Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Does She or Doesn't She? Only her hairdresser knows for sure

In my early 30's my hairdresser talked me into coloring my hair. I wasn't planning on it, but she convinced me to try it and well, once you do, it is so hard to let it grow out, especially with dark hair. So I continued to color it, and every so often, I would bring up letting the color grow out and the hairdresser would go on and on about how I would looked washed out and I would hate it. So it took me awhile before I took charge of my hair and did what I wanted to do, instead of listening to her negativity. Of course if I stopped coloring my hair, she would also lose income, and I was sure that was a factor for her talking me out of it.

The transformation from a brunette to gray(or completely white hair) was a very interesting one. The kids at school were the first ones to comment. One boy pulled me aside when the white hair was really starting to show and said, "Ms. I am sorry that you are getting old." I laughed and explained to him that I was still the same age, and if my hair were turning purple, I would still be the same age.

A couple of the autistic children stopped talking to me because they no longer recognized me. When I "re-introduced" myself to one of the girls, she went on about how I got old. Her teacher quickly shushed her fearing that she was embarrassing me, but I wasn't embarrassed, because I was still the same age.

Our culture equates gray hair with oldness, and there are many people who are not old with gray hair. People believe that old and gray go together like horse and carriage. Well, it does... and it doesn't.

When I was going through my transformation, it was about the time that Taylor Hicks was on American Idol and he was getting flack for his gray hair. He did not succumb to the pressure to dye it completely, and he was a good example of a young person with gray hair and boy did I talk that up with the kids.

When my hair finally turned to white, many women complimented me on it, saying that if they could be sure their hair would look as good, they would stop coloring it in a minute. Some of the women who made those comments were gorgeous women who would be beautiful no matter what color their hair was... but they did not believe in themselves enough to know that.

A friend of mine is married to a woman whose hair turned white in her early 20's and she decided not to color it. She loved that I was natural now and shared with me how when her kids were little, a teacher told her to color her hair because she was embarrassing her children by looking so old. Her kids never knew her without white hair and didn't really notice it. It wasn't an issue for them, but it sure it was one for the teacher it seems.

So after 2 years of this transformation and enlightenment all do to having my hair go natural... I decided to get it low-lighted tonight. Not sure why... just needed a change. It wasn't to make me feel younger, because nothing would make me feel younger. So there I sat while the hairdresser pulled my hair out of a little cap and then painted chemicals on it. All the while the smell made me sick just like it used to, and then I sat under a steamer that made my eyes burn while waiting for the hair to process. I then remembered what I hated about having my hair colored....

The hairdresser was satisfied with the end result, but I don't think it looks that good. Sort of looks like dirty hair if you ask me. I think she should have gone darker, which is what I wanted, but she was scared to try it the first time so dark.

So tomorrow I go into work. Will the autistic children not recognize me again? Will they think I have become younger? Will anyone notice at all?

And what really makes me feel old is the title of this post, how many of you remember that commercial?


Rosie said...

I don't plan on coloring my gray. I only have 1 or 2 right now, but I think it is part of who I am, so I am leaving it alone. Plus, it makes me happy. I think it makes me look wise.

Anne said...

You're the bravest woman in America. I sometimes think about letting my hair be natural, but I'm afraid I have a Cruella Deville white stripe in my dark hair. And I don't think the dark dye is healthy. Still, who cares about health as long as you don't look old, right?

You have a wonderful attitude and I wish I could catch it. However, my daughter has asked me to keep coloring my hair until I'm a grandmother. That seems like a reasonable timeline, though she is only 12.

What did the children think?

CJM-R said...

My kids were in their 20's when I talked about wanting to stop coloring my hair. They were all for it, couldn't understand the big deal, as they kept telling me that "everyone knows you dye your hair."

My husband liked it better, too. He didn't go for the fake color. And it was much softer when I let it go natural.

It is only hair...

Anonymous said...

I love this post - I could have written it myself. I have done all the same things and am still struggling with my white/gray hair after almost 3 years. The most encouraging thing was your reference to having your hair lowlighted and remembering why you hated getting your hair colored in the first place - my sentiments exactly. It's tough watching people older than I am get younger everyday thanks to Botox, hair color, lasers and plastic surgeries, but when I see them up close it doesn't look real and often looks ridiculous. Thanks for the encouragement - good looks and youth don't come out of a bottle.

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