Women Are Dyeing Their Blonde Hair Brown to Stay Alive

Can you imagine dyeing your hair in order to protect your life? That's what women in El Salvador are doing: covering up their blonde tresses as brunette in droves. Violence in the Central American country has reached an all-time high, and women are afraid of being targets with light-colored hair.


As gang violence has taken over the nation, a rumor began circulating that only gang members' girlfriends are allowed to have blonde or red hair, or even wear the colors red or yellow. The gangs have issued statements denying that this is true, but the ladies are still hitting the salon.

Former blonde Maria Jose Estrada said, "You don't wait for clarifications ... These people are crazy and they will kill you."

The violence has gotten so bad that stores won't even stay open at night, and police put up roadblock to protect the police station. The cops are even living there, rather than face the gangs on the street. In May, there were 635 homicides, and June is set to break that record.

In 2013, a truce of sorts was reached between the government and the gangs. The imprisoned gang leaders were moved to facilities with lower security, in exchange for their orders to their members outside to keep the violence down.

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In January of this year, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén rejected it, and moved the gang leaders back to high-security prisons. Raúl Mijango, a former guerrilla and facilitator of the truce, said, "You take away the mature leadership, and you get a structure that is made up of younger, fanatical people who want to make a name for themselves ... They want war."

Once again, I'm grateful to be living in a country where I don't have to worry that the color of my hair might get me killed.

Would you dye your hair if you lived in El Salvador?


Image via © Helen King/Corbis

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