Many thanks to August McLaughlin for organizing the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, inviting the world to participate with tributes and stories. Check out her blog: http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/beauty-of-a-woman-blogfest/
“Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. Guess What? They don’t.” a quote by a friend of my Dad’s a few days before her death from a terminal illness
One day when I was about 38, I dropped in to a beauty shop for a haircut, hoping as usual to find a miracle worker who would fix my hair, and quite possibly my life. Don’t get me wrong. My life was pretty good. What is it with so many of us, wanting things to be better? Taller, thinner, busty-er, straight hair, curly hair, light skin, dark skin, something, anything.
Back to the day at the beauty parlor: I walked into this shop and was welcomed by an attractive older Asian woman with platinum blonde hair. Should have been my first hint, but I wanted a haircut, and so submitted to the smock and the chair.
She sat me down, looked at the top of my head and drew in her breath sharply.
“Ah! Grrey hair!” She said this with such an alarm and pity, I completely forgot I was only there for a trim and a blow dry.
It was true, there were discolored strands up there, and it wasn’t as if I hadn’t considered coloring them. No one would say my hair is my strongest feature, but in its youth, it was at least a nice color, and I wasn’t too proud to consider trying to hang on to that vestige of an earlier age. Also, I’d noticed that women who let their hair grow gray go through a scary-looking phase, with wild strands kinking from the roots like snakes in the grass. This hair dresser was having none of that.
Three hours later, drenched in sweat and reeking of eau d’ammonia, I walked out a blond.
My husband, who was supposed to pick me up, drove right by. When I waved and smiled, his jaw dropped. He tried to be nice, but it was clear he was going to need some adjusting to a new color in the house. He had a not-sure-how-I’m-supposed-to-respond look that reminded me of the day early in our marriage when I showed up with light-colored contact lenses (I have dark brown eyes). Just joking dear?
Time passed. I tried other colors: reddish brown, then a tannish color because someone told me it helped disguise grow-outs, then something close to my original color, then highlights, and then went back to blonde again. I visited the reputed best “colorists” in town, and paid a lot of money.
Coloring my hair turned into kind of a production. It looked fake for a week, then pretty good for another two, then the roots started to show, but the hairdresser didn’t want to see me once a month. Not good for your hair, she said. Also, I worried about what all the hair dye that washes down the drain does to the water supply.
One day I was chatting with a friend, who stopped the conversation, looked at my hair and said, “Your hair looks really nice. I like the blonde. I can see though that you have a little gray. That looks nice, too. I bet it would look just as good if you grew it out. Here,” he said, scribbling down a phone number on a scrap of paper. “My wife and I go to this woman to get our hair cut. I think you’d like her.”
Maybe it was just my mood that day, or the way he said it, but I took that piece of paper and did just what he said.
What a relief.
The new hair dresser promised that if I looked washed-out as a Gray (some people do), she’d tell me and color it again. She never has. I remember the day when she ceremonially held up the scissors and said, “The last of the blond!” and away it went, under her broom.
I’ve never looked back.
Granted, I look older, but gray hair has brought many gifts: waves for one. My hair has gone from straight to a little curly. Also, I don’t need to blow dry anymore. This makes camping and swimming in lakes a rediscovered pleasure. My husband, given his druthers, would probably choose a lake-swimmer over a brunette. Lucky me.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine with women coloring their hair. Almost everyone I know colors, and many look better for it. Also, it’s not as if I don’t have other vanities.
This is just one of the surprises life brought: looking young is fine, but so is looking old, and if you get hung up about one or the other, you can end up spending a lot of time and money you don’t need to.
Also, honest friends are worth more than gold.
Here I am! Just kidding.
I would love to hear your stories and thoughts about women, beauty, hair and hair coloring. How much does what we look like matter? Don’t miss August’s great post kicking off Beauty of a Woman, or the many wonderful stories it links to, from both men and women.