Vibrant hair colors have been on the scene since the '70s. The punk movement was ushered in by rebellious youth who loved dyeing their hair shocking colors to shake up the status quo and identify as outliers of popular culture. But, in the decades that have followed, the look has evolved from a counterculture statement to a pretty aesthetic embraced by the mainstream. (See: Julianne Hough described her pink hair as “the color of kindness” after dyeing it last spring.)
So imagine the shock of rainbow-haired nurse Mary Walls Penney, when a local grocery-store cashier recently ridiculed her for her technicolor 'do. Yes, in 2016. Penney, who was wearing scrubs and her name tag at the time, took to Facebook, writing, “While checking out, the cashier looked at my name tag and said, ‘So what do you do there?’ I replied, ‘I'm a nurse.’ She continued, ‘I'm surprised they let you work there like that. What do your patients think about your hair?'"
As Penney reported, the cashier went on to disparage her, saying that even the fast-food industry wouldn’t allow such a thing and expressing shock that a nursing facility would. While many of us might just shake that gorgeous mane in disbelief and let the matter go, Penney took the opportunity to speak some major truth on social media, sharing something that everyone who judges non-conventional beauty standards could benefit from hearing. She wrote, “I can't recall a time that my hair color has prevented me from providing life-saving treatment to one of my patients.”
She continued: “My tattoos have never kept them from holding my hand and as they lay frightened and crying because Alzheimer's has stolen their mind. My multiple ear piercings have never interfered with me hearing them reminisce about their better days or listening to them as they express their last wishes. My tongue piercing has never kept me from speaking words of encouragement to a newly diagnosed patient or from comforting a family that is grieving.”
It’s a great reminder for any of us — and, allegedly, for the fast-food industry — who might slip too easily into judgment. As Penney noted, it’s her “cheerful disposition, servant's heart, and smiling face” that make her a stellar healthcare worker. The rainbow hair? That’s just icing on the cake.