Friday, January 9, 2009

About Hair, the Gray Kind

The eight sisters. Isn't that like a constellation or something? Mine doesn't look as gray as it really is in this photo. Both sides in the front are almost pure gray.

While with my seven sisters last month, I realized that several of us are thinking about our hair in a different way. Why? Probably because we're all over 40 (and over 50) now. We're not man-hunting, we don't have anyone to impress, and we are looking for simple, cost-effective, real hair.

Hair changes. It gets gray. It gets dry. It's not the hair we had when we were 20 years younger.

Some people dye their hair. I can understand that. We are used to our hair being one color all our life, and suddenly it's different. Gray instead of brown, or white instead of blonde. It happens without a lot of notice. Then one day someone, probably a child or grandchild, will describe us as "She has gray hair and..." Surprise! We might not have noticed it ourselves, but others sure did!

Some people cut their hair. I understand that too. It's easier to manage, I've heard. It looks more professional. It's cooler, and after age 50 cooler becomes an attractive option.

But my sisters and I seem to be bucking a trend. Most of us do not dye our hair. We feel we've earned every gray and white strand on our heads. And several of us no longer cut our hair either.

My hair has been long for years. Since age 14, in fact. When I was a little girl I had long hair until my brother cut off one braid with the grass shears (a long story that I often tell for storytelling audiences--my mother about had a heart attack but I thought I was stylin'! Did Joe get in trouble? Oh yeah!). I got my first beauty shop haircut after that and my hair stayed short for years afterward.

When I was a dewy-eyed bride of 17, my hair was long, shiny and dark auburn. I bet like most of you, I didn't realize how pretty it was, I just worried that it wasn't perfect. Sheesh.

Then the 60's hit and I let it grow. And grow. Until it reached somewhere near my waist, where it stopped growing.

My seven sisters followed a variety of paths. Most cut their hair, and some tried coloring. I experimented with perms in the 90's, but left them behind because to tell the truth, I hated what to me was a ridiculous cost, and did not want to spend so much time in beauty shops.

I tried short hair once again around 1997. I could not wait for my hair to grow again. When you're used to long hair, you don't expect to have to spend time on things like hot rollers, blow dryers, and "scrunching." You just wash and go.

And that's where I am now. I wash and go, no worry with styling, crimping or curling. It is so easy. My hair is turning gray and that's fine by me. It is how it is supposed to be. Natural.

I was surprised last weekend to find that several of my sisters have the same idea. Judy is letting her white-blonde hair grow long again and she looks like I remember her when we were young. Maggie's hair is long and lustrous and only beginning to have a little gray. Theresa proudly wears her gray mingled with her natural blonde, and Mary's once jet-black hair is a shining silver now.

The younger sisters are still cutting and may be using color, but give them time. They'll learn the same thing we did: let nature take its course. It's easier, cheaper, and in the end our hair is healthier for the lack of attention.

Is this a trend, I wonder, with other women? Are others rebelling after years of messing with their hair and letting it go natural? Or are we the odd women out? (Okay, I know we're odd, but you know what I mean!)


Carol said...

I have been here in the "outback" of OK for about 11 years and one of the first things I noticed upon arriving was all the undyed heads of hair on mature women. Since, I'm one of them, I was gratified by the all the company. At 62, I've decided to grow and glow for the rest of my life and am looking forward to my long, pure white hair, again.

Granny Sue said...

Ah, pure white! How beautiful that must be, Carol.

Vera said...

I am 70 and I have colored my hair about all my life (off and on)now I am gray and will stay that way. Too much trouble to color.

earth heart said...

When I was younger I colored my hair frequently. Did the perm thing several times as well. After I went gray I eventually stopped despite comments from others suggesting I would look younger if I colored it. My feeling; I earned every one of these gray hairs and wear them proudly. :) Plus, I figure all those chemicals weren't doing me any good either. I gave up make-up later on as well.

I agree with you, long hair is easy. Virtually no maintenance, no expense. Just wash and wear! I've worn mine long more often than not.

Mary said...

Odd? no, I think you all look beautiful and, as you say, natural. My hair objects to almost all treatments these days, first perms were out, then hot rollers, then blow drying -- even the chlorine in the pool is a bit much, but if I condition before and after swimming, it will recover. It would seem that we have better ways to use our time and money than putting unneeded chemicals on ourselves. I do keep it shorter, though, too thin to look good long (the hair, not me -- that's a whole other story).
I just got a really good cut for free, a coupon in a "Welcome Wagon" mailing. I told them that if they help me sell the condo, I'll be back for more haircuts from them, even though they are a bit more pricey than my usual place.

Tipper said...

You make it sound very tempting! My hair has been turning Grey for so long-and I hate dying it.

Matthew Burns said...

My Grandmaw Mary always said that gray hair was a sign of wisdom, and that if anyone tried covering it up, they were hiding their wisdom.

She also said to honor your gray hair and it would honor you. I think that is true, folks seem to respect those with gray hair more often than not.


bayouwoman said...

Hair. That is one thing I am very attached to. You and your sisters are all beautiful. I admire that you are staying natural.

Like you, I've had long hair most of my life. You know how some cultures cut their hair or shave their heads as a sign of mourning or distress? Well, when I look back, the two very short cuts I had were both due to mourning. And like you, hair styles and perms are just too much trouble to keep up, so I keep my hair long. I am just getting gray hair and they seem to be just on top, like I have these silver roots. What's up with that? Pretty soon, I'll look like a skunk!!!

Janet, said...

I love the group picture of you and your sisters. Your hair in your wedding picture looks just like my hair when I was a teenager. I've often thought of growing my hair back, but for me short is easier to take care of than long.

Granny Sue said...

BW, everyone's hair changes so differently there can't be a one-thing-fits-all. My mother's lovely auburn hair turned so patchily (is that a word?) that she kept it colored until her death--and it suited her. she also kept her hair short after she turned 45, I think. I like my gray, but had it turned like Mom's did, I'm not sure I'd be so happy with it!

Maggie and Roger said...

Man I just want some gray! All I have is two. My hair wants to fall out and leave me bald.
Sigh...I expect I better get used to that...
Dang! I wish it would just go gray instead!

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