|Such a youthful brown haired person.|
For years I pretended that my hair was dark brown. How well you are looking, people would say to me, and how young. Oh, I would say, surely not! And inside I would feel smug.
This delighted me for a long time, and every six weeks I made appointments at the hairdressers to keep up the show. Not a single grey hair, and a very clever mingling of high lights into the brown as I got older so that the original dark brown did not clash with my skin as I gently aged. It did not occur to me that I could have grey hair, or white hair, and there was a wonderful disconnect between my age and hair colour, and that of my friends who were as old as me and their naturally grey and white hair. That was them, and this was me.
|Can I be like you, Miriam? x|
Then I turned fifty nine and I visited my friend Deb on her houseboat. Deb greeted me in the hot August sunshine from the deck of her boat, happy and brown, with a head of glorious naturally sun bleached white hair. I am older than Deb. She looked utterly fabulous. Damn, I thought, it is time. I want to take off my brown hat and put on a white one.
And Deb didn't look old! She just looked like Deb. I was actually jealous.
I began to look at my friends who had unashamedly grey and white hair. I had not really noticed before, but each of them looked lovely and their hair colour was nothing to do with it. These ladies, I thought, had it sussed all along. They did not look young, but they did not look old either. They looked like themselves, and I began to tot up the amount of money I would save by not going to have my hair wrapped in foils and thick brown gunk for a whole afternoon every six weeks. Millions of pounds, I thought. Millions.
(A small word here about my excellent hairdressers over the years. They do a wonderful job, they have made me very happy and I salute their hairdressing skills. They only did what I asked, and did it brilliantly.)
I am going grey! I told my friendly psychic hairdresser, Craig. I am going grey I told all my friends, and then, I waited. I stared hard at the mirror, trying to imagine what I would look like as an old lady.
The problem is, when I pull back my fringe, I look like my mother.
This leads onto part three.
Don't make me into my mother.
|I know. You can hardly see it. |
And this is a very nice photo, you
can't see the lipstick on my teeth or
the nail varnish on my tights.
The psychological journey while growing out dyed hair and embracing the white and grey has been a surprise. Nothing changes, I tell myself but actually, much does change. In surrendering to my natural hair colour at the age of fifty nine I am bound to be confronted with my own ageing. With this has come a re-evaluation of who I am. There is a real sadness about parting with how I have looked for so many years, and letting go of the youthful bloom that a head of carefully maintained brown hair has given me. In keeping the dye going, I was stalling the moment when I would have to recognise that I am older now. Waiting for the rest of my hair to grow out, I feel stuck between two identities. I can still keep my brown hair near my face and look as I always have looked, until the wind blows it just a little bit and then the white come out. Then I wonder if I look like someone who is trying to hide her real hair colour and not able to afford to cover it up. Or the sort of person who smudges her lipstick onto her teeth and doesn't care and goes out with holes in her tights with bits of nail polish to stop the laddering.
|Grace Jones as me.|
I will be sixty in August. By then this slightly depressing growing out of my brown hair to my new white and grey hair will be done. I am not my mother, but I do still look like her. I do not have to buy navy jumpers and matching navy slacks with sensible shoes, I can continue to shop in Oxfam and go for the 1970 geography teacher look that I like so much. I can continue to wear sparkly Indian type skirts and look like a gypsy. Or can I? I have no idea of how I will actually look, so it is all a bit uncertain. I will just have to get through this and have fun at the other end. I may choose to look like Grace Jones.
|The revolution. Me, Mum and all my friends.|
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