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Going gray: Showing my true colors

close up curls

I don’t like fake things. Never have. I guess that’s why ever since I started regularly coloring my hair a little more than a year or so ago (before that I would do occasional color “rinses”), I felt a little bit like an impostor, like I was wearing a mask. I’m lucky, in a sense. I inherited my mother’s hair genes (as opposed to her colon genes, thank God), and so my hair didn’t even begin to gray until I neared 50, and even then, it was just a sprinkling of silver strands in a riot of curls. Not very noticeable. But our culture tells women to fear the gray. Any gray.

As soon as the silver started to increase to a point where it was hard to miss, curls long shotmy (former) hairstylist started telling me how to best cover them up. I suggested that maybe it might be kind of cool to just let my hair grow into its natural color and she said, “It’s not time for that yet,” like I was terminally ill or something. Some of you who come here frequently may remember that this same hairstylist — about 10 weeks ago — insisted on dyeing my hair a darker color than I wanted and threw on a few subtle insults for good measure, which I posted about HERE because I was pretty devastated by it. Little did I know, she was doing me a huge favor.

I refused to go back to her and not only pay to be treated like that but tip her for it as well. Yeah, I did that. And so six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks went by, and some silver curls started to re-emerge. And I realized I liked what I was seeing and didn’t want to hide it anymore. So I found a new hairstylist and went there yesterday. And she got me. Not just my curls but my color. Told me not to do anything, just go another eight weeks and see what happens because, truth be told, my gray still isn’t that heavy and you can’t really notice a drastic difference between curls scalpwhat’s colored and what’s natural. I feel an excited anticipation over what’s around the bend. Like I’m awaiting an impending birth of sorts, or rebirth. My own.

Now, maybe I’ll hate it and change my mind. It’s possible, I suppose. Gray curly hair is even curlier and coarser than regular curly hair, which is saying something. So I may run into some issues as it becomes fully gray, but I think that could take years. And when it does happen, I may do something totally off-the-wall, like adding in a blue or purple streak.

And I might, as I grow out the hair that’s been colored, have to do something to help bridge the gap — highlights, lowlights, some sort of lights that will make the demarcation between old hair and new a little less obvious during the growing-out process, but we’ll wait and see. (You can see the silvery regrowth starting to show in that close-up of my scalp up there. How’s that for a selfie?) For now, I’m doing nothing. Just not-so-patiently waiting to see what I really look like. It’s scary but empowering.

When I told Dennis about this decision, his reaction was this: It doesn’t matter what color my hair is, as long as I keep my curls. No wonder I love that guy.

So in honor of my newly embraced self, here’s a favorite song:

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Arlene #

    Embrace the gray sister! It is empowering. Glad my girls convinced me to let it grow! Yes it is coarser and maybe not in vogue. But we have worked hard for them.

    February 27, 2014
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      I’m really excited about it. I find myself smiling when I look in the mirror and see some of shiny strands showing through now.

      February 27, 2014
  2. I hate the way society treats growing old as an illness or something.

    February 27, 2014
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      I agree! I want to embrace my age and my experience and my wisdom — and my gray!

      February 27, 2014
  3. Shelly #

    I am 67 and when mr hair began to have silver threads, my stylist suggested I do nothing but embrace it. She said it would be costly as my hair grows very quickly, and I took her advice with no regrets.

    February 27, 2014
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration!

      February 27, 2014
  4. elizabethk #

    Almost 50 – with a 6yo (my youngest) and too was suggested by a stylist it was “too soon” to go natural. And I too have tipped bad stylists! What is up with that!? Okay – maybe, I will finally go for it – for good…though I always kept up on the roots, I KNOW who does and does not…who am I kidding?! Yes – I need to embrace the years lived!! Love your writing!

    ek

    February 27, 2014
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thank you. And, yes, join the revolution!!! Gray is the new black. :-)

      February 27, 2014
  5. As the Hair Traffic Controller at the salon I can still recall being thoroughly annoyed with the stylist who decoded to be mean to you.

    We have a number of fully natural women who come here – a few actually get highlights to keep the hair more white than dull yellow – as you look around you’ll start to notice what I’m talking about.

    Good for you, Mary! :-D

    February 27, 2014
  6. I never went the route of covering up the grey – and my hair is now a peppery salt color (and I have a wonderful hair stylist who embraces grey…). A couple of years ago I went to a conference attended mostly by women (150ish women, 2 men), with talks about women and self-image (Disney princesses anyone). I was fascinated to know that while the group embraced and even stretched difference in many, many ways — I was the ONLY woman in the room with grey hair.

    February 27, 2014
  7. Dennis is a keeper — he loves you as you are, and who could ask for more. (And, I think the curls will be beautiful with gray mixed in).

    February 27, 2014
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      He is a keeper. Loves me for who I am. :-)

      February 27, 2014
  8. Nancy Pardo #

    I like to call mine “Silver Highlights”. However, I still am not ready to embrace them. My dark hair is going through a life cycle. I want to lighten it to blend in the silver and then, I think, I will be ready :-)

    June 26, 2014

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