Embracing the Gray

I found my first gray hair at age eighteen. I pulled it out each time it appeared on the top of my head, wiry and kinky curly.

“Maybe you’ll be like your grandma,” my mom teased me, “she was totally gray by the time she was thirty.” Oh, please no, I prayed. I remember my grandma having very unrealistically dark hair when I was a young child.

Gradually, by my mid-twenties gray hairs were becoming more and more noticeable and my boyfriend (now husband) would tease me about them. While I am not a particularly vain person, I was so self-conscious about them that I would spend time in front of the bathroom mirror, pulling out any I found with tweezers. Whereas before I had dyed my hair for fun, I began to dye it every month because I kept noticing more gray strands. Looking back now, I didn’t have that many, but for some reason it really bothered me. I felt young and didn’t want my hair to age me in appearance. There seems to be a double standard in our society: women aren’t supposed to age or show signs of aging like gray hair or wrinkles, but men who go gray are called a “silver fox” or are considered distinguished looking.

As I noticed more gray hairs I also noticed that my store bought dye wasn’t covering the stubborn hairs, so I turned to having my cosmetologist friend buy me salon-quality dye. I continued dyeing my hair until I became pregnant with my first child. After Abby was born I dyed my hair once. I somehow found time to dye it and take a shower one night before she could wake up to nurse. I loved the color and I received so many compliments. It made me feel good to think that others thought I looked good, at a time where I was super tired and rundown looking, my body had just made another human being and nothing was back in it’s original place yet (still waiting on that… pretty sure it will never happen), and I needed a lift. A month later I needed to retouch my roots, but being a mom took precedence, and I just didn’t have the time.

Fast forward three years and I still haven’t dyed it. And there is more gray than ever. They stick out, some are curly, some are straight, and there is a large shock of grays concentrated where I used to part my hair on the left side of my head. I wish I could say it is a really cool looking silver streak, but it’s not.

I stopped pulling out the grays a long time ago because if I kept doing that I might not have very much hair left. I have a large number of grays, but I have had a problem with hair loss after my second child was born. My hair seems to be thinner each day. I find hair everywhere. You can read more about that here.

I have given up on the idea of using hair dye. Why spend the time, energy, and money to cover up a part of myself that is not going to change except to become more prominent in the years ahead? At least they are pretty, shiny, and silver, not the yellowish grays that I see some people have. Hey, it’s a part of me just like my stretch marks, freckles, and scars. What is the point in worrying about it?

I was recently standing outside of IHOP talking to my parents after brunch and the wind blew my hair. My dad was shocked, “Oh my God, Sarah. You have so much gray hair!” Yep. Thanks, Dad. “It’s not gray hair,” I said. “It’s wisdom sparkles.” I’m supposed to be getting wiser as I age, right? Well anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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