Monday, June 9, 2014

Smacking the Culture With My Hair


Well, sorta.
My sister-in-law also helped by pinning this picture that linked to this site which is equal parts odd and inspiring.

I've tried this before, half-heartedly.  Usually because I was too lazy to take up a night dying yet again or oblivious to see how bad my roots were.  I can't be the only one who forgets what I look like until I see a picture of myself, can I?  But after reading Kendra's post, I felt inspired to try again and this is the grayest it's ever been. 

I've been going gray since about college.  Several of my sisters have the same trait and my one sister actually started in high school (well, eighth grade...she still has a memory of her teacher pointing a gray hair out to the entire class and embarrassing her!).  We've always been told it's an Irish trait.  Or maybe that was just to make us feel less weird.  I followed my sisters' lead and started dying it from a box regularly.  I've never been one to get it done professionally and have to prevent my jaw from dropping anytime someone tells me how much it costs.  I'll take my five dollar box and the judgey glances from the hair stylists, thank you.  Any time I stopped for a little while I would start to feel haggard and tired looking and so I would give in and do it again, tolerating the horrid smells and black neck smears and random stains in the bathroom.  
But I'm tired of it and after reading her post, I wanted to try again and give it a better shot.  

So behold my current hair.

It's pretty bad, I know (and these were the "good" shots!).  It's in another awkward phase.  Those of us non-Kendras who have dark hair have a less graceful transition to the gray and it certainly shows up a lot more.  When I first started doing it a couple months ago, I actually got a few sincere compliments and I even sort of liked it.  The last few weeks it's been transitioning again and I just look worn. (I looked up synonyms for haggard and got to cadaverous...eh, I don't think I'd go that far ;)  Lately, I can tell people are surprised that I would dare to look like this and I can see them parsing their words and trying to say something nice.  It's slightly entertaining.  I'm hoping that it's just a phase that will pass and it will start to look more intentional again. 

But can I tell you something?  Despite how I know I look older and yes, maybe a bit more haggard, I feel better about myself.  I feel like I'm looking more like God wants me to look and like I'm not trying to hold onto something that is so fleeting and fight something that I don't even care that much about fighting.  I have more confidence.  Maybe this could be my 'thing', you know?  I feel like I'm looking at a culture that says only youth is beautiful and worth emulating and the last thing you ever ever want to be is -gasp- old, a culture that tells women they should spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to look like they haven't aged, and I'm giving it a good right smack in the face.  It started out as a little experiment but now I almost feel like I can actually challenge a cultural status quo in my own little way just by refusing to accept that lie.  Because, really?  What is wrong with gray hair anyway?  Who decided that going to a salon and dropping a week's worth of groceries only to come out looking like someone strapped a bleached tiger pelt to my head (and like every other twenty-something walking out of the salon which is always, always what they want to do to me...) is beautiful?  
Who decided that God was wrong when He said,
"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life?" 
(Proverbs 16:31...I defaulted from my normal RSV translation which called it "a hoary head" ;)
I don't know about the righteous life part, but maybe I can claim that glory part.

I don't at all think it's wrong to color one's hair.  Obviously.  There's a huge difference between doing something because you want to and doing it because you feel like you're supposed to.  I'm just not buying that supposed to anymore.  

But all that said? 
 I still reserve the right to throw all this out the window, claim cadaverous status, and rip into that five dollar box waiting for me in the medicine cabinet. 





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34 comments:

  1. bleached tiger pelt?!?!?!?! Love it! I think you look great (but I get it "reserving the right" the change it whenever you want!) I know so many women with fabulous gray hair, I'm (hesitantly) looking forward to it :)

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    1. Clearly skunks are more my thing than tigers ;)

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  2. you know, i was thinking yesterday, that because you have more of it running through the length of your hair rather than just at the top, it almost looks like really blonde highlights and comes off more natural and integrated into the rest of your hair. I'm actually kind of interested to see how it will look if you let it all grow in. What % do you think is grey and what color are your eyebrows?

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  3. and just a thought for the future in case you end up wanting to dye it...what if you dyed it a much lighter color so that when the grey does grow in, there won't be such a color contrast and it will blend in more? i think that can be the hard part...being in between colors and not one way or the other, maybe you could fool yourself with this technique and then be able to let all the dye grow out. what is your natural color?

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    1. I would say I'm at least 35-40% The pictures don't show how gray it is underneath :) My natural is dark dark brown (and so are my eyebrows!) which is what I always dyed it because I don't like the brassy browns and reds. Gray definitely pops in it :) That's why I actually feel like it looks more "unnatural" like this than before because I'm used to that dark hair...but I also think the old dye is fading, too, so that's making it look lighter overall. But I suppose my new natural IS lighter which is weird.

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  4. You have such pretty hair and such a pretty face! I don't think it matters what someone's hair looks like...thats not what is important anyway. How we treat others and our relationship with God is so much more important than cosmetics. For me, I've struggled with wearing make-up. I used to think I couldn't even leave the house unless I had make-up on. I still wear a base sometimes, especially for Mass, but I've been leaving all the other stuff off and I feel so much better about myself and don't feel like I have to hide behind a mask anymore. Even better is that my husband says he likes it better without the make-up too.

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    1. Love this! I still do wear makeup, though I'm not sure you can tell. (I don't really have any idea what I'm doing and every morning feel like a little girl playing dress up in her mother's bathroom ;)

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  5. I think the haircut makes a major difference in how gray looks. Your hair cut works well with the gray. And yours does have a highlight effect. My gray is very heavy right at the front of my part and I feel that if I let it to its own way I would look like Cruella Deville. And then I would feel like I looked mean.
    You also have beautiful skin that changes the look of the gray.
    I think if you want to let the gray come out it is good to do it while you are young like you.
    Enjoy the hassle free part and go for it

    Grandma

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    1. I do have some skunk action going on but it's evening out as the rest of the gray comes in!

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  6. I think it's beautiful and I love the length! I don't think I'll go gray anytime soon, but I've recently stopped dying my hair and the growing out process is the hardest. I hated the maintenance (and cost - because I was going to a salon) of it.

    Poor Kevin is losing hair quickly...he keeps threatening to shave his head and be done with it.

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    1. Oh my goodness...I took a few shots and looked JUST like Kevin. It creeped me out because, well, he's a man and all. Glad I'm not balding. Yet.

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  7. I totally agree. And I, too, reserve the right to change my mind at any juncture.

    I have a friend who was committed to aging gracefully until someone thought her husband was her younger brother. She made tracks to the salon.

    I don't like feeling compelled to do that the culture at large tells me I have to do. Well, okay, I shave and use deodorant. I'm not a total rebel. But just because everyone has cable or everyone has a smart phone or whatever the latest trend is, I'm not going to run out the door to follow suit. The Irish may gray earlier, but we're also feisty.

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    1. Yes, I think the "contrary" part of that old rhyme applies to this Mary quite well, too ;)

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  8. I had to laugh - my older girls like to point out how much gray they can see in my hair. I can't see it, so I don't worry about it! My mom is still miffed that she didn't go all silver-grey like my Nana (who was Irish) did at 30.

    I really don't see what the big deal is with grey - go au natural! Besides, you can always blame it on the boys! (that's what I do! lol)

    blessings
    karen

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    1. I had a neighbor who had a leeettle too much to drink at a party who LITERALLY started touching my hair and asking, "is that from the boys?" She looked very concerned. I found it hysterical.

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  9. You've inspired me! I will stop ripping out those grays that I find... besides, if I keep that up, I'll eventually go bald and gray is SO much better than bald! ... but all this is still vanity; eh, maybe one day I'll give that up, too. ;)
    Way to go, Mary!

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  10. I completely agree that it is much harder to gray when you are a dark brunette. I also have that streak of gray by my face. And I also started going gray in college, but it has really come in these last few years. I wish there was some easy way to avoid the growing out process . . . Just get rid of the color all at once and let the gray do its thing.

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    1. I've also found that my gray is a lot easier to manage when it is colored. Otherwise it is a spring, wiry mess. Good luck with the transition. That cut is really cute on you.

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  11. I think it looks fantastic! Way to go, Mary. I've got some gray, too, but I often forget about it. I call it survival. ;)

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  12. I'm in my mid 40's and really just started graying to where it shows more on the sides, but not too much and I also have dark hair. I'm not one to "conform" to the culture and could care less, really, as far as one's hair goes. Wear your hair was YOU like it - not as the culture "thinks" you need to have it. Beauty is NOT just defined by the "culture" at large. Be comfortable in your own and love what God has provided you... It is who you are, naturally! :)

    Blessings,
    Krista

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  13. I'm 100% Irish and haven't started graying yet!! But that's ok because I have really thin straight hair and I think I might go bald before I go gray which is a LOT worse, right? BUt then I can just wear a really cool wig and never have to do my hair again. Always a bright side! I love your cut, and I think you can totally pull off the gray hair look. What does your husband think? I always try to take my hubby's vote into consideration...it's why I don't have bangs!

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    1. Worst: graying AND balding. Which is what I've been dealing with and what first prompted the cut. He says he likes it but he's not too picky about that stuff! He has that annoying trait of saying I look beautiful even when I know it's completely untrue ;)

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  14. Your post made me laugh! I have the same issues w/ dark hair and an ever growing crop of grey. I have dyed my hair since college but the last straw was about 6 months ago when I accidently squeezed the dye bottle a bit too hard and splattered dye across the bathroom ceiling. The whole ceiling needed to be repainted and I felt horrible. My husband took it well, but I haven't dared to dye my hair since! The verdict is still out on how I feel about the greys (I really do think it makes me look more tired and worn down) but a new "40ish" makeup routine is helping (I''m not a makeup person, but I found this brand of natural cosmetics that are really great).

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    1. Oh no! I could totally see myself doing that!! I've ruined towels, rugs, shirts (of course), and even tile. That stuff is ruthless.

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  15. I experienced something similar when I was pregnant with my first... I had golden blonde hair growing up, but by high school it was pretty mousy. I started getting it highlighted at a salon twice a year at fifteen, but stopped at twenty-four because I felt uncomfortable doing that while pregnant. (Also, we couldn't really afford it!) And you know what? Now that my true color - which isn't gray, just a really dark blonde - is all in, I actually like it better! It suits me. It's amazing how embracing God's plan allows your real and unrepeatable beauty to show forth.

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  16. you look beautiful! and the looks might have been people wondering if u were pregnant since that is also one of our things- to not dye in the first trimester!

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    1. at least that's what happens to me when I am too lazy to dye it- people immediately think I am pregnant!!!

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  17. Ok, I LOVE it! I have never been one to dye my hair anyways and have never understood the fascination of dye-ing my hair just to color it. Maybe I am just too lazy . . . I do not think I would keep up with it! I do understand wanting to if you are going gray, but I think gray is beautiful! The transition may be tough, but I think it looks so good!

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  18. I've been swimming in pregnancy/doula books so please forgive this analogy. At least I know you'll probably understand. :)

    I'm trying to approach this like unmedicated childbirth. Each time I hit a crisis point in my level of vanity pain, I tell myself that I will just get through another year and then decide. I'll be 38 in September. That's almost 40. One step closer to an age when gray is actually culturally acceptable. So I'm not going to touch my head before I'm 40. Then I'll see how much pain I'm in and either breathe through the vanity contraction or start begging for the box color. ;)

    You look lovely, btw! The cut is darling and the transition really does look soft.



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  19. I love it! Good for you! I hope I have the courage to "gray gracefully" as well :-)

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  20. I *love* gray hair! I think all the silver peeking through looks so beautiful!!
    I finally have a few gray strands and I just love them.
    I do agree that God made us just the way we should be - even if the world doesn't approve:)

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  21. I'm going through the exact same process now - I veer between loving it/feeling really countercultural and authentic and despairing that I've lost all youth and beauty. :) I think yours looks lovely and suits you well. I found this blog series really encouraging when I was deciding to ditch the bottle: http://howbourgeois.blogspot.com/p/its-gray-hair-party.html (I can't vouch for the rest of the blog, but her posts on going grey were lovely).

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    1. Well, that blog sucked me right in for a good half hour! I love her hair! I go through the same back and forth but most of the time I completely forget to even THINK about my hair which is a problem in itself :) Good luck with the growing out...glad to know I'm not alone!

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