Tuesday, February 1, 2011

High Heels, Grey Hair

This is how I looked six months ago. Long (by my standards) hair. Dark brown.

I am over 50 in this photo and with my family inheritance, there is no way my hair can be this color naturally. Dad was completely white by the time he was 35; Mom was grey in her 40s.

Had I left it to nature, I think I would have followed Dad's path: my first grey hairs appeared in my late 20s; the sexiness of pure white on a youngish face would surely have followed.

But we all know that what is sexy on a man is dowdy and over-the-hill on a woman.

Or so I thought. So I started with henna when I was just over 30. My friend Deepa and I did it together and we made a pact: knowing how hideously the auburn sheen of henna veers into glaring orange without the host head seeming to realize, we promised we would tell each other when it was time to stop. She told me when I was 35. I told her a year later. I went on to chemical dyes. She just stopped altogether.

Well, we aren't all as beautiful as Deepa. Nor as confident. Nor as experienced. One of the reasons she didn't want to get into dyeing was that she had watched her own mother do it for years and years. She had seen first-hand the mess, the expense and - worst of all -  the dreadful and inevitable return of the "skunk-line." She wanted no part of it.

MY mother had never dyed (she barely wore lipstick) so I had no cautionary tale before me. What I had was these pesky white hairs which were always there to remind me of things I preferred not to think about.

So for 18 years (18 YEARS!) I spent $6 every 6 weeks  (nearly $1000!) to keep up the pretense that I was not, in fact, getting older.

Six months ago, I had suddenly had enough. And just as suddenly, I stopped. No more dyeing. I have surprisingly little to say about it. Just that it is a release and a delight to relax, to agree with what everyone already knew: I'm getting older. And once that is agreed upon, to use it. For India is the place to be when growing old.

There is deference to be had: a seat on the train, the first to be served, one's advice sought. And carte blanche when one wishes. Now that my hair is grey I feel reckless and uninhibited: who cares?


chicu said...

deference and seats in trains my foot! look at the chaps staring slack-jawed at you, Jo!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

HAHA, Chicu! That made me laugh out loud. Thanks!