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Friday, May 1, 2009

Crossing the color line

When I was in my 20's, I had ideas for how my life was going to work and generally didn't have any trouble sharing my life's expectations with family, friends and co-workers. One of the things I was adamant about was that, when the time came, I would gray gracefully. I would not fall into the vanity of coloring my hair.

That coming from a 20-something is like a single woman declaring "When I have children, they will not run around the grocery store like heathens, they will be perfectly behaved in restaurants, and they will never talk back to me." Lofty goals, unlikely reality.

Sometime in my early 30s, I started coloring a bit just for the fun of going auburn or experimenting with blondish highlights. It really wasn't about hiding anything.

Now 18 years and 3 children after my bold declaration about graying, the hormones, the years, and the stress from both of those things have done a number on my hair. On the top, the strands of gray are becoming more prevalent. Why is that the gray hairs are the crazy-whack-funky ones that stand straight up or kink in four different directions?

I'll admit to having colored my hair on several occasions for the purpose of preserving my youth. Usually the color came from a box. Sometimes from a salon. But for the past four or five months, I've been going back to that "gray gracefully" theory. I work in a place that's all about positive aging, for crying out loud. So shouldn't I embrace my age instead of try to cover it up?

Well...that sounds good. However, the fact of the matter is that we're not talking about a few straggly grays in the crown of my head. Nope. The sides of my head are almost completely white. It's most noticeable when I wear my sunglasses like a headband (frequently) or when I tuck my hair behind my ears (almost always). Mike said I look like Paulie Walnuts from the Sopranos:

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We talk a lot at work about successful aging. And I think that perhaps that means growing old on your own terms, aging in a way that you are comfortable with.

If that's an accurate definition, then I plan to be incredibly successful tomorrow with a box of Clairol Natural Instincts #20 Hazelnut.


Joanie said...

I love, love, love that people think I'm in my 40s (I'm 53). Of course, if I stopped coloring my hair, I'd be almost completely white (not gray, WHITE!).

I have toyed with the idea of not coloring my hair any more, but so far, I haven't succumbed to it.

You do what you feel is right for you.

Annie said...

Loud and clear!!! I turned 31 in December and found my first white hair shortly thereafter. Now I have several and I'm not too pleased with it. Luckily I'm a dark blond, so some light blond high lights should help them blend in for awhile. Ugh. I love my natural color, but am not ready to embrace the new natural color coming in!

Nate's Mom said...

I hear you! I turned 36 yesterday and it's time to buy another box. I have the straggly white hairs that stick straight up at my temples. When I color my hair, they take less color and look like highlights. That I can handle, white, I'm not old enough for that, lol.


Anonymous said...

With any luck I'll be like my Dad and Papaw... My papaw just got grey hair and he's in his 80's and my Dad is 63 and has hardly any grey hair! If not, I'll be buying stock in Clairol!

Anonymous said...

I just now read your comment about being in Indiana. That IS Awesome! We definitely should try to meet up sometime. Here is my email:

I was just telling my husband about your John Denver post and how it was funny that I only thought my family liked John Denver and that I never would have thought someone thousands of miles away would share such a silly interest....and now I realize you're an hour and a half away. That's funny!

Anonymous said...

Don't make me post my own pictures. I'm definitely MORE grey than you and I'm 8 years younger...Needless to say, I have NO intention on greying gracefully - I'll be in the casket with a bottle in my hand! :)

staskym said...

i am 49 with a 10 & 11 year old last year i decided to go cold turkey, i am not one to color hair by myself and as long as mine is 100+ dollars and that is a lot of money
WELL..... after several times where the boys (our version of a mid-life crises) friends asked are you his grandma i have decided to hand over the extortion money and just do it i am over 50% gray at this point. i keep thinking i will do it myself but no i just don't think i can
to each his own, the teenager has several friends that their mothers let their hair go gray and a couple of them look so much younger!!! yes younger so i would do what ever you think is best for you

Anonymous said...

I was lamenting into the bathroom mirror about this very thing. I said to my son who was watching.."Look at all this gray hair on top of mommies head". He said "if you think that's bad than you should see the back!"...out of the mouths of babes. LOL

kimybeee said...

I always said the same thing as well, but at age 37, I am probably about 65% gray, and I don't want to be confused as my 13 and 15 year olds grandma. You go girl!!


Marine Wife said...

I got my first kinky white hairs in college. (The texture is different which is why they look & behave differently) And mine is wherever I part my hair! Well, when it's getting time to touch up the roots anyway.