Recently I made a really really scary decision. I decided to stop coloring my hair. Yipes!
It’s been six months now, and I’m at that very awkward half-way point, and I’m not sure what to do from here. Cut it short so it’s all gray? Wear a hat? Tie it in a knot in the back or braid it? Pretend it’s normal? Color it?! Why is this so tough? When is the right time to go gray and how the heck are you supposed to do it gracefully? I don’t have the answers. I’m just doing my best to get through this and to look (gulp) my age.
My natural hair color was dark brown for many years, but when the first gray hairs made their appearance in my late twenties I would have nothing of it; so I started dying it, matching the same brown color. That was about 20 years ago. Over the years more and more gray hairs have shown up, and I’ve been dying my hair a bit lighter, and a bit lighter, until basically I became a blonde, and basically lost any inkling of what my natural hair color was any more.
Even though I was blonde until about age 10, I never quite got used to becoming blonde again. I never felt like I found the right shade of blonde for my skin tone. Every now and then I’d run into someone I hadn’t seen in a while who’d say, “Oh my god you’re blonde!” and I’d respond, “Oh yeah, I guess I am.”
These days I’m getting quite a different kind of reaction. Like “Oh wow, you’re hair is really gray!” Or “You have a lot of different colors going on these days.” Or “Wouldn’t it be easier to color it all gray?” And most recently, “You are really up with the trends Suzanne. I just read that gray hair is white hot these days!” Which is really funny to me because I’m pretty sure that my half grey, half blonde, with some brown here and there hair is the opposite of hot.
When you have as much gray hair as I do, growing it out is just kind of weird. Sometimes I think, This isn’t so bad. This isn’t so noticeable. Then I’ll see a picture of myself and think This is ridiculous! Why not just be a blonde for a little while longer?! Mostly I feel like I’ve come this far and I shouldn’t turn back now.
When I was at a thrift store in Palm Springs last month, buying two pot holders and a piece of fabric for two dollars, the cashier asked me if I qualified for the senior discount. I was pretty surprised, but also very curious to know how old I needed to be, and how much money I’d save. He said “55 and twenty cents”, and I said, “No thank you!” After that I wanted to rush to the store and buy some L’Oreal Creme #8. But I resisted. I’ve also noticed that when I’m at the grocery store the bagger person now regularly asks me, “Can I help you to your car with that ma’am?” Good grief…
The media might be saying that gray hair is white hot, but I know few women these days who let their hair go gray naturally, and certainly no woman in the entertainment industry under 55 is gray. When I’m not doubting my decision, I tell myself, The hell with it! Guys go bald for cryin’ out loud, why can’t I go gray? And most of the men my age who aren’t bald have gray hair and they look great. Plus, coloring your hair is a pain in the butt, involves smearing chemicals all over your head, and looks terrible when the roots start showing. Enough already!
Okay, enough already. I’m going gray and that’s that. It all just seems silly and superficial, doesn’t it? My husband, friends, and family all still seem to still like me fine, even with my funny half old-lady hair. And that’s what matters most. Right?