What You See vs. What Lies Beneath

Yesterday I finally had a chance to get into the hair salon and update my color. Yes, I dye my hair. For fun, to cover gray, and just because it makes me feel prettier.

About four months ago, I went dark brown and loved it. But it wasn’t long before it faded into the reddish roots I had going strong and the gray hairs sprouting…everywhere. When I arrived to the hairdresser’s chair yesterday, my head featured a rainbow of hues.

So he and his lovely young assistant swiped on with the soft brushes the dark brown color again. They massaged it through the strands, circled it into the scalp, making sure every corner of my head was even and smooth.

It took a long time – nearly two hours! But at the end, I had a beautiful head of same-color hair, styled so pretty.

Except for two little obscure gray hairs that apparently have a will stronger than the dye.

There is a tiny curl by my right ear that insists on staying gray. And another at my scalp line. Only I can see them, and I find it hilarious.

Why?

Because no matter what we try to cover up, the truth lurks very close beneath.

It’s just the way of life. I’m 42 years old, so of course my hair color is fading into white. That’s what happens when you get older. And yet our society tells us to stop the aging process, halt it, pretend it doesn’t even happen, dammit!

If we were truly comfortable with ourselves, we’d see a whole lot more white-haired or salt-and-pepper women out there. And Spandex-less women. And women smiling from behind a makeup-free face because they know how beautiful they are without any accoutrements.

Yes, I’m one of the pack. I’m a sheep. I dye and tighten and line the pencil around my eyes and swipe on lipstick.

Truth be told, in my cocky 20s, I never thought I’d be one of the crowd. I thought I’d be the confident white-haired woman, standing strong in my natural essence.

I can’t even tell you how fast I ran to the hair salon when I started sprouting grays.

Still. We are who we are and we live where we live. We must feel comfortable in the skin we are given. And if that means we doll it up and prettify and try our hardest to keep our youth at a premium, even if it’s leaving fast, so be it. That’s just the way of the world.

But I wish – I wish! – we could live in the truth. The disconnect between what-is and what-should-be is too great to ignore.

The late great George Burns once said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

I guess that’s the best way to approach this aging gracefully process, right? Cover it up, hide the truth, but let’s not give up. We’ve got so much ahead.

(Point 1: George Burns was artfully gray and thinning and we loved him. A lesson in truth? Or double standard?)

(Point 2: I love that there are two gray hairs that defied the dye. Frankly, I relate more to them than to the whole cover-up. Now if I just had the courage to throw it all to the wind and be who I am … gray and all.)

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