Embracing the Gray

Since no one has asked me about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2015, I guess I’ll have to announce them myself. You may be thinking I’m rather late in bringing them up, but in reality what I am really doing is congratulating myself on keeping my most important resolution. I’ve decided to embrace the gray–hair, that is.

last year

last year… (okay, maybe the year before…)

I’ve colored my hair off and on for at least 5 years, one time even being somewhat of a red-head, but for the most part, I have had my hair lightened, and during the year of 2014, I had the ‘foil treatment’ where the stylist takes layers of hair and brushes color on certain sections, lets it sit for an amount of time, and presto, I am beautiful and of course, much younger looking–at least that is the desired effect. Some gray hair had been creeping in and I really did not care for it, so, I followed popular convention and had it taken care of (hidden).

I originally had made the promise to myself that at age 60 all color treatments would cease. Sixty hit and I was still too chicken to follow through. Sixty-one hit and I was ready.

What caused the change in thinking? I no longer wanted to spend the money and I didn’t like what the chemicals did to my hair, but most of all, it was an acceptance of myself. I’m getting older, I’m getting gray hair. So what. And going hand in hand with the acceptance is a pushing back on what our culture sees as young, attractive, and acceptable. One way our culture is shaped is through advertising, and advertising says if you want to be perceived as valuable and worthy of attention, you must buy into the lie. Advertising likes to point out what we are ‘lacking’–to make us unhappy and discontented with what we own and who we are.

Advertising tells us we should have a larger house, more attractive furnishings, a new car, whiter teeth, a skinnier body, more beautiful hair, clearer skin, enough clothes and shoes that we need a walk in closet, a perfect lawn (we are trying), and hair devoid of that dreaded gray. Gray haired people are portrayed as bumbling and stumbling around, someone to be pitied, ignored or treated as children. Their time is no more and for all the knowledge and experience they have, they’re no match for the younger generation.  *Pfffffttt* (raspberries) to that.

Yeah, I’ve got some gray hairs, big deal. My husband had been saying for a couple of years that I didn’t have that much— stop the coloring, let it go. He’s right, I don’t have that much, maybe like 10%? My new mantra is ‘grow and glow’. Let the light shine! Let that gray hair represent the ‘me’ that refuses to let others define who I am and what I should look like. Oh, no tattoos though, or wearing pyjama bottoms paired up with Crocs in public–I never said sloppy or unkempt. Just me. I just need to be me. Take that Madison Avenue!

last year

Not much changed. Pencil in a few grays if you want.

And you know, there is freedom in saying “no” to the lie. There is freedom in saying, “This is me. I’ve been through a lot, I’m no fool. I have a lot to offer, I’m good enough, and I’m going to celebrate who I am. If you don’t like the way I am, then go away, I don’t want to be around you either.”

Here’s to celebrating what we have become and having the wisdom to enjoy it.