Now that Dancer Girl’s birthday has come and gone, I am forced to reconcile myself to the notion that I. Am. Next. 46 days to live out until I can no longer claim to be “in my thirties.” It would be more poetic if there were 40 days left, but, oh well.
The contemplation of my impending entrance into my forties as well as an examination of the increasing number of gray hairs suddenly making themselves known in my bangs, led to my picking up Anne Kreamer’s recent book, Going Gray. More than a memoir of Kreamer’s transformation from a committed faux-brunette to a silver-haired woman of a certain age, Going Gray examines our perceptions of aging and society’s reactions to women who dare to go gray. Kreamer reports the reactions of her family and friends to her announcement that she’s decided to stop coloring her hair, her experience with the physical process of growing out the color, and her research regarding how she was perceived in various life-arenas ranging from online dating to job searching. It was an interesting read, particularly since the outcome of all this soul-searching about hair color was not always what I expected.
And since I’ve read Kreamer’s book, I’ve made the effort to notice women around me and their hair color choices. In a large meeting I attended recently, I saw only two women with gray hair, and I’d estimate that all but about five women in attendance were old enough to have had gray hair if they had foregone color treatment. Neither my mother nor mother-in-law is gray, though I know that’s been my own mother’s natural color for over 30 years. The trend toward having colored hair is so strong that I was surprised to see during her response to the State of the Union address on Monday that Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has beautiful, natural gray hair.
And I like what it says about women when they wear their hair gray. To me it says, “I’m confident about who I am and how I look.” In an age of seemingly pervasive anti-aging efforts, from hair color to “mommy makeovers” via plastic surgery, it’s actually refreshing to see someone who doesn’t buy into it all.
Refreshing, but I’m not sure totally convincing. Because my gut reaction to seeing those gray hairs is to immediately, if not sooner, get rid of them. For years, I just casually removed the stray grays. It’s now gotten beyond that, so I’ve moved on to one of my new favorite products, John Frieda’s color glaze. It blends those grays into lovely highlights.
And anyone clicking on the above link might notice my penchant for Avon Anew Clinical Eyelift cream or remember my recent admission to investing in some microdermabrasion sessions. So, how do I reconcile the desire to age gracefully with the equally strong, if not stronger, urge to keep looking good, which, in our society, seems to equate directly to looking young?
I don’t have all the answers, but for now I’ll be keeping up with the color glaze and holding off on the permanent color as well as the permanent surgical procedures!