I’ve had a couple odd encounters with friends who were surprised that I color my premature gray hair to brown (the color I was born with) and these same friends were not shy about saying so.
First to clarify ‘premature’. One official definition of premature is: Occurring or done before the usual or proper time; too early.
My hair has not gone gray at the ‘proper’ time, therefore it is premature gray hair that I have. I will decide when it is ‘proper’.
So back to my friends. Here is what happened.
I was getting set to go on a run with co-workers, standing outside our workplace at lunchtime when a former running buddy of mine came outside.
“Wow” he said, “are you coloring your hair? I’m surprised.”
I wasn’t sure if this comment was meant to alert me to roots needing to be recolored, or a jab of jealousy that I was about to go for a run and he wasn’t, or just a random comment that came to him. It seemed kinda rude and I responded with the first thing that came to mind.
“Wow, you’ve got a lot of nerve commenting on people’s HAIR,” I called back to my bald friend.
He chuckled and said, “You are right. I do have a lot of nerve.”
I might never have considered this encounter again, but I’ve had a similar experience a couple of other times.
Once I was out trick-or-treating and a friend called to me and my husband, “Anne, John!” We hadn’t seen her in a couple of years and she explained that she now was renting an upstairs apartment in the house we were going by. She introduced us to a friend who we had never met and we went through the quick rundown of what our kids were up to.
Then, without warning, she commented on how long it had been since we saw each other and said, “It looks like you are coloring your hair. It can’t be that you have no gray hair. I never would have thought of you as someone who would color their hair.”
In this case I don’t remember what I said, just that my jaw dropped and I stammered something like, “ah… maybe” and wondered what she meant by that last part, ‘someone who would color their hair’. What kind of a person was that?
Someone who would pretend to be something different than they are?
Someone who might try to gussy up the packaging that God gave them with a bit of help from Clairol?
And why was this so odd for me?
Had my lack of eyeliner and mascara made everyone assume that I was on a lifetime boycott from all things cosmetic?
Was there something phoney, something wrong about coloring my hair?
The reason I color my hair is simple. I want my hair to be the color that matches my mental picture of myself.
I don’t and won’t view myself as ‘old and gray’ and the two are linked in my mind. I’ve seen women who are graying who still look beautiful to me and I applaud them. Some women can pull that off and I look to them as potential role models for when I decide to stop covering up my prematurely gray hair.
For now I’m off to walk with some friends who NEVER say the wrong thing and also LOVE to stay active.
About the author: Anne Emerick is the author of Quotes for Achievement, No-Work Spanish bilingual audiobooks and a new title, Out-of-Work to Making Money, 21 Comeback Stories Every Job Hunter Should Hear.