2.06.2006

My First Grey Hair!

I just wanted to report that I have had my first confirmed* grey hair. I suppose it's white, really, only it was half-brown and only lost it's color towards the root. It seems that melanin production in that particular hair follicle petered out in the middle of producing that hair. I don't know quite what to think of this. It seems a bit strange to have a grey hair at the sprite young age of 26, and I don't think my parents started going grey until they were in their late thirties. But many of my friends sport a grey hair or two (or more), and Lord knows the men are certainly beginning to bald, so I guess there's nothing so unusual about this blatant sign of aging. I'm not 18 anymore!

Part of me wants to totally not care. I mean, I try, with greater or lesser success, not to be a superficial, externality-obsessed person. (This attempt to thwart the dominant external-beauty-obsessed culture began in 7th grade, when I categorically refused to put a mirror in my locker like all the other girls had. I didn't want to be the kind of girl who checked her face in the mirror in between classes. Who needs that kind of pressure at 12 years old?!) I have a deep sense that age is something to be honored and revered, and that with age, comes knowledge, wisdom, and self-confidence. I hate the dominant anti-age theme in America; I hate all of the stuff that our capitalist culture thrusts upon us in an effort to stop time, reverse aging, and look eighteen forever.

And yet.

When I see those fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes, or when I spied a grey hair sprouting out of my head last weekend, a part of me was sad. I don't think it's unusual to want to be young forever, and there will always be a part of me that will wax nostalgic for my lost youth, for days spent digging for worms in the backyard to create a terrarium; days spent eagerly writing essays and sending them off for publication, full of vim and vigor; days spent painting T-shirts; days spent curled up on the couch in my nightgown, with nary a care in the world. I do realize that childhood did not seem quite this idyllic at the time, and then I spent a great many hours of my childhood waiting to "grow up," not able to quite understand how "growing up" meant not just freedom from stricture (no more school! no more books! no more teachers' dirty looks!) but the awesome responsibility of feeding, clothing, and housing myself (among other unanticipated difficulties of being an adult).

What shall I do about it? Absolutely nothing. I take great pride in being one of only seven (estimated) women in America to never have dyed, colored, or otherwise messed with my hair.^ I don't even use a blow drier--that's how much I believe in letting my hair be, sub-freezing temperatures and morning showers be damned. Despite having had a secret desire to be blond or at least light-brown-haired as a pre-teen, I really do love the color of my hair, especially the way it has reddish highlights in the summer sun. I remain steadfast in my anti-hair-dye convictions and say, with great joy, "Bring on the grey, bring on the wisdom!"


* I say "confirmed" because MLG was sure she spotted a grey hair in my head a year or more ago, but I swore it was blond, being right at the hairline. I do have a few blondish/light brown hairs, and they look lighter in the sun or under the glare of the bathroom light fixture. I yanked the suspected grey hair out and confirmed that it was, indeed, blond. But when I yanked out a potentially grey hair last weekend, close analysis confirmed that it was, indeed, grey. So I will yank no more. Once there's one, I don't care as much that there are multiples.
Although I do wonder just how many years there are between the first grey hair and a salt-and-pepper colored mane.

^ I will admit that the summer that I turned 14, I rubbed a lemon over my hair and sat out in the sun. When my grandfather asked what had happened to my hair--it looked like straw, he said--I said, "Nothing, what are you talking about?" It did both lighten my hair and probably strip the outer layer from it or something. Not a recommended procedure, and I never did it again. While I'm confessing, I will also admit that Prell shampoo makes my hair look redder than it does after being washed with other kinds of shampoo. I have no idea why. There were times, in my adolescence and perhaps beyond, that I used Prell to boost that redness factor. No longer, though.

3 comments:

snsm said...

Hooray, gray hair! I myself found one about a year ago and was so excited (to my friends' amazement). I think gray hair is way sexy, personally, although people who go totally prematurely gray do end up looking much older.

I'm also one of the few people I know who absolutely love getting older. As I get older, I feel more confident, comfortable in myself, certainly more level-headed and balanced. I wouldn't want to go back to the angst of those pre-teen, high school, college years for ANYTHING.

I credit my mom with teaching me that every year can be better than the one that passed, and that every age is the best age. Of course, she's also been dying her hair since she was about thirty, but what you do?

Avi said...

I grew my first white beard hair a few months ago. I didn't look at it as positive or negative. I just thought, "Ok, this means I'm definitely a grownup now."

David said...

My hair is just starting to get the salt & pepa hint (not quite "push it" yet - more like "lean gently upon it"), but my beard has had a tremendous number of red highlights for years. I'm with you - I've never bleached or dyed: my experimentation was only about length...