Last weekend, I found myself sitting in a funky little hair salon in a funky neighborhood of Minneapolis, surrounded by a mass of middle-aged women. It was my hair, specifically my hair color, that had brought me to this place.
You see, earlier in the week, I had read an article in our local paper about a preacher, a priestess of gray hair, although she would much prefer we call it silver. The author of Silver Hair: Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine: A Handbook, Lorraine Massey, was coming to give us ladies permission to put down the dye and embrace the gray. Massey calls it silver, but, I don’t know, to me, gray hair is gray hair. Silver seems just a nice way of putting some shine on it.
The truth is, I color my hair. And the other surprising truth (at least to me) is that I am fooling no one. Because even with light brown hair with lovely blonde highlights, I am still called “ma’am” by the store clerks, and still occasionally asked if I want the senior discount at the movie theater. My face, with all its aging imperfections, must be giving me away.
Yes, underneath my colored “do” is a full head of gray, or white, or ahem, silver hair. And I am tired, so tired, of coloring it. From the looks of the masses of women crowded into the salon, waiting to hear Ms. Massey’s wisdom, I am not alone.
There were a lot of women crowded into that little space, surrounded by stylists’ chairs and shampoo basins. Standing room only. Some of the ladies had their silver totally covered up like I did, some were already embracing the silver (why were they even here, if only to show off?), and some were in painful transition. Painful because it does look downright awful to have a racing stripe going down the middle of your head whilst the true “silver” is growing out.
So, Lorraine, who sports a beautiful mane of very silver, very curly hair, worked the crowd. “Why are we covering up what is naturally ours? Silver is beautiful! Think of the money you’ll save! Embrace your real inner beauty as well as your outer beauty!” Thankfully, the salon served snacks and drinks for the audience, and after a few glasses of champagne and a cupcake or two, the idea really did start to sound appealing.
By the end of the talk Lorraine had us fairly whipped up into a “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore” frenzy. “Yah, who says I gotta color my hair? Society? Is it ageism? The beauty industry? Men? You don’t see them rushing to the salon to cover their gray roots!”, as Lorraine gushed, “It’s kind of like burning our bras, isn’t it?”
It was more like a religious revival, a roomful of women lined up to buy her book, vowing to “say good bye to the dye”.
But, as so often happens, the glow of “finding religion” tends to wear off after a week or two. I wish we had all shared our names and numbers so that we could reunite next year…just to see who has truly taken this notion of our natural hair color into our hearts.
In the meantime, I’ve got a wedding, my daughter’s wedding, to attend in May. And I am absolutely not walking down the aisle looking like an old lady. No, not me. I’d rather look like a 60-year-old woman with dyed hair.
Still, after the wedding, I think I’ll give it a try.
Compliments on my natural silver would be most welcome. And don’t you dare call it gray.