I’ve been telling this lie for some 20+ years and now I’m tired of it…the cover-up. I’ve decided to go for the silver – to let my white roots grow out. I am not as beautiful as José Mateo (of José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge) or as striking as Frieda Garcia, or as stunning as legendary model Carmen Dell’Orifice (check out the video about her on You Tube). I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s high cheeks that were strong/beautiful/alluring for her entire life. (I always think women with high cheekbones have faces that look and photograph beautifully for their lives.)
Be all that as it may, I cannot manage to keep up with coloring my roots. The time and money it takes to color are considerable. I’ve also had adverse scalp reactions to various semi-permanent dyes so, I’ve decided to cease and desist coloring my hair.
I’ve given myself until December of this year to see if I can stand it. I asked my husband his opinion. He says he has no opinion. (Note to feminists and womanists: I didn’t say that I asked his permission, I said I asked his opinion.) He has an opinion – he’s just not saying. I told him that if he just didn’t want to look at me with white hair…if somehow it would make him thrill to me less, I’d understand and he could kick-in for the upkeep of the illusion. (It should also be noted that he has very few gray or white hairs on his crown, although if he let his beard grow there’d be a lot of snow there.)
I’ve been collecting photos of women who look strikingly beautiful with their silver and white manes. Essence magazine does an annual issue on ageless beauty and there are always silver foxes in it. I also carry images of a number of women in Boston who sport/sported their white/silver hair beautifully (among them Patricia and Peggy). These visual images are giving me the fortitude to go down this road.
I may chicken out and buy a wig, something I’ve only done once for a costume party (because I was going as Cruella De Vil from the 101 Dalmatians Disney movie). I may also buy a wig because I’ve always wanted to see what it would feel like to walk around as a red head as well as to get through the ugliness of the growing-out phase. (Can you say skunk hair anyone? Especially on those days when I wear my hair parted and braided in two braids like Frida Kahlo.)
Why might I chicken out you ask? Because neither my late grandmother of the high cheekbones nor my lovely mother nor my vivacious aunts show their gray. (Not that they have any – ahem.) Nor does my sister. I don’t know the folks on my bio-father’s side of the family tree and so I cannot speak as to whether they have or show the silver.
In fact, now that I think of it, perhaps I’m the only one to go silver so early. Yeah – that’s it, it’s me. Other family members do not yet need “Dark & Lovely” or “Miss Clairol.”
You have to have a thick skin in my family because folks will talk about you – to your face and behind your back. I’m armoring up!
In this time of transitions, making this choice does mean that I have to be prepared to be instantly dissed and dismissed because I am embracing becoming older rather than continuing to try to front. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it to face the St. Louis crew come the holidays.