As many people do, I set a goal or two every year. A new year’s resolution. An aspiration. A hope. And I can proudly say that my 2022 goal has been met with a few days to spare. No, it’s not that elusive lower number on the scale. Nor is it finally finishing the sequel to my book. Nope.
I finally gave up the Sisyphusian struggle and stopped touching up my hair. Slowly. Timidly. Gradually. I let it turn white.
Like many women, I’ve been coloring my hair to camouflage the gray since the first little strands appeared in my late thirties. At that time, a little “frosting” did the trick. But as years went by, it wasn’t enough. So, throughout my forties, fifties, and sixties Brandy–my trusted hairdresser/friend–touched up my roots and occasionally added a few highlights.
Nonetheless, as I tipped (tripped, stumbled) over into my seventies, I despaired at how quickly the white roots grew into that wide skunk stripe accompanied by those white sidewalls. I also began to worry about how long we (she and I) should/could keep it up. While I saw some older women keeping their hair dark–sometimes even darker than it had been in their youth. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. Others, I noted, had simply let the white take over. And they looked lovely.
Granted, the COVID shut-down of the hair salons would have been the perfect time to let it go (and I did for a while), but I just HATED how it looked. I wasn’t ready. It was not the beautiful salt and pepper I’d hoped for. No, instead I saw mangy-looking clumps and splotches of gray. Hence, I wore a scarf–Rosie the Riveter style–to hide the roots. That didn’t last long and I eventually touched up my own roots and avoided mirrors until salons reopened.
But with the passing of another two years–and those white roots appearing ever more quickly–I was finally ready to let it go. I was simply done with the effort to maintain that particular illusion. I consulted Pinterest first, as one does. Then I chatted with my hairdresser. After thirty years, she knows my baby-fine and fragile hair and that baby steps would be required. Any drastic change—like stripping all the color at once—would result in most of my hair landing in the sink. Plus, I wanted to look good throughout the process. Or at least good as I could in my seventies. So at each successive appointment, she would weave lighter and lighter shades into what was left of my “natural” brunette hair Over the last ten months, I became increasingly blonde.
Every six weeks we’d decide what was needed. A little more weave? Just a toner? Nothing? If I chickened out at any point we could go back to brunette, but I liked it more and more as time went on.
And this month I made it. The process is finished. Whew.
Below you can see the transformation, from 1955-2022. As Madeleine L’Engle said, “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” And while I’m getting used to seeing my mother in the mirror more often, it’s still me. For better or worse.
With this accomplishment in the rear-view mirror, maybe I can move on to those other goals. Perhaps now I can entice the scale down into the next decade. Or finish a draft of the sequel to Us, Now and Then. Or even solve the puzzle of the TV remotes.
Nonetheless, a new worry has cropped up. At my advanced age, it may be hard to discern if any decline in my cognitive ability is due to extreme age or extreme blondness. Stay tuned.
2 thoughts on “Letting go (with a little help from my friend)”
You look lovely! I’m in my mid thirties, and my grays started showing up when I was in school. First it was just one here and one there. By my late twenties I had they were pretty visible. I’ve colored my hair a few times and it does feel good. But somehow I prefer my natural look. When I look at myself in the mirror and apply the society standards, I stand no chance. I don’t use makeup – not even a foundation or lipstick. But then when I look through my eyes, I am happy! I’m glad you achieved your goal! Here’s to a healthy and happy life 😊
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I admire women like you who are comfortable and happy with your natural self. I don’t go much past the mailbox without make-up on. It’s for me, not for anyone else. There will likely come a time when the law of diminishing returns causes me to reevaluate my habits, but today is not that day. Take care. XO
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