03 December 2006

Feeling Gravity's Pull

I’m letting my hair grow out, and it’s at that awkward stage. My bangs are too long and the sides are scraggly, so I sometimes use headbands to keep the wild tresses tamed. Today I went vintage, pulling the bangs and sides on top of my head, fastened with a stylish tortoise-shell barrette. And what I saw made my heart stop: a huge streak of gray hair curling behind my left ear. Not just a few strands, but a wide swath of salt and pepper, my youth draining from my curls.

I look pretty good, but I’m just back-dated, yeah.

I’ve always seen myself as the type who will grow old gracefully and naturally. I’ve had a few shoots of gray here and there, but I’ve been happily surprised that my hair has naturally stayed Ronnie Reagan black for so long. I planned on going all Emmylou, embracing my gray and coming out with a lovely head of white flowing locks. I’ve earned those grays and I thought I’d celebrate the new stage.

Every silver lining's got a touch of grey.

And yet … I feel old every time I look at that streak. It isn’t cool like Elsa Lanchester’s in “Bride of Frankenstein.” It looks dowdy, past its prime. I’ve found myself wondering if it’s Clairol time. The women in my family miraculously turn blonde when they hit the gray stage. But I don’t think I can rock a blonde ‘do like they do.

How young are you? How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes.

So, do I give in to vanity and ageism … or do I suck it up and learn to love the gray? And if I give in, which flavor am I? The saucy redhead? A demure brunette, with a few streaks of blonde? Dying it the same shade of black is out since that color rarely replicates well out of a bottle. Violet would be fun ...

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At 12/03/2006 09:57:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

Get thee to a colorist. After several bad high school and college attempts at highlighting, I learned to give myself over to the professionals. I have a ton of grey, but you can't tell, and unless you knew me before I became a redhead, you would never know that this is not the color God gave me. (Well, I guess there is another way to tell, but let's not get into that)

As for black, my best friend is really really grey, and our colorist gives her the same black/brown shade she had growning up. A good colorist is worth his weight in chocolate.

At 12/03/2006 09:58:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I have had grey highlights put in for years. No big whoop.

At 12/04/2006 12:41:00 AM, Anonymous m said...

spoken like a true dude there, dale.

believe me, anyone can rock the blonde if they wanna. it can be fun too! but i agree with lulu, get thee to a colorists!

At 12/04/2006 02:34:00 AM, Blogger barista brat said...

i've always told myself that i will dye my hair as soon as i see the first bit of grey.

maybe it's because my mother was almost fully grey by the time she hit 40.

At 12/04/2006 06:11:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

It's not grey showing through Beth, it's silver blonde.

You'll stay eternally youthful.

At 12/04/2006 06:46:00 AM, Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"Oh, boo-honkin'-hoo!" says the man who has been gray since twenty ; )

Seriously, it'll look good on ya.

First, whatever you do, don't worry about them, it only causes more of them to appear. Second, even if you dye them, they curl and kink in ways that aren't normal to nature, so they'll stick out regardless.

Third, dye away. But when you're at the Emmy Lou stage, embrace the gray.

At 12/04/2006 07:31:00 AM, Anonymous rcofchs said...

I agree with Write Procrastinator, embrace the grey. You have always been cool and confident. A women who can wear salt and pepper confidently is different and interesting.

If you don't like it grey, you can always go the color route.

At 12/04/2006 07:45:00 AM, Anonymous Old Lady said...

I have extremely dark brown hair and a grey streak. I like my grey streak, but I am experimenting with lightening my hair, and keeping the gray streaks. With your hairs being slightly darker than mine I will tell you that any processing will damage your hair.

Lulu is right, a good colorist is worth their weight in gold. Go see one first.

At 12/04/2006 12:03:00 PM, Anonymous CD said...

I like my blonde hair going grey in bits. Kinda wish it would go grey all over... goes nice with my eyes. But I think you should stay with your beautiful raven hair.. and just see what the grey looks like .... Embrace it!

At 12/04/2006 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I think grey can look very distinguished. At least that's what I hope.

At 12/04/2006 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Peter said...

The women have covered the practical advice angle. When in doubt, I also defer to Jerry Garcia-"kind of suits you anyway."

But there's nothing wrong with a good dye job

At 12/04/2006 01:49:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Have you considered perhaps a day-glo green, like the shade of Mountain Dew. You wouldn't have to wear reflective clothing when riding your bike at night. Just brainstorming...

At 12/04/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

LULU: Problem is, my hair's so dark, my color options are limited. And, well, I love my black hair ... and I have yet to find a colorist who can match it so that it looks natural.

DALE: My gray was coming in like streaks and it looks cool ... but this patch ain't cool. Maybe I'll learn to love it.

M: dan and I once Photoshopped different hair colors for me ... and blonde is definitely not my way to go. On me it's bland ... and we know I don't want to blend into walls.

BRAT: Mama started going gray in high school, and she was salt-and-pepper by her thirties. Her natural color is a beautiful white (now covered by beautiful blonde). If my hair would magically turn completely white, I'd be happy; it's the in-between that's distressing me.

BEN: You're so cute. I love "silver blonde." And I'm quoting you on the "eternally youthful" line; can you write it up with a COA for me?

WRITE PROCRASTINATOR: I wanna be the curly Emmylou!

At 12/04/2006 04:00:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

RCOFCHS: Have I told you lately that I love you?

OLD LADY: I like your color strategy; maybe I'll try that one day.

CD: I'll embrace! I've never noticed a gray on your head, so it must blend well with the blonde.

GRANT MILLER: But does a chick want to look distinguished?

PETER: I wonder if the gray kind of suits me ... I've earned 'em, right?

CHRIS: Oooooh; I like that idea! But that could interfere with my stalking activities since I'd glow in the dark.

At 12/04/2006 04:32:00 PM, Blogger lulu said...

Beth, I would send you to my colourist, but Evanston Illinos would be a long trip every 6 weeks. That dark black/brown can be reproduced, you just need to shop around.

Find a salon that uses Framesi products as they are some of the most natural ones around, and the stylists using them are required to undergo lots and lots of training.

At 12/04/2006 05:06:00 PM, Blogger Melinda June said...

I find that my dark dark brown can be replicated, as well, and I have taken to adding auburn highlights to add some shine. Dark colors look flat on their own.

Don't listen to the men. They'll tell you to embrace the grey, but that's a pile of hooey.

At 12/04/2006 08:28:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Good lord, I have more gray than you do sweetie! I say give it a chance. Then go pink or green if you don't like it. Get plenty of tattoos and piercings later on and go eccentric!

At 12/04/2006 08:33:00 PM, Anonymous Glassmeow said...

I wanted to go all silver all at once when I hit 40. My hair was long then - past my shoulders and no "real" gray to it. Got talked out of it due to difficulty of stripping all of own color first - wouldn't take dye evenly. Since then it's been shorter. Mostly blonder but had a stint as a redhead. Had green extensions in it at one point, on blonde (but I wouldn't recommend extensions 'cause the green ones are Barbie Doll hair and they get all fuzzy and weird). I guess the point of all this is to say - try a lot of things! Experiment! Have fun! Blue (just about any shade) looks stellar in Raven black locks. The cool thing 'bout hair is that even if you don't like it, it grows back and you can do something else!

At 12/04/2006 09:10:00 PM, Blogger kfluff said...

Oooh, I'll go with glassmeow and vote for blue. Violet--also very cool. Hell, if it's behind your ear, you can go nuts! (and it can always be covered over...)

At 12/05/2006 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

glassmeow is right. have fun with you with your raven black locks!

At 12/05/2006 02:07:00 PM, Blogger The Ambiguous Blob said...

It's very chic and fabulous to have an uber dark violet/dark red mane. Try it out and yes, definietly get a pro on the job!

At 12/07/2006 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

LULU: If you promise to take me out post-coloring, I'd almost make that Evanston trip every six weeks. I bet you and I could turn the town upside-down. But I'll keep the product suggestion, in case I go for color here.

MELINDA JUNE: I got streaks about six years ago, after the first breakup with the ex. I had auburn and magenta and purple, but they didn't show up much on the black tresses. I might try it again, though.

DAN: Be sure to come with me when I show Mama my pink hair and tatts.

GLASSMEOW: I was once in an outdoor wedding and had to wear a girlie pink sundress, so I got temporary purple hair color. It was fab; the sun gave me a purple halo!

KFLUFF: I think I'd like violet ...

M: Or should I go all Elsa Lanchester, with the thick white stripe?

AMBIGUOUS BLOG: Welcome! Y'all about have me convinced to play with the color.

At 12/08/2006 06:11:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

or you could go susan sontag.


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