This post was originally published on Huffington Post.
That’s what a guy in his late 30s said to me at a gas station the other day. I’m 55, and my mostly brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail, exhibiting the very white streak that lives around the crown of my head, and which I stopped dyeing three years ago.
“Thank you!” I said.
It was a weird compliment but it cracked me up. No doubt about it, gray hair makes you look older, but so what? I am older. However, I admit to recently heeding my own advice, offered up to a woman who, upon seeing my boldly displayed gray, said she was having “a life-changing moment” in regard to growing hers out.
What I told her was this: Do yourself a favor as you go through the process. Don’t be a militant; give yourself a break. That may mean going for highlights to soften the harsh reality of gray roots pushing through a forest of uniform dark hair; or adopting one hairstyle for several months if it helps you remember that the evil queen in Snow White did not keep asking the mirror, “Who’s the ugliest of them all?”
So, you’re probably wondering what I did to my hair.
Well, even though I long ago made peace with my gray, I still hated how (warning: cliché alert) “dull and mousy” the rest of my hair looked with that 20 percent sprinkling of gray throughout. So, after trying a rinse made of turmeric, lemon and water with no luck, and two weeks of debating with myself and friends and husband about it, I decided to try this all-natural, spray-on, permanent coloring system called Gray Riddance (cute name, no?), which promised to subtly transform ONLY the gray and leave the rest of my hair alone.
I dutifully parted and pinned the gray at the crown of my head away from the rest of my hair (because I like my white streak), and sprayed away. It worked! The gray turned into a soft golden color, which looks a lot better than that just-dusted-with-cocaine effect.
Except for one thing: while I thought I had protected the hair around my crown, some of the product managed to make its way over to the forbidden territory. So, my once striking, super white streak is now a weird yellow. Nice! People tell me it’s all in my head, (exactly!), and that I’m the only one who sees it. Exactly! Which brings me to the point I wanted to make.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else sees when they look at you, it’s what you see and how you feel about it that counts. A woman I know once said she didn’t give a shit about how big her ass was because she didn’t have to look at it. I love her.
The thing is, whether you’re cutting a green grape in half and rubbing it on your face to tighten your skin and pores (which works, by the way) or mashing up half a banana and a slice of papaya to make a skin-firming mask (which also works beautifully), or injecting yourself with Botox, it doesn’t matter if people think you’re delusional about looking younger or better. Who cares what they think? If you see a difference, and think you look younger, you probably feel younger, have a bounce in your step and have an urge to wear pigtails. Go for it.
If you read my last post on going all homemade and natural in the beauty department, you won’t be surprised if my next blog is on how you can naturally bleach yellow hair away forever. In the meantime, I’m going to forget that when the guy at the gas station approached me, the hair around my face was bright white; I’m concentrating instead on the part where he said, “You look YOUNG!”
As a matter of fact, I must be feeling young because I corralled a couple of people and headed down to the Occupy Los Angeles march a couple of weeks ago. It was great. There were thousands of people walking through the financial district, feeling purposeful (screw the bankers!) and carrying witty signs like: “Seriously, stop.” And, “Take the filthy out of rich.” And, “You know it’s serious when a realtor is marching.”
It felt so right, standing behind all those brave young people who saw runaway greed endangering their futures, and got off their butts to do something about it. Because in this scenario, no matter what color our hair is, we’re all young.