To dye or not to dye

My hair is going white. It is skipping grey and going straight to wise old grandmother, and part of me is quite OK with this.

Most of me however, is not.

I want to be a bastion of feminism. But as my friend Jules put it, at some point when a woman stops dying her hair, she just looks un-groomed. It is sad but it is true – in a job where meetings are required and first impressions are part of the deal, grey roots make you look unprofessional.

Will not dyeing my hair help to change this preconception? Can I make a difference?

I am thinking of Susan Sontagging my hair – getting some white foils to let the greying process happen a little more gracefully.

But that is just stupid. it is more work than dyeing it all black.

And there is this: I saw my hair yesterday in the bright, radiant light of a Sydney day – you know, the kind of day where even black objects seem to reflect and increase the sun. My mirror at home is lit tastefully and forgivingly. This was not.

I saw my hair – dry, straggly, and with white bits popping out in unbecoming wires. This on a day where I was off to a meeting and so had ‘done’ my hair. I saw my face too – something else I try to spend not much time reviewing – and saw the telltale lack of elasticity that signals ageing. For someone who has always been young by default of being short and the youngest in the family, I was not prepared for this. I knew I was older – I welcomed it and I feared it, not because being old is scary but being mortal is. But I had not really seen it.

Vanity of vanities: I care about looking better.

But there is the other thing – I want to know I am getting old. I want to see the hair go grey and the skin thin and see that yes, I am getting closer to my estimated time of departure. I don’t want it to be a shock. I don’t want death to be a shock.

I will get my hair cut this week, but as for dyeing – well, I think I will wait a bit longer. Maybe my hair will cooperate and grow its own white slices. If not, well, with the passage of time I may just not care so much anyway. My confidence in my abilities and my person may start to outweigh my fear of making people think of me as a greying relic of the hippy days, back when green was the new black.

I think I will give my head an olive branch: a conditioning treatment to soften the dryness. White hairs, you have won a temporary respite; but springing from my head like crackling pieces of albino hay? Those days are numbered.