Embracing My Grays

I've had gray hair since I was 16 years old. I noticed one long, solitary gray hair in the top of my head, ever so slightly hidden underneath fluffy dark brown curls and I was oddly amazed. Every month or so after the first pluck, two or three others mysteriously appeared to replace the first. My plucking strategy worked rather well for several decades. However, upon approaching 60, instead of a few errant hairs scattered throughout my curls, I was confronted with much more than a few strands. No longer content with making an appearance in the middle of my head, the gray demons gathered along the edges of my hair, prominent, as though they not only belonged in the same territory as their dark brown sisters, but were the new rulers. I decided I would not go quietly into that good night and welcomed dye like a drowning man welcomes a life-preserver, determined to fight and wage war against the unwelcome intruders until I could fight no more.

Every eight weeks or so, my stylist transformed my hair back to a lustrous mass of deepest, darkest brown curls, shiny and vibrant and youthful. But increasingly, no product kept them in tow. I reached a point where an eight week dye job had to be trimmed to six weeks and six weeks trimmed to four weeks. I was astounded at the new growth's acceleration: coarse, rebellious gray hairs arriving a week and a half after a dye job.

My once soft, obedient brown hair was being overtaken by coarse, tough and rebellious grays. The gray hair was winning big time! My son, whom I love dearly, began calling me "the Silver Surfer."

Unfortunately, we live in a media driven society where standards of beauty are selectively chosen by the Beauty Gods on Madison Avenue. Women are objectified and encouraged to stay in the pack. You have to make yourself over: use whatever products are available to enhance your natural look, because if you don't, no guy will find you attractive. And isn't that what it's all about, being found attractive on someone else's terms?

In 2013, I finally grew tired of cursing and coloring my hair. Plucking out grays had long ceased to be an option; they predominated over 60 percent of my hair. After one hard look in the mirror, I sighed and gave up the fight. I decided to embrace the pesky little interlopers, welcoming them home like long-lost cousins. In 2015, I rebelled again and dyed my hair brown... myself... instead of allowing a stylist to do it. My home-grown dye job yielded ghastly olive green curls, which I promptly dyed again. My grays gave up the ghost and died. Over 60 percent of my hair fell out. Since December 2015, I've begged, coaxed and cajoled my grays back. And I must say they're coming back with a vengeance. Every beautiful one of them.

Life lesson? I'd rather have a head of thick, bountiful gray hair, than no hair. Second life lesson? It's not what you wear, but how you wear it and I'm wearing my gray like a crown of glory.