A Hair Journey for AVCon: Becoming Wendy

This year, AVCon was held from Friday the 17th of July to Sunday the 19th at the Adelaide Convention Centre. For those who don’t know, AVCon stands for Anime and Video Convention and is heaven on earth if you’re into anything animated, but in particular Japanese anime and manga. It’s a convention where your inner geek gets to run wild and no one will call you out for it. In fact, you’re out of place if you don’t let your inner geek run wild.

AVCon is pretty much like The Royal Adelaide Show but rather than animals and rides, it purely relates to anime, manga, and games. There are stalls everywhere selling things from badges and keyrings, to replica swords and armour. In addition, there are screening rooms where various anime and movies are played, and gaming rooms for board and card games, as well as console gaming areas. Another main feature of AVCon is the cosplay competitions. People enter these competitions and dress as their favourite characters with as much accuracy and detail in the costume as possible. Some people spend the entire year working on their outfit and their effort totally pays off.

I first went to AVCon back in 2013, but I didn’t get to go last year as my only friend who would have come with me was in America. This year, I was so caught up in uni work that I thought I wasn’t going to have time to even think about going, until about a month and a half beforehand when my friend, back from America, said ‘we should go to AVCon’. Nothing stresses you out quite like doing five topics, when everything’s due all at once, while having a part time job and trying to organise and create your cosplay outfit at the same time.

This year I went to AVCon as the same character I did in 2013 —twelve year-old Wendy Marvell from Fairy Tail —but this time, in order to be authentic, I decided to dye my hair blue. In 2013, I attempted to dye my hair blue with a temporary colour. Owing to the fact that my hair is dark brown, however, the colour didn’t take. My hair went a sort of a violet-grey, then almost black, before going back to normal – all within the space of three days. So when my friend said that we should go this year, I knew what I needed to do: bleach my hair.

Over the years, I haven’t been very creative or outlandish with my hair. Back in primary school, when it was the in-thing, my mum used to put in blonde and I dyed it back to brown once I had decided to abandon the streaks. I also temporarily dyed it red once, which didn’t show up very much unless I was in the sun; so deciding to bleach my hair was a huge thing.

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Weeks before actually bleaching and dyeing my hair, I asked my manager at work if I’d be able to work with blue hair and, to my complete surprise, he said yes. Our agreement was however, that it would just be for the weekend and that I’d dye it back to a natural colour shortly after. As we already had two people away on holidays over the AVCon weekend, and since we work together waitressing, my friend and I were unable to take the time off, hence why I asked for permission to dye my hair, as I knew I’d be working whilst it was blue.

Come Friday the 17th, my friend and I went shopping and bought everything we needed, and from then on everything was rush, rush, rush. Bleaching my hair took a lot longer than we expected; while my hair is quite fine, it’s also quite long, reaching halfway down my back when fully straightened. Due to this, sectioning my hair and making sure all the roots were covered took a long time. I’d always thought I wouldn’t suit blonde hair, but I was curious to know what it would look like. After getting out the shower, I knew for certain that blonde didn’t work for me at all.

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When my apricot blonde hair was dry, it was time to add the blue. We started applying the blue at four o’clock and at five we had to be out the door leaving for work. We were feeling the pressure. Fifteen minutes before needing to leave for work, I jumped in the shower and, in my mad rush to wash the dye out as quickly as possible, I forgot to wash my hair away from my body. My hands looked like they’d been washed in ink and my nails remained blue even after vigorous scrubbing. After getting out of the shower (at about three minutes to five), my friend hair dried my hair while my mum and I furiously scrubbed at my blue (da ba dee da ba die) face. In the end, my make-up covered the majority of the blue left on my face, but the blue on my back, stomach, and legs had to wait until Saturday morning.

As I started work first on Friday night, I got to see the reactions of my fellow workers as tbluethey all came in. And it was totally worth it. ‘Oh my god’, ‘wow’, ‘you actually did it’, and—from my supervisor who wouldn’t stop saying it all night—‘your hair is fucking BLUE’. At least, those were the guys’ reactions. From the girls I got numerous comments of ‘oh my gosh, I love it’ and ‘I really want to dye my hair again’. From customers I received trying-to-be-subtle-but-it’s-not-working looks and one comment directly to me about how cool she thought it looked.

tredOn Monday the 20th, I dyed my hair chestnut brown, though it really turned out more chestnut (reddish) than brown, but at least it’s more natural than blue. Dyeing my hair blue was quite an experience and, while it made my character work for AVCon and the looks I received were entertaining, there was a downside: blue everywhere. My nails were stained blue for the entire weekend and only now (three days after dyeing my hair red-brown) are back to normal. Every time I touched my hair to rearrange it, my hands would come away blue and the necks of all the shirts I wore were also attacked by the colour. My shower and towel are in dire need of a thorough clean and even my hair brush has changed colour.

Despite all of these complications, I don’t regret dyeing my hair for one minute. In fact, I rather liked it blue and, if it wasn’t for the colour leaching into everything, I probably would have stayed a bluenette for a whole lot longer.

Words by Tamsin Alexander