Saturday, December 31, 2011

On Going Gray Gracefully

A man is as old as he's feeling,
A woman as old as she looks.
–Mortimer Collins

I found my first gray hair at the age of 29. My hair was considerably longer than it is now, falling about 8" below my shoulders. I was playing with a lock of it, watching the way the sun hit it, and there it was. A white hair. It was unmistakable in the midst of my light brown hair. And it was the length of all the others. It freaked me out a little bit because my dad's hair was completely white by the time he was 45. I wondered if I was destined for the same fate.

Since that time I've watched and waited for the gray to stage a coup. My hair hasn't changed drastically in the last 10 years like I thought it might, but in recent months I've noticed more and more white appearing. The grays don't really out-number the pigmented hairs. But they have become visible. Noticeable. Their appearance makes my hair look ashy. Dull. Faded.

Aging is a funny thing. Madeline L'Engle said, The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. It is true. I still feel like a silly schoolgirl when I read a love story or see a romantic movie. I still have freckles like I did when I was twelve. I still like to sit on the floor with my feet tucked up under me "Indian style" like I did when I was five. And I still like sleeping on my stomach, which is how my mom put me in bed when I was a baby. I feel the same today as I did 15 years ago; even 20 years ago. I don't feel old at all.

I've been trying to figure out why it is that a little bit of white hair, a small change in my physical appearance, could change my perception of myself; could make me feel old. Because after looking at that ashy, dull hair for the last several months, I finally got tired of it and I had my super cute sister/hairstylist color my hair this week. It was a huge step because once you color your hair to cover the gray you have to be vigilant.

Coloring my hair isn't anything new. Although I've gone with my natural color since 2008, coloring my hair is something I have always liked to do. But this time was different, somehow. In the past, it was always just for fun. I liked trying out different colors and I didn’t care if people knew it wasn’t my real color. This time I colored my hair to cover the gray that is steadily creeping in. Something about that bothers me. Even though I tried to keep it fun by going a shade darker than my natural color with a copper undertone to it, knowing that the main purpose is to hide the gray kind of takes the fun out of it.

Maybe I'll have my sister go a tiny bit lighter next time. Because there will be a next time. I'm not going to go gray gracefully. I'm going to fight it, kicking and screaming. My next appointment is February 6th.

Constant vigilance.

11 comments:

mom said...

HEY I am your mom and I didn't know that was why we came down to color your hair. I thouht it was just for fun. You don't have that much gray, at least not that I have noticed. anyway it sure is a cute color now!

Shay said...

Waving at Mom of E...

Oh E, this post resonated with me on so many leveles. I found my first grey hair on my 29th birthday and was utterly horrified.

And until recently I only got my hair coloured twice a year and now I need to get it done about every 8 weeks to keep those greys at bay.

I'll join you in refusing to grow grey gracefully. Lets both go pink and purple next time we need a colour huh?

Sarah Craig said...

Don't feel too bad - my hair is just starting to grow back in after chemo, and I'm terrified to see what color it comes in - because I've been coloring it for about 24 years not, since I noticed my first gray hair! Constant vigilance is right!!

Iris said...

That's so cool your mom reads your blog! :)

Don't throw a shoe at me through the computer - I don't have gray. Well I think I've seen one before in there, but no multiples. Don't worry I have other things appearing/changing that are making me feel the passage of time. Like this year I've noticed a slight wrinkly texture in my kneck area. I know there's a name for it...anyway, the skin is definitly changing. Ugh, and I swear I've already gotten my first age spoys on my left hand. They weren't there before & don't look like birthmarks.

I used to color my hair in the auburn/red tones but stopped 6 years ago when I went to short hair. With the short hairstyles, better products, and flat ironing, my natural dark brown finally looked good. But last couple haircuts I was tempted to color. Maybe next one....

And did I miss the PICTURE of this new color? ;). (These days I usually come here thru FB on my phone)

Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

I've gone salt and pepper... or maybe salt and 'still crummy brownish'. The last time I donated my hair (it's really thick, so I think of it as a renewable resource), I was told that if it's more than 5% grey it can't be used. Hmmmm, next time around it will be at least 60 or 70% grey.....

Michelle said...

I colored my hair for the first time ever last year. Not because of the gray that is scattered through it ~ I didn't mind that ~ but simply because I was 47 years old and had never colored my hair before. LOL! I did choose the color of my youth, red, because I was always satisfied with that color. Thought about trying blonde, the color of my childhood, but the red is a bit more forgiving in regard to showing the roots.

Jill said...

Funny. I found my first at about the same YEAR as you. I was 19. But mine wasn't gray. It's white. I'm betting with my dark hair like Dad's, I'll be snowy white, too. I've only found the one, coming up on 10 years later, but, we shall see.

JazznJenna said...

I'm kicking and screaming, too, but I've finally stopped plucking. There are too many now. I'm more worried though about turning out like my 2 red haired aunts that have practically gone bald (like their dad), because I would rather be gray than bald. I still haven't decided if I'll ever dye my hair...who could match or improve on my natural color? I like it the way it is. Only time will tell.

I'll say at least one thing for you though...you have a knack for looking so cute in your hair cuts, however you choose to have them done!

quiltfool said...

Funny that Jenna talked about going bald. I am bald. I started losing my hair in my early 20's and by the end of my 30's, it was all gone. Didn't bother me a bit. But, that first gray chest hair drove me nuts! I know, you don't have to worry about that. But, needless to say, I have always fought old age and still do and rarely concede to it...unless it's convenient to say I'm too old to do whatever I don't want to do. Oddly, I still feel like I did in my 20's. Apparently the brain knows no age. So, think you're young. Lane

mom again said...

I didn't color my hair until I was in my fifties for the first time. I never thought I would. It was only on occasion for quite a while after that, that I colored. My gray is mostly around my face and so with bangs and a forward do, thanks to my youngest daughter, my color lasted about ten weeks without any trouble at all. If it would all go gray I thhink I would happily let it go that way.

Angie said...

I found my first grey hair the day my oldest was born! Don't tell me ME kids don't give em to you! Since then they have shown up now and then until about the last 2 years...now it's getting ugly! I can't wear pony tails in public anymore because my temples are about %25 white and I just don't want to look like Frankenstien's bride! The problem with my hair is it is naturally very dark so the white ones practically GLOW! I don't want to dye my hair because the color of my hair is the one thing I truly like about my physical form. I have thought about adding blond highlights but to do that, I will have to cut most of the length off because I don't want to look like a zebra, ya know? The man is bucking the idea of my having much shorter hair but he also think it's fun to pull out the grey ones! So for now we are at an impass until I can't stand it anymore and make an appointment with my ever capable hairdresser.