Growing

Go gracefully – or kicking and screaming

“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not being true to yourself.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Courtesy of NASA

Do we age gracefully, or do we fight it kicking and screaming? This is my current dilemma. I’m at that time in my life where I’ve noticed a few gray hairs. Now, I’m not young by any means, and I’m probably lucky that I’m over 50 and I’m just now seeing some gray. Many women just dye their hair without giving it another thought. So am I over-thinking this?

I met a woman recently who complained that in her favorite sport, she didn’t get the deference she thought that she deserved as an older competitor. She felt punished for looking so young. As I noticed her gray roots and dark hair, an obvious dye job, I wondered what was going on. She was trying to look young and then complaining that her age wasn’t considered. This just didn’t make sense to me, but it started me thinking.

If I present myself as one thing, rather than whom I know myself to be, am I failing to be authentic? Some people may think nothing of misrepresenting themselves in hopes of impressing others, but is that the way I want to live? I’m finally beginning to integrate all the different parts of my life into a complete, unified and authentic person, would dying my hair be a step away from authenticity and a move toward misrepresentation of myself?

When quartz crystals are flawed, they sometimes develop a rainbow of color, visible in the right light. They’re prized for that quality. Could my new gray hair be my own “rainbow?” Could it be my own way of incorporating my experience? Should I consider growing old gracefully? Letting the gray show is a little scary. On the other hand, I won’t waste money on root touch-ups or have to worry about two-tone hair if I ever stop coloring it. Acknowledging my age and experience in a culture that honors and worships youth is a bit of a rebel move. Am I up to it?

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
May Sarton

19 replies »

  1. I admire women who let their hair go gray. Unfortunately, due to heredity, I started going gray in my early 30s, and my husband “suggested” I color my hair – I went along with it. On the one hand, I regret it. It’s time consuming and I hate all those chemicals on me. On the other hand, I’m very fair-skinned and gray hair (I’ve tried on gray wigs to see how I’d look) makes me look so washed out and almost sickly. It’s a tough choice, but I’m at the point where if we move to a new area, I may just strip all the color out and introduce myself to my new community with gray hair. That way it’ll look normal to them and no one will be shocked at my washed-out look….until my old friends come to visit! LOL I like the whole theme of your blog; I agree so much with living authentically.

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    • I was lucky to get good genes. My grandmother died around 60 without any gray. I’m less than that and just have a few strands. Enough to be noticeable. My husband is almost all gray, and I guess it would look pretty odd if I didn’t age too. Good luck with the transitions.

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  2. I worried about getting grey hair – then I did. So I plucked – but they kept coming. Bald, grey or dyed – those were my choices. I went with dyed – for awhile. But I thought that was phoney – so I stopped. Now I’m enjoying my grey hair, have avoided those smelly and not so good for you chemicals and have saved enough money by not dying my hair to buy a passle of fashionable hats!

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  3. Whether to color our hair or not is a personal choice made by hundreds of thousands of women. I used to highlight and lowlight my hair. I loved the way it looked but the day came when I realized I was doing something in my life based on what society thought. In our culture we are made to think something is wrong with aging for women. I refuse to buy that belief or to contribute to it in any way.
    I love my silver hair, I’m okay with looking like an older woman, I do not have to be skinny, unwrinkled or worst of all, sexy. I’m me and what really matters is I love who I am and the way I look. It’s nice to be free from the dictates of society, other women, and men.
    Be true to yourself and have the courage to make your choices based on who you really are and not what you think you need to look like. Good post on a tough subject.

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  4. Well, women are getting gray hair earlier now, than in the past. To color your hair, is simply averting the effects of the atmosphere on your body, which is aging you faster than it is supposed to.

    Therefore, I say: Some women dye their hair. The rest of them – should.

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      • Color your hair, girlfriend. 🙂

        Maybe use the “rinse out” kind at first. It will rinse out over time, if you don’t like it.

        But, coloring your hair is a commitment (permanently). It’s a good commitment, in my opinion.

        I started going gray in my early thirties.

        No way, I said.

        Never regretted coloring my hair. Because, afterall, it’s not my fault.

        It’s the planet’s fault.

        So there 😉

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        • If I’d started going gray in my thirties, I never would have asked this question. It would have been a no-brainer and I’d become good friends with Ms. Clairol!

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  5. Good thoughts. It’s hard on women when we age, so much of our perceived worth as determined by our culture, is based upon the appearance of youth. I started going grey young, but I didn’t mind it at first. It was only when it started looking messy that I decided to cover it up. Now I just leave it alone, seeing my sister’s long term battle with cancer and how she faced the whole hair issue, changed the way I perceive myself. I earned those grey hairs, and I’d like to think beauty comes from within anyhow.

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    • Thank you. I used to have a long sexy hair when I was younger and attractive. Now, I see my hair as just another part of my body, with which I need to be in harmony. It’s part of the whole package, and is really just a minor part of the wrapping. I can’t imagine all the ways that cancer can make someone gain a new perspective, and I can understand at least a little, the battle with losing hair with chemotherapy.Thanks for sharing.

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