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Author Topic: Unusual Hair Color Question
Merlion-Emrys
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I’ve been thinking about a small detail that will come into play in the next chapters of “The Dawn Prism” (my novel in progress.) My characters will be traveling to a land that is strongly Asian/anime flavored in design, which I have dubbed Kazephyria. Quite possibly the entire continent will have different Asian/anime influences…this place is a land of airships and navies with a bit of a proclivity toward the Blue Road. I’ve already decided that I’m going to give the humans native to the land slight touches of anime-characterness in their appearance…round eyes, delicate mouths that sort of thing. But there is something else I’m toying with, that relates to a concept that already exists in the world.

As many of you know, in the UotNRs most wizards, especially those with a very strong connection to their Road have a small physical feature that shows their connection; typically, either their eye color or hair color matches the color of their Road. So far, I’ve done this “realistically” in that a Blue wizard will have blue eyes and a Yellow mage will have yellow/blond hair.

As many of you probably also know, it’s not unusual for even human anime characters to have “unrealistic” hair colors, like green or blue, that don’t naturally occur in humans. So, I have occasionally toyed with the idea of having those kind of hair colors be naturally possible for Kazephyrians or at the very least, for some Kazephyrian mages (Blue Road wizards with blue hair, for example.) The problem with having people of that ethnicity just have those haircolors is I fear some may find it over the top or silly. The problem with having it be purely a Road-based thing is, if it's that, it would be universal all over the world, and I haven't established a precedent for that. So, I'm also considering that it's actually that it is culturally common in this place for mages to dye their hair the color of their Road.

Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated, as I am curious to what the reaction to this concept would be among people.

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rcmann
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My reaction is that people have been dying their hair since at least the Assyrian empire. Go for it.
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Merlion-Emrys
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Ok...that's good. But the dying is sort of like a secondary fall back option. I'm particularly curious about how people feel about the idea of a human ethnic group who naturally possess "unnatural" hair colors.
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rcmann
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Hair color is an adaptation to environmental conditions. It also, to a limited degree, reflects diet. Are these people fully human? If so, they are not likely to have blue hair. They might have silvery hair with a blueish tint to it. Otherwise I can't see it happening naturally.
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babooher
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I'm thinking of flamingos. You already have an area that is predisposed to the Blue Road. Maybe something in their diet could affect their hair color. But even without it, if people can have red hair, why can't they have blue? I sometimes have blue eyes, why not blue hair?

I see nothing wrong with the overall concept. In fact, I see it as a normal, natural evolution of thought by observing current trends. If someone sees it as over the top, perhaps that person needs to look at a different genre.

By the way, have you ever read the color philosophies behind the Oz settings? I believe the Munchkins had a strong affinity for blue.

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Merlion-Emrys
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They are fully human, but they aren't from this world.

And there are organisms on earth with blue, green etc coloration. I also find it interesting because among humans, there are some ethnicities that are nearly totally "mono chromatic"...East Asians, for instance, almost universally have black hair.

I think at the end of the day my biggest concern is that it will scream "anime" too loud and put of all the people who have misconceptions about that particular art form.

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Merlion-Emrys
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No I didn't know there were color themes in the Oz stories...apart from yellow bricks and emeralds.
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babooher
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The color themes were something Baum started with, but I think he eventually just let it die away. The munchkins only liked to wear blue, and there were four basic areas (if memory serves) to OZ, each with a different color they identified with.

I only mention this to highlight a kind of cultural resonance your work seems to be taking.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Well, color is pretty universal. The specific symbolisms aren't...well...actually some of them kind of are but many are not (White being a biggy...in the West, white is purity, in the East, white is death.) But color being important is pretty much universal.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If not hair that grows out of their heads in "unnatural" colors, how about wigs?
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Merlion-Emrys
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I hadn't thought about that, but I had thought about dyeing.

This is sort of a weird thing because the only reason I am even thinking about it is as a way to pay additional homage to my love of anime. But because of the nature of the world, other issues crop up, culturally and conceptually.

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extrinsic
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Pigmentation factors besides natural or synthetic coloring occur in the real world. A person who has been poisoned by arsenic and lives may have pigmentless streaks, or blazes in the hair. Shock white patches even in naturally black hair that are permanent. Other heavy metal poisons cause similar pigment loss in hair.

Though rare, purple eyes occur naturally. Hazel irises change color depending on some say mood, though more from sympathetic response to surroundings, chameleon-like, green, silver, brown, blue, golden.

Once upon a time, it was widely believed that environmental factors influenced skin pigmentation. More than just sunlight exposure. Eastern woodland Native Americans added dyestuff to their skin protections, madder or blood root, puccoon in the True People's tongue dies their skins red for months after one application. An olive complexion from olive oil for near Eastern cultures, Yellow pigmentation from windblown Yangtze River loess carried across China.

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MAP
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I have no problem with humans from a different world having unusual eye or hair color.

You can make it subtle. Kind of like a bluish tint in dark hair, just like red in auburn or a strawberry blonde.

I don't think it is silly or over the top as long as it fits with the world you've created. I say go for it. [Smile]

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MartinV
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I'm in a similar position myself.

I have a main character (I hate to call her heroine, partly because the whole hero thing is too cliche to me, and because it spells too much like heroin) that has unusual eye and hair coloration. She disguises that on many occasions, either my illusion magic or simply dye. Gets into some interesting problems because of it too.

In the first version of the story, her hair and eyes are the same color - gold. The reason for this is because I used the face generator in the Elder Scrolls game to create her face (I'm terrible with a pencil). The color combination looked very good so I used it in the story. As I started to rewrite the story, I realized her hair shouldn't be the same color as her eyes because the reason for this coloration is different for each case. I'm trying to find another color of hair that would work but the truth is nothing seems as good as the glowing gold.

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Merlion-Emrys
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For a variety of reasons, I think it's either going to be dye or nothing. I'm having trouble reconciling all the elements.

But, I don't think most people will have any trouble picking up the anime homage elements in this part of the story (although actually the whole world is somewhat anime and Eastern influenced, as is my very writing style to some extent.)

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extrinsic
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A consistent color scheme with credible causes and effects strikes me as an artful and subtle way to keep an ensemble of characters straight in readers' minds. Fabulous imagery and symbolism potentials there.

I wonder if the color schemes might have personality and behavior foundations. Blue for one spectrum of personalities, for example. Or like gang colors. Or the Lüscher color test used as a pscyoanalytical tool. Blue, gray preference for mellow personalities, for example.

Also, in some meaningful way the emergence of a color preference as an artful way to enhance the use of color schemes. Say. a "black" who others see as a "blue" because he accessorizes to stand out from the black crowd, with blue gems, blue robes or tunics or shirts. and realizes he's actually a "blue." But the blues won't accept him until he sheds his blackness.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Well, extrinsic, basically in this setting I already have one big color based system: The Nine Roads themselves. The Roads act both as the magic system and also a large part of the cosmology and culture of the world...they aren't just sources of magical abilities but also represent abstract concepts and life paths/philosophies.

I already have an established phenomena whereby, for instance let's say you have a Red Road wizard whose natural hair color is blond. He may...if he is deeply devoted/connected to his Road...have his hair turn red eventually. Same thing with, for example, Green and eyes. But, I've always kept it paired with whatever hair/eye colors occur naturally in a species.

So when I got the idea of having an anime-inspired region and thought it might be neat to have humans with unusual hair colors I started considering all the ways these different concepts may interact. But I've mostly decided I'm not really happy with any of them. Mostly because for me either way I do it it'd create inconsistencies with the rest of the world.

The Roads word the same way everywhere and are universal: so, if I have it that Kazephyrian humans can naturally have blue or green or purple hair, then even if people of other ethnicities don't have those colors naturally, since it would be added to the spectrum of human possibilities, mages from other lands might still wind up with them. Likewise, if a Kazephyrian Blue wizard might end up with blue hair for me, to be consistent, the same would have to be true for anyone.

I'm toying with the idea of hair dyeing as a Kazephyrian cultural custom but...I honestly don't really like that idea much. So I think I will probably end up sticking with giving them a slight case of BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth.)

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Josephine Kait
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You could have the coloring be a side effect of the magic use, which intensifies over time. It would then affect skin as well, though to a lesser degree. This could then be a “natural” warning much like the little poisonous frogs from the rain forests. Non-magic users who admire that Road might then dye their hair/skin to emulate. Then your anime culture could be overly expressive and accentuate what in other cultures might most often be very subtle.

If you went with this kind of idea, then a person of any coloring could start down a given Road and gain a slight “tint.” But the slight alteration could grow stronger not only with use and time, but be passed generationally and intensify that way as well.

In less expressive cultures, this color alteration could be considered something to be mitigated with various creams, powders, etc. Or in a culture that values naturalism, it could just be accepted as what is.

What do you think?

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ForlornShadow
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I'm going to guess this story is science fiction, fiction, or fantasy. Due to this fact very little real world rules apply. The people of Kazephyria are from a different world right; so, its not so far fetched for them to have odd hair color. Maybe as a way to keep it from being too anime-ish have them have highlights or parts of their hair the color that you want it to be. Maybe their eyebrows and eyelashes are the 'unnatural' color as well.
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