I am 43, and I love my grey hair. In the photo above, I’m a bottle-brunette. In real life, I’m 95% grey. This is real life:
Here’s how the bottle brunette thing happened. For the first time in over a decade, I was growing out my short, short hair. I was bored with it, and I thought I’d have fun with a semi-permanent colour while I went through the painful process of growing it. Although it made me profoundly uncomfortable when people (crazy people, all of them) called me my kids’ grandmother, I wasn’t trying to hide the grey so much as ease the pain of the in-between stage. But then, my particular brand of grey did not absorb much of the semi-permanent colour, so I was paying for colour that did not actually take. My hairdresser said, you might as well go the whole hog, and I said, “What the hell?” and switched to permanent: permanent slavery to biweekly examinations for the skunk line at my part.
It was fun for a while having no grey, but it never felt real. I never felt like I was the real me, and while I did not mind having grey hair from the age of 20, I really hated having grey roots. I had committed to colour and to letting my hair grow, though, and I was trapped.
Until I wasn’t.
I was walking home with the kids one day in the spring, my now-shoulder-length hair scraped back into an unflatteringly harsh pony tail because the roots were bad and I hadn’t had time to deal with it. In front of me, waiting for the traffic light, was a woman I guess was in her 60s. She had less grey than I do, but hers was all showing. I felt a pang of envy. At first the envy was for her freedom. She wasn’t hiding anything. Her hair was also pulled back, but instead of my thick pony tail, hers was pulled into a clip at the base of her neck. The clip was so thin. Her hair was plentiful and long but so fine it looked on the verge of not existing at all. It was old lady hair. And it was beautiful. And my envy became the kind generated by air-brushed magazine images. “One day,” I thought, “I will have hair like that. I can’t wait.” It reminded me of my great aunt who used to braid then wrap her hair into a bun. Sometimes she would let me braid her hair before she pinned it up, and when I came to the end of the braid, it was a silver sliver. I wanted my own silver sliver.
In the time it took the light to change, “I can’t wait” became “Why wait?” and I decided to cut off all the bottled colour and go back to short and grey. See above. I haven’t looked back.