Friday, November 2, 2012

I wish I could cook like Paula Deen, but I don't want her hair.


Yep, this is me, ready to tackle my roots.

I’m old, but I’m not old enough to be contemplating what I’m contemplating.  And I’m not seriously contemplating it, but I’m absolutely in need of some options.
I’m not yet 50, and I’m gray. Not just “Oh, look, a gray hair – want me to pluck it?” gray.  Under these L’Oreal Dark Golden Brown roots, I’m Paula Deen.
How did this happen? Heredity. The women in my family all have lost their pigment early; I noticed my first patch of gray at 27, when I was pregnant with Caroline. I was coloring a skunk stripe at 29. Now, two decades later, I’m touching up snow-white roots every two weeks.
I’ve tried various means of disguising the issue. I went blonde several years ago – a good theory (the light hair would make the outgrowth not quite so heinous), but a bad, bad idea. My eyebrows are dark, my complexion is olive-ish, and I ended up looking cheap and sort of unfinished, like an Instagram photo on the Walden setting -- interesting in an unsettling way, but just not right.
So I returned my strands to their birth color and started paying a very nice woman too much money every six weeks to touch up my roots. Now I’m coloring them myself for the most part and seeing her every couple of months to tune everything up – I’m sorry, but I refuse to hand over the equivalent of a small car payment to a professional when the gray at my temples pops out every two weeks no matter what brand of color tries to keep it in check.
I’m at a loss. I’m tired of trying to keep up the color; it’s messy and gross and I never get everything covered. But paying $160 twice a month to maintain my hair just isn’t going to happen.
I know two people who have given up. Each was about my age when she threw in the towel, and each is a lovely woman. One looks like Sheena Easton – lovely with high cheekbones, delicate features and a pixie haircut – and she would look good bald, so the shock of white hair on her perky little head works just fine.  The other woman looks a bit more like the rest of us, and even though she remains attractive, she looks a good 10 years older.  I’m not ready for that.
How shallow, you say as you shake your head. I know, and I agree with you – after all, I’m a feminist who has concentrated on “pretty on the inside” for a very long time now. But I still like to look good, and it’s becoming more and more difficult as the waist thickens and jowls form and I need a bra with about 16 hooks in the back. My hair has always been thick and wavy and able to do all kinds of things; it used to be  a “go-to” feature when I really cared about looking nice.
It still is thick and wavy, but good God, it’s white. To see how that changes things, Google a recent picture of the singer Grace Slick. The woman is, and always has been, gorgeous. But now she looks less like a seductress and more a lunch lady. (Not that being  a lunch lady is bad. But you know what I mean.) 
“Let it go gray,” Kevin says. Then I ask him if he realizes that will make me look like his mom, and he stops talking.
Is anyone else in this predicament? Have you resigned yourself to a lifetime of ridiculous salon charges? Have you gone the do-it-yourself route?  Or are you embracing your glorious, white-haired self?  I’m at a crossroads, and I really do want to know.

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