Gray ain’t that bad, to be brutally honest

Published 12:37 pm Saturday, May 20, 2006

By Staff
I'm going to try to stop coloring my gray hair.
Too much information? Please indulge me this one time.
I shudder to think how many thousands of dollars and hours and hours in a salon chair I've spent over the last 10 years having my hair colored in an attempt to hide the gray. Lately, I've been wondering, why continue to fight it? Who am I trying to fool?
I'm 44 years old. I found my first gray hair at age 19. At about 35, I had enough gray to begin the awful, every-six-week regimen of having it colored. Or colored and highlighted - anything to mask the natural process of aging that was taking place.
A couple of months ago, I was in our pressroom attempting to discuss a work issue with our production manager, Bob Bell. The entire time I was talking, Bob - who is much taller than I am, as most people are - was staring at the top of my head. Finally, I'd had enough and asked him at what was he staring.
"Don't you think it's time to tighten that up," he asked, in only the way Bob can. He was referring to the gray roots showing in my hair.
You've got to know Bob to know that he wasn't completely being an ass, but in his mind was informing me of something important he obviously thought I couldn't see for myself. That's our Bob.
I cursed him and walked away, thinking how fortunate it is for him that he is so good at running our production department and that good pressmen are few and far between! I marched back to my office, picked up the phone and called to move up my next hair appointment.
Bob for many years now has been my bellwether of sorts. He can be a thorn in my side because he's the most brutally honest person I know. He's simply incapable of holding in what he's thinking - and he really does mean well. Sometimes you need someone like that.
When I was working hard to lose weight several years ago, I arrived early for work one morning with a Hardee's sausage biscuit and was eating it at my desk when Bob walked up. He stopped for a moment, looked at me and asked, "Is that on your diet?" I cursed him then, too, but it was a very long time before I had another sausage biscuit.
What you also need to know about Bob is that he was my biggest cheerleader. With every success, he was the first to notice and the first to give me much appreciated praise.
My hair grows quickly, so quickly that in order to keep up with the gray, I need to color it every two or three weeks, which is very expensive and very damaging to hair.
So, why do I do it? Who am I kidding? Yet, I have continued the process faithfully.
Last weekend, I ventured over to Sally's Beauty Supply because someone told me they make this stuff that works like mascara and you use it to color your roots between colorings. I plopped down $20 and bought a tube of the stuff and rushed home to try it.
It colors the roots all right, but it isn't exactly the right color and dries stiff. Worst of all, work up a sweat and it comes dripping down your forehead, also like mascara. I found this out the hard way.
So, again, why do I bother? What am I trying to hang onto?
Then, my copy of the June "More" magazine arrived this week. More is a magazine devoted to women 40 and older and I've been delighted with each issue since I discovered it a couple of years ago. It's like monthly validation for all of the changes aging brings about in women - no, not just menopause, but all of the other things that happen in your life as you get older, emotional and physical.
This month's copy includes an excerpt with photos from a book written about the 18-month process one 49-year-old woman, freelance writer Anne Kreamer, went through when she made the decision to stop fighting her gray hair. She chronicled her experience, which she describes as a "five-days-a-week-on-the-couch crash course in authenticity. Without a shrink to guide her."
That article was like a wake-up call for me. Enough!
I'm going to give it a go. Other than myself, the person who this decision is going to effect most is Abbi at Emerald Cuts, but she need not worry too soon. I'm sure I'll keep her busy as we try to find ways to artfully blend in the growing gray ribbon around my face during the going-natural process.
I know it's going to be painful and awkward. I'm very apprehensive, but I hope it's also going to be freeing and healthy and lead to some acceptance of the part of my life I'm now entering.
If you see me and think to yourself, 'My, how she's let herself go,' please remember, I see Bob Bell at work weekdays. That's about all the brutal honesty I can handle.