Sometime in the past two years, some celebrity hairstylist decided “gray is in.”
Since then, I have seen hundreds of women, often in spite of their age, dying their hair some variation of white or gray. I loved the movement so much I found myself creating a Pinterest board with hairstyles inspired by gunmetal grays, smokey grays and grays so deep they tiptoed the line of a dusty blue.
I thought about dying my hair a silvery gray ombre for months but decided against it mostly for financial reasons. Maintaining hair color is expensive and I have other priorities.
Whether artificial or natural, I find there to be something stunning about these shades of color that are supposed to be associated with aging. Natural is always better though.
I have a strong dislike for discussing my age. I often talk around it, trying to avoid the all-too-often response of “OH, you’re just a BABY” as though I’m some kind of infant that still needs to be swaddled.
I have always had an old soul and presented as mature past my age. I don’t try to pretend to be wiser than I am. I embrace the philosophy of “the wisest people know they know nothing at all.” And I’m aware that there are a plethora of experiences I have yet to live through and learn from, but I hate being dismissed because of my age. So I avoid talking about it.
Regardless, the truth is I’m getting old. Excuse me. Let me rephrase that. I am getting older.
Do not try and convince me otherwise. I am not attempting to throw myself a pity party. These are the facts. People don’t age backward. I am definitely not getting any younger. My forehead wrinkles are starting to etch their record into my skin, as are the creases at the sides of my mouth. And I am one hundred percent, completely OK with that. In fact, I am celebrating it.
Don’t sell me your anti-aging tips and products. I’m not interested. I have heard women advise other women to smile or laugh less to avoid the wrinkles. I have heard women tell other women not to exhibit aggravation with their facial features, referencing research articles like “Angry People Age Faster.”
I am not making these up. If you are a woman, you’ve heard them too. All the ways you can preserve your physical youth. Tips and tricks and beauty hacks to hold on to your youthfulness for just a little bit longer.
And I cannot stand here all high and mighty and pretend that I have been impervious to this mindset. Who doesn’t want to look good? And when you’re told that looking good means fighting off all signs of aging, then yeah – you’ll go out and buy whatever they tell you to.
But I’ve arrived at a juncture in my life where I just don’t care anymore. I can’t waste the energy trying to hold on to something that I’m not meant to have forever.
Instead, I am choosing to prescribe to age being like wine, getting finer with time. Cliche and corny, I know – but real! I am going to live my best life and take whatever comes with that as an after effect.
2017 granted me my first gray hair. It is short in length and sticks out in a Little Rascals Alfalfa kind of way if I don’t gel it down. It came in to the left side of my middle part and likes to say hi when I wake up in the morning. I am in love with it. Seriously, my only qualm with this lovely silver hair follicle is that it’s shorter than the rest of my hair. I need it to hurry up and catch up in length so I don’t have to pat it down so frequently.
I reached out to my writing community and asked if they knew of any essays about women and gray hairs (still looking, DM me if you know of any.)
I ran some google searches but only came across two articles about women learning to embrace their grays much later in life.
I kept thinking of that one verse in Proverbs that I used to use to try to use to convince my mom to stop dying her natural grays. (A task at which I have still remained unsuccessful.)
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
I earned this single gray. In it’s shining glint, there is so much reflected back at me. I see my finding my voice and learning to say no. I see the reason for the battles I have faced. I see both the victories and the lessons learned from the losses. I see wisdom and wit and growth sprouting from my crown and stretching towards the sky.
The only response I want to hear when I tell someone about my first gray hair and all the ones that will follow is “Congratulations!” because I went to war for this gray and it is an intricate detail in my crown of splendor.
***This is essay 51 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.