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.