Another One

This is one of those posts. Hair post. Age post. A thinking-it-through post. And an I'm-making-myself-vulnerable-and-likely-to-scare-off-readers post.

I've decided to throw off society's expectations and, gasp, stop colouring my grey. It's not been a quick decision. I've written about this before and I'm likely to write about it again.

My own misconceptions - and those of society - keep tripping me up. So often when a "younger" woman allows her grey to show it is thought that she doesn't care, is lazy, or unable to afford to make herself look "acceptable". None of the above applies to me.

It's a conscious decision and a scary one. I wrestle with it every day. There's a box of henna still sitting in my linen cupboard and several times a week I'm tempted to use it.

I miss the shine that henna gives my hair. And I miss the illusion of youth. For along with society's expectations that women won't grow old, there is also my own feeling of loss that I'm struggling with. I'm mourning the loss of my natural hair colour (which I quite like) and which I associate with youth and whatever beauty I may have once had.

It's proof that in this fallen world I'm growing old and I don't like it. Along with the grey hairs are other signs of aging. The loss of skin tone. The droop to the chin. The lack of muscle tone that is a result of age and gravity. The ever increasing wrinkles around the eyes (and probably elsewhere if I had the courage to look at myself in a really good light). All signs that tell me and others that I've been on this earth longer than just a few years - even if it doesn't feel that long.

So why am I considering letting my grey show?

There are several reasons.

I have dark hair and I'd like to keep it but I've noticed that chemically dyed dark hair often looks harsh against an aging skin tone. I could go lighter but lighter wouldn't be me anymore than blue or purple would be me.

The root problem or skunk effect. It requires a lot of upkeep to keep that tell-tale line always hidden. Many don't achieve it. As a person with perfectionist tendencies, it would drive me insane.

Using chemicals. To date I've used herbal henna because I don't like putting chemicals on my scalp every other month. But over recent months I've begun to feel that the henna no longer looks natural (too much grey in some areas) and I'm not prepared to switch to pure henna. I'd just have to deal with the root problem if I did and possibly more red than I would like.

Hair that is unnatural looking. I value my natural colour and I turned to herbal henna because I believed that it could help me keep my natural colour. But my greys have now taken on a muddy blonde quality and I don't like the effect at all. And chemical colour isn't necessarily the answer. With very grey hair an unnatural hue can develop in some lights - which is another good reason to stop before I reach that point.

Length. I love my long hair. Okay, there are days it drives me crazy and I think of chopping it all off, but overall, I love having long hair. Colouring hair this length would be a nightmare. Getting the same colour each time would be a challenge. And anyway, I don't want to colour all my hair - just the grey. I want the rest to stay as it's always been (oh for a magic pill to take all that grey away and leave the rest).

Honesty. I've said that if my grey hair looked like such-and-such's I wouldn't colour it but I've come to realise that this is a cop out. I'm not prepared to admit that I don't like growing old; I don't like my grey; I don't like going against society's expectations. I will admit that I do dislike my grey pattern. Some people are fortunate to have grey sprinkled throughout. I think that's pretty. Mine, on the other hand, stubbornly insists on appearing in three places. I have a stripe near my left temple which I kind of like, and then there's a dark stripe, followed by two white stripes either side of my part which to me are ugly. (My darling husband says that it's not even noticeable - the man is blind but I do love him!) But I've discovered that by parting my hair differently I can minimise the stripe effect. (Even an old person like me can learn new tricks!)

Authenticity. I have grey hair. Whether I colour it or not, others will know that I have grey hair (those roots again!). I may look older than others around me, but what is wrong with looking my age? I'm in my forties, and a grandmother, surely I've earned a few grey hairs? Why is it that I don't want to let my grey show? Vanity? Pride? Inability to accept that I'm getting older? I don't know but there's a part of me that wants to be honest. Authentic. To have the courage to say, "This is how I truly am and I'm not ashamed."

Well maybe just a little ashamed. It's hard going grey in a coloured world.

For anyone else interested in letting their grey, silver, slate, charcoal, or whatever colour you'd like to call it show and who might need a little encouragement go here and here.


Jen said…
I have been finding more and more white hairs lately. My grandmother had completely white hair in her late 40's. I'm honestly not sure what I will do if I keep finding more white hairs. The whole idea of having to keep up with coloring sounds like a royal pain. I like the idea of henna, but I just did henna about a week ago and it was a huge mess! I can't imagine having to do that every 6 weeks. But I don't know if I want white hair either. I can understand your mix of emotions! We live in such a crazy society where youth is celebrated, but age is considered bad. That sure doesn't help matters any does it! I'm sure you will look beautiful whatever you choose :).
SchnauzerMom said…
I hate growing older too. In my mind I'm still in my late 20's, early 30's. But the mirror says otherwise. I'm on your side, cheering you all the way!
Ah, making oneself vulnerable and talking about things that effect us all is what makes for a good blogger. :)

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