True confession: I’m a woman of a certain age and I don’t color my hair. For a few years back in my 40s, I did highlights, mainly because I felt so pampered at the salon. But I don’t do the all-over douse-it-out bit that so many women do when they see those kinky, silver strands springing up, deciding to color the gray into submission.
But several years ago I decided no more highlights. No low lights. No tempering or toning the gray. I don’t want to be that seventy-year-old blond or redhead or brunette. Because dyed–or should I use the more correct ‘color treated’?– hair just doesn’t compliment the certain softness and fan of wrinkles that come with passing years.
So what you see is what I am. Gray, to be sure. Growing older, of course.
But I am also far more real than I was when I was twenty. (Or thirty or forty, for that matter.) Real as in the Velveteen Rabbit Real. Just like that fictional bunny who grew shabby from being loved, I’ve been worn a little around the edges, too. I’ve got patches from experiencing cancer and infertility and substance abuse and unemployment with my family. A few tatters from a divorce that sometimes turned nasty. I’m threadbare in spots from watching my children leave home and sometimes struggle. My tears have changed me, too, just like they did Velveteen Rabbit.
Those tatters also mean I’m resilient. No matter what, I’ll get back up after I’m knocked down. They mean I’m durable–throw a little life my way and I’ll still be there for you. Those worn edges mean I’m in it for the long haul. And while I might also have lost a bit of my shape, it doesn’t matter to the people who love me because “when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.” I’m comfortable in my own skin because it’s, well, comfy! Hug me and I’m Velveteen Rabbit soft.
Now that’s not to say that women who color their gray aren’t. I’m just baffled as to why anyone would want to cover up the traces that mark them as sharp and experienced, that highlight their quick-wit and insight.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t do au naturel, either. You’ll find no patchouli in my makeup drawer (it’s Dior, right now thank-you-very-much) and I love the close shave of a new razor. I’ve got a drawer full of jars and palettes, brushes and compacts, tonics and toners.
Embracing my gray doesn’t mean I don’t care, but rather that every day–week–year that’s passed has been precious. And I don’t want to lose sight of that.
So when I look in the mirror and see those silver streaks, I smile … because I have loved long and I becoming more Real every day.