One of the many tech journalist types I keep up with wrote a piece about the reasons and motivation around hair style and length for women. As a fan of interesting hair color and style, I was really interested to hear what she had to say. The short version is that she believes long and/or colored hair represents facets of leisure, wealth and a certain amount of vanity. While I appreciate her stance, being a gay feminist and what not, isn't this all over-thinking it a bit?
While I get a desire to question authority and disregard the social standards of "the man," I think most people who aren't teenagers do things to their appearance because they like how it looks. People unwilling or not interested in having a radical appearance tend to suggest that others will do so for the attention, but I just don't buy that.
I've known enough people with wild hair color to know that their motivation is simply that they like how it looks. I don't know, I suppose that's vanity to some degree, but so is putting on heels and a pants suit. At the end of the day, I believe people are motivated to appear in ways that they feel most comfortable, and that's OK. The same goes for piercings and tattoos. I can say with even more certainty that people do this because they like how it looks, not for attention.
O'Dell concludes by saying that your appearance does not exist in a vacuum, and you do have to pick your battles about what you're willing to put up with in terms of the response from others. That's true, but I don't think you should have to be apologetic about it. Can't it just be as simple as, "I look this way because I like it?"