wants to teach them to see their value and what they bring to the world and to revel in it.

Ciara's passion is helping her clients attain the life they want, on their terms. She helps them to find their voice, deal with the "mean girl" in their head, and gain meaningful insight into themselves. Her clients learn how to prioritize in their work and home lives, how to be recognized as strategic members of their teams, and how to take their rightful place in the world!

Ciara attained her master professional life coach certification at a well-regarded coach training school,Impact Coaching Academy, learning the skills that have helped thousands of people just like you. She is also a Huffington Post Contributor, writes for Thrive Global, is a petitioners coach, and has been a feature on Women You Should Know. All of this, over 20 years of analytical experience in technology, can help you to make real, positive change in your life.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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