Thursday, December 17, 2009

to dye or not to dye

Last night I had dinner with a friend and she asked what's next. Not what's next for FLOW, for pr, for my constant marketing mindset, but what's next for me. Did I have any idea what I wanted to tackle, what subject spoke to me, what sort of project I might want to delve into.

Yup, I do. Wrinkle: the Cultural Story of Aging.

And then, we talked. We dished. We compared stories in a way that not many people do. I find, in many respects, aging to be another subject that most people don't talk about comfortably. We swore that we'd let each other know if, and when, straggly chin hairs were noticeable. Ugh. Just writing that as if it's potentially in my future, was unnerving. We talked about hair sprouting in the most unlikely of places, body parts sagging. Veins sticking out of our hands, the inevitable middle thickening, in spite of regular exercise and healthy diets. The difference in skin quality. The burgeoning jowls that run in her family, the chin swag that runs in mine. I can feel the very faintest glimmer of less than elastic skin right above my neck and understand people who wanted to believe wearing an elastic wrap at night, that wound tight from under their chin around their head, would keep the drag from happening. We talked about not wearing shorts anymore (although I went back to bikinis a couple of summers ago), that no one really needed to see that much of our legs. We talked about botox and plastic surgery, moisturizers and skin treatments. And hair.

As in to dye or not to dye.

So far, I'm in pretty good shape. At 45 and counting, there's a little grey happening, but not enough that anyone would notice unless specifically searching. My secret tip? Sun-in, the same stuff I used in junior high to make by hair blonder. Every couple of months, I spritz my head, blow dry it in and somehow that masks what's going on. I've got good hair, all sort of blonde and brown that work together to keep grey overpowered. But, when more takes over, I'm not sure. Grey hair is one thing about aging I'm not comfortable with. Maybe, as I get more, I'll embrace the distinguished-ness of it, but I honestly, I think not. I'll go for the color. Nothing radical, no platinum or jet black, just my own color, bottle-enhanced.

And that starts a slippery slope. If I'm fine about hair color, what about botox, to which I've always been adamantly against? Or dermabrasion (honestly, that just seems barbaric). Plastic surgery—just the thought of optional surgery terrifies me. That treatment to treat varicose veins?! Whew.

My friend's chosen to let nature take it's course and to embrace the grey. Well, she's not embracing it, but she knows she's not up to the upkeep of constant coloring, so she's accepting it. Recently, a business colleague told her how impressed with her that she's not bothered by the change. And then apologized for something that sounded insulting when she didn't mean it that way.

Or did she? It's hard not to judge. Maybe it's a way of making ourselves feel better, by comparing ourselves to others—my hair's not as grey, my face isn't as lined, my hips haven't spread *that* much.

We're all in this together folks. Every minute we're aging and no matter what products we use, what food we eat, what air we breathe, we can't stave off the inevitable. How lovely would it be to be able to accept it instead of fight it?


Alexis said...

I feel the same way about grey hair. I'm ok with wrinkling and age spots and lots of other physical manifestations of aging, but I freak out when I find a grey hair!

Sally G. said...

My dad had awesome salt and pepper hair before he went all 'salt'. My mom was very blond and seemed to go pure white overnight. In my mid-30's, my hairdresser noted significant gray coverage happening (I prefer to call it silver, really - it shimmers in the right light). Two years ago, I decided to stop colouring my hair alotogether, I wanted to see if I could rock the salt and pepper as my dad did. Friends and hairdressers alike told me I'd just look old -- but I have to say, I'm 45 ... and I'm quite loving the silver highlights - which are not patchy but all over, evenly. So I'm standing in Camp Not To Dye for now ...