An interesting alignment of the stars happened the other day. Tuesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day. Also on that day, BU Today (the Boston University community’s e-newsletter) ran an article profiling the work of an “anti-feminist” writer who is a BU alum. March 8th was also the day I had an appointment to get my haircut. How did this triene of events become an important personal day for me? The answer is, March 8th, 2011 also became the day that I finally decided to no longer dye my hair.
Now, I have been going back and forth on the hair dying thing for years. In the beginning, I was a holdout: I waited until I could no longer get away with explaining the dull silver hairs that were quickly overtaking my head on “the lighting”. I think this happened in my early to late 40’s if I am remembering correctly (and I may well NOT be remembering correctly as I am now 50 and experiencing all of the hormonal shifting and memory loss any good peri-menopausal woman should, but let’s go with early to late 40’s, ok?). With my decision to dye my hair came the salon experience of semi-permanent coloring. I started off with a natural medium brown – my natural color. Ahhhh…I’m me again! Hello again, brown-haired me! About 6 months into my monthly salon dye jobs I realized that my efforts to reclaim my brown hair were hitting my pocketbook HARD! My salon visits that used to be costing me around $40.00 a pop, were now costing me over $100.00! I’m not independently wealthy! And, with my sweet Maltese Rudy’s monthly “spa days” (doggie “shower and a shave”) costing as much as I was paying for my haircuts, I fast realized that I needed to take a more economic approach to my war on my gray hair. That approach came in the form of drugstore “box o’ hair color” and then – when I serendipitously discovered the “discount beauty store” - the cheap hairstylists’ standard, and my new best friend, Wella®!
Flash forward to the past year… With every haircut and loss of color that naturally occurs over time with these semi-permanent/wash out color treatments, I realized that more and more of my brown hair was giving up the ghost (literally)! But what I also began to notice was that there is a certain “patch” of my hair – right in the front – that was coming in with a vengeance creating a kind of Lily Munster-esq quality to my coif. Interestingly, instead of being mortified, my reaction was “this is kinda cool”! And, what’s even cooler is that the once dull gray color is now a beautiful white! WOW! It was with that new-found excitement, that I started to contemplate not dying my hair.
The best part of all of this was the shift in my energy: what was once an outcome that I was trying my best to distance myself from, became an exciting prospect that I started to desire! Regularly I found myself scrutinizing my hair in the mirror to see if all of the dye had been washed out. I started to notice all kinds of “older” women - many who wear an uber-short hairstyle as I do – opting for a “salt and pepper” look, and found myself saying “yeah...that’s what I’m talking about”. Jaime Lee Curtis – whose Activia® commercials seem to run 185 times per day – looks cool...hip...FANTASTIC...ME!
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women, past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women's Day is a national holiday. In the United States, it seems International Women’s Day is just another day with the exception of the few media outlets that ran stories about women or for women. BU Today chose to run a story about a writer who believes that “feminism” is a dirty word and that men and women in society today are suffering as a result of women feeling pressured to fulfill both traditional and non-traditional roles. I have strong opinions about that stance, but that’s for another time... The point is that International Women’s Day this year and that BU Today article created the needed tipping point for me to take that final step toward embracing the grey(ish) haired me. Ahhh...I’m me again. Hello there, grey(ish) haired me!