At noon on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, I announced to my hair stylist that this would be my last visit for colour. I’m growing out my grey.
She was understandably horrified.
This is not a decision I’ve arrived at flippantly. In fact, I commit to (and make public) this decision with knee-knocking fear and a boat-load of doubt.
Let’s refer to my hair stylist as “Barb” …because that’s her name.
Barb figured I had a good reason to make this big decision and she became willing, after a while, to hear it. In essence, it’s a two-year experiment to help me understand both the Biblical view and our culture’s view of grey hair. I could – and will – interview those who have gone through this process, but I also want to experience this myself. How will this affect others’ behaviour towards me, how will I feel about myself, will it increase the generation gap between me and my daughters, what will my husband think when I look 10+ years his senior… etc. etc.
I want to challenge what up till now has been a *need* to cover my grey. I can’t help thinking, once again, there’s a better way.
As I said in my previous post, I am on a quest to discover/develop a foundational understanding of beauty. I know it’s important to God because he has breathed wisdom into scripture on the subject of beauty… and hair is a big part of the beauty equation.
Our culture has equated beauty with youth and doing everything we can to maintain it. This means we’re fighting a losing battle from the get-go because – newsflash – none of us will stay young. It’s actually impossible. And yet, we are continually “anti-aging,” putting on the aforementioned creams, getting surgery, colouring our hair, resenting inevitable signs of aging, hating ourselves for not living up to an impossible ideal.
The Bible gives a place of honour not only to the aged, but specifically to grey hair.
Proverbs 16:31 (MSG) says, “Grey hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life.”
It’s honourable to have grey hair. It is an award, a mark of distinction. Some translations call it a crown of glory and splendor.
Why do I have a standing appointment to cover up my crown of glory every 4 weeks? I want to grow out my splendor.
I expect this will be a painful process because, as my friend Marguerite, who has done this already, says, “It gets ugly before it gets better.” And I don’t know if I can yet claim the better part.
So I make sure to soak in the lasts of my colour appointment with Barb. The cold paint on my scalp, being forced to relax for 45 minutes while the colour takes, the luxurious shampoo and head massage…
As Barb works her magic one final time, we talk about beauty. It’s a complicated thing because where is the line between caring about your appearance and vanity? I honestly can’t say at this point.
Barb says she isn’t against aging. “Aging is beautiful!” She’s generally against plastic surgery, but – don’t tell anyone – would be open to getting botox herself. She feels she has a wrinkle developing in her forehead that she thinks makes her look angry and it’s reflective of something she’s not.
Except I can’t even see the line she’s talking about.
She thinks I’m too young to go grey. Underneath Barb’s fabulous, funky burgundy hair, she is covering her own head of grey hair – she went prematurely grey in her 20s. She leaves me to let the colour take and to contemplate her use of the word “premature.” I was in my 20s too when I started going grey. Wonder how many of us there are.
As I pass the time, I pose the question on Facebook, “For those of you who colour your hair, have you ever considered going grey?” The responses come fast and furious and a complete range of answers. (Oh, y’all didn’t know your comments were fodder for my blog?) Here is a sampling:
- Nope! Hair dye is ‘in our budget till death do we part’!
- Have thought about it many times because of cost but nope “grey” is not one of my colours.
- …have always hated the inequity of the sexes when it comes to youthfulness…one of these days, I just might give the world the finger (the male half anyway) and do it…if my daughter was 20 and not 2, I might consider doing it sooner….until then it is Loreal #51…
- NO! I’m going to fight the grey hair until I’m too old to go buy the box of colour!! Even then, I’ll make one of my kids go get it. Of course vanity and societal expectations keep me from taking that step. And, well, I just don’t want to look older.
- If we all did it, we’d prove that aging gracefully has nothing to do with hair colour!
- Um … you first.
Also, can you imagine the conversations we’ve had at home about this? My family is absolutely sick of me. J-M has reluctantly agreed because, I’m guessing, a happy grey-haired wife is better than a frustrated brunette. Mallory says she’s OK with it except she resents having to explain to her friends when I have 6″ roots that her Mom’s not really that weird. Sophia’s answer gave me pause, “I don’t want you to look so old that I won’t relate. I’m afraid I’ll notice all the old things about you rather than all the fun, young things.” I can’t say that won’t happen, but I want to challenge that because – and this is a theme for another post – what makes us think old is negative?
Barb unveils my colour for the last time. I think it’s fitting that I’m “bronde,” neither blonde nor brunette. I document the event. Barb is definitely forcing her smile.
As I pay ONE FINAL TIME for hair colour, I tell Barb – and Kristin at reception – “You know and I know that mid-winter is going to hit hard. I’m going to have half a head of grey roots and an extremely depleted self-esteem. When I come in and desperately say either cut it off or colour it all…”
Barb interjects, “We’ll be strong for you… even if we don’t want to be.”