Photo of me from March 2006, when I began dyeing my hair red
Today marks an important anniversary for me; I have been a fiery redhead for 10 years now! It might sound a bit superficial to you – but there is a story behind the transformation.
I was born a blonde. When I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me that my hair was made of gold and if I would brush it a hundred times – I’d turn into a real life princess. Of course it never happened and I thought my hair looked more like hay, or something less exciting.
When I was only 18 years old, I met my abuser He was a schoolmate and my first real love – and I stayed with him for five years. Those years would change my life forever. I lived in a secret Hell, and I didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, not even the cops that came to our apartment because the neighbors heard me scream for help. I kept it all within myself and it grew, and grew like a black tumor inside. I started to loath myself – I projected his evil onto myself. His dark visions of me turned into my own twisted self-images. I thought was fat, ugly and gross, the same words he used to describe me with.
Before I met him, I was a very strong and expressive young person and I tried to keep the memory of that girl alive in my soul – and when I finally found the courage to end the marriage, I looked for her to find strength. But the trauma had blurred the memories of myself and it was harder than I thought to find the way back to myself. I felt lost.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I felt like I was this blonde shadow of someone I used to be before I turned into nothing but a victim.
11 years old and deeply focused on a writing project
12 years old and bored at a restaurant in Belgium
16 years old
In Italy 1997, 17 years old
18 years old (1998)
During the divorce, 2003
With blonde extensions, 2006
The last month as a blonde, 2006
Three years after the divorce, in 2006, I felt like I was in a place where I could start looking for a new me, instead of trying to go back in time and try to rescue myself before the trauma happened. I hated the position of being a victim and I made a promise to myself that I would do anything to overcome my horrible past. Unfortunately, at this point, I was struggling with a new trauma and it became the final straw – so I slipped into a deep depression. Even though this was one of the hardest times of my life, I kept myself alive by working with my art – non-stop. I created art (the first collection horror art) to distract myself from the pain I felt inside – and it’s safe to say that my creativity saved my life. It’s not the first time – and it won’t be the last.
“It’s All In My Head” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]
“My Hell” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]
I kept pushing through the pain with my will to survive and to thrive through my art. To make something beautiful out of the grotesque and ugly that was happening to me at the time. I felt like I was going through a metamorphosis in my art – it changed so much, both technically and in expression. That’s when I really started to change as a person too. And I decided to become everything I wanted to be – and to not only overcome my traumas, but also to become who I was meant to be in this world. I knew it was a real challenge, but I also knew I could do it. I would recreate a new version of myself, piece by piece and by facing all my demons (that’s why I make so many demon portraits). I would become my own work of art.
I began this metamorphosis by dyeing my hair red – to make a real visible change. Then I put myself in therapy. I wanted to use every expression I could find, every possible way to disassociate myself from who I used to be. “His wife”, “the victim”, “the submissive”. I now looked so different from her. It was liberating.
That is the story behind my red hair. I highly doubt that I’ll ever go back to being blonde again. I love my fiery hair, it illustrates so well what’s in my heart. I am still a work in progress. I’ve failed a million times and I’ve fallen down the dark rabbit hole, over and over again. It has taken me 10 years of hard work to overcome my traumas and I’m still not quite over them yet – but at least I am on my way to achieve something extraordinary. I can feel it.
The fiery red will guide me on my path. It’s so much more than just a color. So much more.