It’s Only Hair…Right?
(story by Mir, from WouldaShouldaCoulda)
No one is ever going to accuse me of being easy-going; my teenager's favorite thing to say to me, these days, is "Geez, Mom, CHILLAX." (I am, I suspect, the only person with whom she uses that word, and the humor is partially because of that, of course.) I can be a bit persnickety, yes. A little high-strung at times, sure. I have strong opinions on many things. I'm okay with this.
One of the issues on which I cannot be bothered to feel strongly, however, is hair. Hair grows. No hair decision is irreversible; even if you're terribly unhappy with your choice, eventually you can do something else. It's just… not that big of a deal.
To me, this makes sense. To some folks who know me, though, I guess it was a little surprising when I let my young son grow his hair long. Or when I let my daughter dye a streak in hers. But to me, it was a easy way to let the kids have a bit of self-expression in a non-permanent way. Soon enough, society will put pressure on them to look a certain way, to be "presentable" and "professional" and conformist. (I figure that if I let them experiment now, they'll be less inclined to head out to job interviews with crazy hair and multiple nose rings in the future, but who knows.)
My flexibility when it comes to my kids on this issue is even more amusing when you consider that I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to make my own hair look more "normal"—no small feat when you happen to look an awful lot like a poodle is reclining on your skull. I straightened my hair for years, have bounced between very short and very long and everywhere in-between, but in general haven't done anything "drastic," mostly because I have no desire to look anything other than presentable. Maybe mostly professional, even.
Life 'round here has been challenging, lately. I feel like I've been putting out fires for months, playing endless games of catch-up with work, family, just life in general. Last night as I readied myself for a much-needed night out with my husband, I looked in the mirror and cringed at my hair. I'm currently sporting about 3" of steely gray roots mixed into my previously-chestnut curls. There just hasn't been time to deal with it, and it looks like exactly what it is—laziness. I look unkempt. It's pretty much the opposite of my goal.
The logical reaction would be to make an appointment to color my hair, pronto. But… I don't know. I started going gray at about 27. I'm 40 now, and about 50-60% of my hair has turned. I feel like I'm too young to go gray, but I'm also starting to feel like I'm too old to give a damn about it. And who am I trying to impress, anyway? Or am I really worried that someone will see my hair gray and assume I'm 70 instead of 40? I'm no supermodel, sure, but I'm not too worried about being mistaken for a senior citizen just yet.
So let's say I make peace with just being gray and giving up hair color. Do I spend a year+ with two-tone hair, or do I just cut it all off and grow it out, uncolored, fresh? And either way, what happens if I need to do a business thing in the meantime? Short poodle hair, or two-tone hair? And later, assume I grow it out and it's uniform, at least, but it's mostly gray… is that inherently unprofessional? Do I even care? Let's be honest; I work from home most of the time. But will I be viewed as less professional than my colleagues if it's obvious that I don't care what color my hair is, anymore?
Also: Why is it okay for men to be gray, but not women? My husband isn't quite as gray as I am, just yet, but do you know what it looks like, on him? Dead sexy. And not inappropriate or unprofessional at all. Men look distinguished when they go gray, maybe even especially if they go gray early. But us women, I don't know. It seems like there's a wave of women now kind of "owning" being gray, but I feel like most of them are 50+. What's a graying 40-year-old to do?
To gray, or not to gray? Buck the system, or buckle to vanity? Is there a third option? How do I choose?
(There's more Mir here)