6.09.2014

FIFTEEN SHADES OF GRAY (part 1)

I've been thinking about something for about six months - a decision that, on the surface, seems easy to make.  However, because of society's standards....I've wavered.

On some days, I'm sure I want to make this change.  On other days, it seems...well, unacceptable.  Or, at least unwise.  I mentioned to a friend the other day what I was considering, and she immediately shook her head.  "Oh, no, you don't want to do that.  You won't like it, I promise you, you won't like it."

Hmmm.  I mentioned it to another friend, who said, "Why do you want to do that?  Oh God, no."

A third friend said this:  "Oh, gosh, I couldn't do it.  I don't know if I'll ever do it."

These reactions surprised me.  I assumed friends would be more encouraging.  I hate to think I might have to walk this journey alone.

When I tell you what I'm considering doing, you might laugh.  Or, say, Oh, who cares what others think?  Or, say, Oh God, no, why do you want to do that?

I'm going to stop coloring my hair.

What is your first reaction upon reading that?  (I really want to know.  Please leave your letter choice in the comment box.)

a.  Are you nuts?
b.  You're going to look 10 years older.  ACK!
c.  Oh my goodness.  Well, it's your hair.
d.  People are going to treat you differently.  You'll regret it.
e.  I can't imagine such a thing.  Let's don't talk about it anymore.
f.  There, there now.  You're clearly out of you mind.  Here, have some chocolate.
g.  Good for you!

Hmmm.

To me, my reasons for giving up this ritual seem reasonable.

1.  I'm tired of it.  I've been doing it for 12 years.
2.  I'd like to put the money to other things.
3.  What's wrong with looking my age?  I don't even know what I've really looked like the past 12 years.
4.  I'd like to be free of presenting a colored version of myself.
5.  I think I've reconciled that I'll look older.  Older than what?  My fake hair color?
6.  I'd like to encourage other women to think about ditching the dye job too.  When did we come to believe we had to look younger?  Men don't do this (some do, but not most.)
7.  My hair dresser told me we still don't know the long-term effects of repeatedly painting chemicals onto our scalps.  What if, someday, we learn that fat cells, or wrinkles come from hair dye?  The ultimate irony.

Anyhoo...this is what I'm thinking about.  I want to try letting my natural hair color - whatever it is (it might be purple for all I know) - grow in unpainted. And because I want input about this sensitive issue, I'm going to write about it here.  Even if, six months from now, I run, screaming, into CVS for a box of L'Oreal #5AR.  It might be just be too horrific.

But, I want to see.  I think.  I want to be able to look into the mirror and just say, hello, you.  This is what 57 looks like. 


 Will you join me on this journey of self-discovery?   I might need your help.

PART 2
PART 3
PART 4
PART 5
PART 6
PART 7

26 comments:

Mari said...

I'm 53 and I've been debating how long I'm going to do this coloring thing. Right now, it's pretty easy as my gray is more at the temples, but when it's over my whole head it's going to require more upkeep. But am I ready for gray? I'll be interested in how it goes for you!

Retired Knitter said...

Well I have never been so close to first in commenting on a blog. I guess this is a topic that may be too hard for us baby boomers to comment on. :-)

My own story is that I inherited late-in-life gray from my grandmother (thank you grammy). So at 67 my sandy brown hairs still greatly out number the gray ones - so much so that the gray is hardly seen. But my sister whose hair color is the same as yours started going gray in her late 20s. She has colored her hair a long time.

You are right. At some point you need to know what you really look like. Maybe it will be a lovely salt and pepper like my mother-in-law had. Her hair was gorgeous. People used to ask where she got her hair done because they wanted what she had exactly. :-) Or maybe if not naturally gorgeous, your hair dresser can help thing along by making your silver strands more silvery and attractive.

My sister is your age and is facing the same choices. She made a wise decision. Her hair dresser is lightening her brown slowly, adding in lighter highlights to eventually graduate into a more nature graying highlight that will in the end become her own color. My sister still works (sales) so how she looks is important, but she knows at some point .... artificially colored hair in the solid color of youth will look terrible on an older mature woman. Just like the person who is 75 but dresses like they are 20 looks ridiculous, ladies crowning glory, their hair , should reflect and complement their age.

And after all, you earned those gray hairs just as you earned those wrinkles. You aren't going for botox right?

I say, go gray and rejoice in the fact you have lived long enough to turn gray. And with a little help from a true hair professional ... you can make that gray look stunning!!

Do it girl!! I look forward to future parts of this story.

KaseyQ said...

I am 32...wait, 33? Sheesh, I can’t even remember. Anyway, my mom was totally gray by the time she was my age and she has been coloring her hair ever since. I have been coloring my hair for the past couple years (though I’m not as diligent about it as I probably should be, but I’m young enough that the grays coming in *might* just be highlights, yaknowwhatImean? Anyway, I think you should do it. It’s always been my plan that once I’m old enough to have gray be *normal*, I will give in and go gray. I don’t believe there’s any sense in me trying to pretend I’m younger than I really am...if I can actually remember how old I am...

Since you’re considering it now, I would recommend going to your hairstylist to get some advice on how to make the transition smoothly- maybe get an all-over color. I think it will be great for you!

Kenya G. Johnson @ KenyaGJohnson.com said...

My answer was "g". Of course I can't say how I would be. Don't kick me to the curb of the blogaverse, but I just found one this weekend. At 43, I can count mine. I pulled it out immediately, I have one or two remaining in the back. I realize I am very lucky ;-) My dad can count his too. But my mom, she stopped coloring when she was about my age. She has a beautiful head full of silver-ish hair.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I stopped coloring mine when I turned 50. It took awhile for it all to grow out but when it finally did, I never regretted it. Still I do see those older than me still coloring their hair and yes, it does make them look younger, but I'm at the point in my life where it doesn't matter. It's not an easy decision. But it sure make life simpler.

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

G. Definitely. I'm 58, and my gray hairs are starting to be readily apparent. I'm darned if I'm going to get rid of them. If people want to judge me based on my hair, let them. It's my hair, God gave it to me, and I like it. So there.

You, of course, may feel free to do what you want!

Cathy said...

I say go for it, if that's what you want! My sister started going gray when she was about 18 and for years she colored her hair. She's now 61 and stopped coloring her hair about 10-15 years ago and she is completely white. And let me tell you, her hair is beautiful!! I heard someone talking to her about it the other day and telling her how beautiful it is.

Now since I'm a dark blond, you really can't see my gray hair too much. I really just have one big patch right in the front in my bangs. However, if it starts bothering me too much, I just spray some Sun-In and lighten my hair and seems to go invisible again. I've never colored my hair, just lightened it, mostly in the summer.

So, I don't know if that encourages you or not, but I hope it does. Give it a try and as you said, if you hate it six months down the road, you can always color it again. haha

Marianne said...

When I was a teenager, my mom stopped coloring her hair and went completely white. I was horrified (mostly because I was a rotten teenager). Now that I am also prematurely white and having to dye my hair constantly, I am counting down until I get to the point where I can embrace my inner Q-tip. You go, girl!

Andrea said...

G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I admit that I do the washes out in 28 washes color when the moons align and I feel like it. Here is what a friend said about my semi-recent haircut..."The gray is less offensive with the haircut"...LOL

Btw, I thought you were trying to decide if you should read 50 shades of gray!!! (I haven't)

Juli said...

G.

Worse case scenario? You can color it.

And I'll join you on your journey... I am on my own... with no refined sugar. YIKES!!

Marianne (Mare) Baker Ball said...

I'm so heartened to read these comments! such wisdom from my sister-friends! Thank you for your thoughts. Melissa, I love your spirit. "If people are going to judge me by my hair..." So true! I'm wondering if it's younger women that intimidate us. Sadly, there is a competition amongst women. What a journey this will be! Thank you all for taking the time so share. I love it!

Ann Hinds said...

I stopped coloring my hair years ago. I will be 65 and it's still sort of blonde with grey mixed in. I can't be bothered worrying about what people think. It's the inside me I take care of. The outside is simply what is. Take a chance, you're old enough to do what you want. Like others have said, it you absolutely hate it, color it again. You may find it to be liberating.

C Feild said...

I say go for it, but it generally does make people look older. I first stopped coloring my hair in my 40s. I liked the natural color that emerged, but I did think it made me look like I was in my 50s and I was not ready for that, so after a while, I started dying it again. Now I actually am in my 50s. I let it go natural a couple of years ago. People tell me it's a pretty shade of gray--actually many shades of gray; lighter in the front and darker in the back. I wonder if people think I look older than I am, but I don't know. Most people don't say this to your face! Whatever, I know how old I really am, even if some think I am 60! Occasionally, I think of dying it brown again, but then I remember what a long process it is to grow it out and I don't want to go through those awkward stages again. As others have suggested, getting some highlights now and then while you're growing it out can help camoflage the transition. Good luck!!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

My daughter often suggests that I stop dying my hair and go grey naturally but I am not ready to do so when I am grey I feel older than I like to

Michelle said...

G all the way! Not sure what the growing out process will be like, but it will be an adventure!

Rita said...

I colored my hair when I was young because my sister and brother kept their blonde hair and mine turned dishwater blonde. But it was so hard on my hair! Awk!! I quit--long, long ago. I am 63 and I don't have gray hair yet, so I can't say I know absolutely that I wouldn't change my mind--but I have no intentions of dying my hair to cover the gray. I even quit getting permanents or curling it. Went natural-natural about 8-9 years ago. Scary to me. But now I am so glad I did and can't imagine going through all that fussing again. So--I guess I am saying--go for it! Be who you are! :)

Cranberry Morning said...

Well, isn't this an interesting conversation! I'm 65 and started graying at 35. For years I colored my hair on and off. I'm not one of those who believe that whatever you decide is a commitment. If I feel like coloring my hair, I do it. If I don't feel like it, I don't do it. For the past 10 years I've done periodic low-lighting, which I really love. But it was December when it was last done, so I'm pretty gray these days!

I'll have to say that I do think gray hair often makes one invisible to many. Younger people often dismiss people with gray hair as irrelevant to the conversation. So be prepared.

Creations By Cindy said...

Such a real and honest post! Love it! Well my take on this is that it's hair and your money girly so do what ya want too! I personally like the color I have and until I get to where I can't pay for it anymore (LOL) I will probably continue to color it. I like it, my husband likes it and my daughter's like it. So bottom line is....what do you like and want? One thing is for sure...if you don't like the gray you can always color again! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

Becca said...

I'd say good for you! And you made some interesting points. Why do we want to try to look anything but our real age? My aunt used to dye her hair and it took some getting used to when she stopped and was all gray. It's the healthier route to go though. :)

Bethe77 said...

First thank you for dropping by my blog and leavng a comment. Love your post on 50 shades of grey and asking what we think. As a hairdresser and doing elder I do still have ladies that say they will never stop coloring their hair. And these are no spring chickens of their fifties either I might add. Then I have some tht said it was time to stop. Then I have those who went completely grey for a while then started coloring againg. I think its all a personal choice and look. I personal dont want to see my wisdom peeking out at me. The on the other hand I have girlfriends who have chosen to stop colors for some of th reasons you mentioned. I think if your comfortable with the wisdom look go for it. You may find you love it and the best part if you dont guess what your hairdresser will love to help you find a suitable color for your new look. Blessing on this adventure Beth

Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom said...

I'm 39 and I seriously couldn't do this... not now, not yet. I have been greying since I was 17 - I'm certain without colour I would be completely grey/white within a year.

Good for you. One day I'll join your journey but right now I'll just follow it!

Blessings.
xoxo

Tiffany {A Touch of Grace} said...

I'm only 31, but I've never dyed my hair. Ever. I say go for it. If you want to let it go a-natural then do it!

Chatty Crone said...

I already joined the ranks a long time ago - no more chemicals for me - but I know others who wouldn't consider it no matter what.

Pam Williams said...

I say, "Good for you, Marianne!" I "gave up the bottle" when I turned 50. My Granny had beautiful white hair and I hope to someday have the same. Right now it is mostly all white in the front but the back is more like an auburn tie-died job. But since I can't see the back, I am okay with it! :D

Jerralea said...

I was meaning to join in this conversation and I'm just now getting to it...

For a long long time, I highlighted my hair with blonde highlights. Eventually, it began to look as if my hair was all white. So there would be a lot of times I didn't go get my roots done because they blended in pretty well.

Three years ago - actually almost four - my daughter got married and I saw in the wedding pictures my future. My future as a white-headed woman, that is.

It didn't look bad but I thought, "I'm not ready for this." So, I went to my stylist and said I was ready for a change. I chose a medium brown with burgundy red highlights. I love it!

BUT I have to have it done every 4 weeks or it is really noticeable.

I do it for me. One day, though, I will be tired of doing it, tired of spending the dollars. Probably about the time I retire, I will go in and have her start putting white blonde highlights in and I will do that until I can let the grey roots blend in and I will be done.

I have to admit I have a fear of going cold turkey. I don't think I could stand myself to grow it out. Because the roots? They are definitely all white!

By the way, I am one year older than you.

Kendra Tierney said...

Well, you know what I think Mare! I've been going gray since my late teens. It bothered me at first, but now, at 38, I think it's cool. I really do. Now, if anything, I wish it would just all go gray. But I really do feel like the upsides of having my natural hair color outweigh the downsides. It saves time and money and exposure to chemicals, and it is unique.