If you were considering dying your blonde hair before visiting India, due to concerns about attracting too much unwanted attention, my advice to you would be: “Don’t bother”.
I have bright white, platinum blonde hair, and I have to admit it…. I was very nervous about the idea of being blonde in India. So much so, that I took two bottles of dark brown hair dye with me, convinced that I would be dying my hair brown within a few days of arriving.
I suppose that sounds pretty ignorant of me. But, the truth is, having spoken to many people about travelling to India, things that were constantly said to me, were “are you going to dye your hair?” , “Well, they’re going to love you”, and “You’re going to turn a few heads”… Living in Hanoi for so long, I have almost, but not completely, gotten used to the fact that in Asia, being blonde (well, being Caucasian generally, but especially being blonde) I am going to get noticed… a lot. And the Vietnamese are not subtle when it comes to noticing. They will point, and laugh, and touch my hair, and stare at me and nudge their friends. It can get pretty tiresome to be honest. So, when people said on numerous occasions, “If you think it’s bad here, just you wait ’til you get to India”, I panicked and prepared.
Being blonde in India will get you noticed, yes. But in most places, people will look at you for a little while, and then turn away and not look back.
I felt completely at ease for the most part of being blonde in India. Being ‘white’ brought a lot of attention anyway, but what I truly loved about the people, was that instead of just blatently staring at me, pointing or laughing, they actually came up to me to talk to me. They were interested in me; my country, my age, my family… It was amazing!
Not once did I tear open my backpack looking for the hair dye, and by the time we reached Goa, I completely abandoned the hair dye, relieved that I wouldn’t have to destroy my 12-year-blonde hair.
The only place that I felt the most uncomfortable about it, was in Bijapur, where foreign tourists are next to none. (In fact, for our entire 6 weeks there, we didn’t encounter one single other foreigner). There was a LOT of looking, and stopping-dead-in-tracks, and turning, and nudging, and laughing. But, if I’m honest, the impression I got was that this would have happened for any foreigner.
For anyone worried about being blonde in India, I have to say that there’s really nothing to stress about. You might be asked to have a few (million) photos taken with people, but it’s all friendly. DO NOT DYE YOUR HAIR DARK JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO INDIA! And that is coming from an insecure person, who hates people staring at her!