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I counted them this morning – three gray hairs – one for each man in my life (hubby & 2 kids). They are right at the front where my bangs start, where everyone can see them. All clustered together as though they were conspiring. I’ve plucked them out a few times, but I fear, more will follow…and if I keep plucking, I’ll have a bald spot.

“The good die young, and the old dye for various reasons” ~Anonymous. I’ve tried different colours – carrot red in high school, ox-blood red in college, and finally auburn off and on from there (the “off” was usually when I got tired of having to do it every few weeks). When little guy came along, I cut my hair (which had grown down to my waist) and dyed it back to mousy brown. I knew I wouldn’t have time to keep up with it!  I tried blonde highlights only once. I endured having bits of hair threaded through a rubber cap and sitting in a cloud of fumes waiting for gorgeous results. But the results were far from gorgeous. It turns out there’s enough red pigmentation in my hair that the first application turned my hair pink, and not a pretty pink! I had to endure the pulling and the cloud again, ending up mostly blonde (in pictures it looks gray).

I actually started dyeing my hair because I hated my dull, boring, mousy brown hair, not because I wanted to cover my gray hairs – those are actually quite new. It might have been because my hair colour reflected what I saw as my personality – dull and mousy. And it might have been because of something I read in high school. While I can’t remember who said it or the exact words, the overall idea stuck with me. The general message was this: blondes have more fun, red-heads have more passion…and brunettes make good wives. Does that mean “good wives” have neither fun nor passion; in fact that we have nothing to offer except loyalty to our family and home? Nuts to that – I want all three!

Alas! the gray has started to make an appearance, and I know it is here to stay.  To dye or not to dye – that’s been an ongoing debate since the 1950’s. Is going gray the equivalent of letting oneself go? Or does artificial hair colour strip women of authenticity? Did you know that in a 2007 study conducted by l’Oréal Canada, 59% of Canadian women older than 14 years of age colour their hair? And there’s a whole new demographic being targeted by hair colour companies – GHOSTs – Grey Haired Over-Stressed Twenty Somethings.  Just thinking about all the social and personal implications stresses me out…and who knows what could be popping up on top as a result! English writer P. G. Wodehouse once wrote that there’s really only one cure for the gray. “It was invented by a Frenchman…”It’s called the guillotine.” Ouch!

Still I think Bill Cosby was on to something when he wrote “gray hair is God’s graffiti”. I think there are more and more women who are saying “I know I’m worth it” and they’re not referring to their hair colour. They share the philosophy that it all begins with wholly accepting ourselves and all the beautiful things that come along with getting older, including gray hair. “Only God, my dear, could love you for yourself alone, and not your yellow hair,” -WB Yeats

To dye or not to dye may be an existential question, and I don’t have an answer. Guess I’ll pull out my tweezers and solve this riddle another day!