The gray is coming!
Oh, it’s definitely coming.
I first discovered the gray appearing in my bangs in 2002 during Spring Break sophomore year of college. We were in the bright light of the Nite family guest bathroom when I discovered it. I shrieked for my bestie Mary to check it out, and she laughed at the two (not one! two!) white/gray hairs poking out.
I didn’t really think about it after that. I don’t remember whether I pulled them out or not, but soon after we moved to Nashville in the summer of 2007, I started finding more. At my mom’s retirement party that summer, I saw an old teacher of mine from high school. When I first greeted her, she snarled, “Kate, you’ve got two bright gray hairs right there in front. You better pluck ‘em out, honey.”
I was horrified! Instead I said, “Oh I like my little friends! I’m keeping them.” I quickly downed a glass of wine, but ultimately knew that I was not going to pull them out.
By the following summer, I counted somewhere around 27 (ok, precisely 27) gray hairs in my bangs, around my ears, and in my part.
As someone who has never dyed her hair, I thought this new color was fun at first. “Cool . . . highlights!”
Then, I started wondering about the rapidity of the gray onslaught. How soon would the gray dominate my head? Would I be completely gray at 30?
Another thing I was grappling with: how to handle them. They were shorter than the rest of my hair. Obviously, when other hairs fell out (at the normal rate, not the male pattern baldness rate), the gray ones would just grow back in their place. So, instead of brown flyaways, I’d have little gray, wirey antennae. I was becoming the old, gray-lady alien from Planet Prematurn. I couldn’t pull them out, because they’d just grow back.
I decided I would grow them out and blend them in. They were actually pretty.
Then, I started hearing more and more complaints from some older people about how much they hated gray hair. Even my favorite people who had never started dyeing their hair began to, and I was disappointed. I even considered dropping the Nashville stylist I finally committed to because she gave me several tips on how to get rid of the gray, even though I didn’t ask for the advice or mention I didn’t like the new intruders. I was slowly realizing that not everyone out there would be supportive of my going-gray movement. (Some people my age — my closest friends, for example – were completely supportive.)
I realized that not dyeing my hair would be personally harder than I thought. Regardless of the fact that my husband and parents were supportive, I would be in the small minority of folks who have never dyed their hair. Since I had yet to color my hair in any way (except for a funny night with Kool Aid in 7th grade), I wasn’t going to start spending the time and money injecting unnatural color into my healthy mane.
And, once I decided that this would just have to be something of a personal battle with the rest of the world, I started finding small victories everywhere I looked. One of the kindest ladies at church has beatiful streaks of gray, all natural. The very young saleswoman at J Crew with prematurely white hair made her bob cute and trendy. The nice alumna I met at Homecoming was the most beautiful one from the Class of ’78. (Yes, I’m aware that this makes her 26 years old than me. But, still.) It was comforting to know that if I did go fully gray, it was possible to do it with a degree of class and beauty.
Model/actress Cindy Joseph, who my mom and I always admired in the J Jill and Sundance catalogs, is a beautiful example of someone who simply let her gray hair grow. She is beautiful and her hair is stunning: http://hairbrained.wordpress.com/category/gray/.
So, for now, I’m going to enjoy my long brown locks while I have them. I can handle knowing there will be a day when I’m fully salt and pepper… hopefully not before age 30.