Posted by Caren Crane Jul 8 2012, 12:37 am in best friend, Best Friends, Caren Crane, going gray, Gray Hair, Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Miss Clairol, premature gray, Ted Danson, white hair, women's hair
About six weeks ago, my best friend decided she was going to break her most solemn vow. For decades she has declared she will never, ever let her hair go gray. She would, she declared, keep coloring it until she was in the nursing home. She even made me promise I would come to the nursing home and color it for her! This was rather a solemn “I will never let my best friend look old and haggard” type promise.
But now, she has turned over a new leaf. A gray leaf. I was skeptical at first, then slightly horrified. My friend, you see, is only 44 but her hair has been gray since she was in her early 20s. Not a little gray. Not a strand here or there. It has been growing out solid gray from the roots all over her head since she was very young. Her mother grayed in just the same way – thanks heredity! So for her, the “no gray hair” vow was not undertaken lightly. Now she was ready to let me off the hook with the coloring-her-hair-until-she-dies thing. What changed her mind?
Well, it seems her once-gray hair (after 20 years) has decided to turn white. Yes, white. The new white hair will not take any color whatsoever, but reverts to its brilliant lack of cover within days of a visit to the hairdresser. My friend – tired of coloring her hair every three weeks – gave up. Her hairdresser and I both expected her to run back for fresh color within a week or two (or three), but she has firmly committed to this new white hair. Although it’s shocking to see the solid wall of white above her auburn hair, I’m starting to get used to it. Still, her decision that shook me to the core.
I, too, made a vow to color until they pried the Miss Clairol from my cold, dead fingers. I did not start graying prematurely, but I always loved to color my hair. I like to mix it up, add highlights, go darker, go lighter. Changing hair color is fun for me! I do have a little gray now that I’m in my late 40s. Some strands framing my face and a few near my part. They don’t really bother me, but I won’t need to worry about looking seriously gray for years to come. Still, it makes me wonder whether I will wake up one day and find that my gray strands are now white and it just makes sense to “let it go”. I like to think I would be okay with that – as insouciant as, say, my best friend – but I just don’t know!
Older actresses tend to keep coloring their hair. Sometimes they disappear for a while (usually in their 60s), then make an appearance and unveil their new look – gray hair. Some women wear it very well, like Helen Mirren. Her blond hair segued to gray and now looks more white. She’s gorgeous! Or Jamie Lee Curtis – also beautiful! Actually, I found dozens of pictures of “regular” women, like me, who had gray or white hair and were absolutely lovely. I want to think that one day I will find a way to graciously grow out my gray hair and blend it with the brown I love (thanks, Miss Clairol!). That I will make some magical transition and one day – poof! – I will turn up and astonish everyone with my lovely gray-haired. Who can know?
We don’t tend to admire gray hair on women as we do on men (who get to be “distinguished” – lucky them!). We generally just think gray-haired women look old. It shouldn’t be that way, but there it is. So here’s a question for you: Have you ever admired (or regretted) someone’s decision to go gray? How will you (or did you) handle your own fade to gray? And how in the world can we claim that “distinguished” label for ourselves? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s strategies! (Which I can then steal for myself! )