Graying gracefully

Or, going salt-and-pepper in a Clairol world

Ever since watching a video the other day of the woman who’s had the most plastic surgeries in the world, I’ve been thinking about aging.

Specifically, about me aging.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve thought about going gray ever since my mother began coloring her hair years ago.

Specifically, I vowed not to.

“You’ll change your mind, Ellen,” she predicted. “Just wait until the gray starts coming in and you look old.”

Looking old. That’s the problem. Like everyone else, I maintain that I’m the same person inside. I may have changed some of my opinions, sure —  may have even actually abandoned some previously held notions due to two strange things that seems to have happened to me: namely, wisdom and experience.

That said, though — I can still relate to the thin, dark-brown-haired 22-year-old version of myself. I remember much of what I thought and felt at the time. Then, my life was before me. Now, a good chunk of it is over. Yet youthful optimism has not left me, despite the slings ’n’ arrows of outrageous fortune and other Shakespearian tragedies that I have endured.

So what’s all that white stuff in my hair? Do I look old?

Strangely, I don’t think so. Or more specifically, it doesn’t scare me and I don’t think it looks bad. Those coarse gray hairs have brought a little curl with them. The variations in color give my bushy head some depth. They add a little — dare I say it? — style to my general appearance that I think looks pretty good with the cowboy-boot-and-swinging-serape thing that I’ve had going on the last few years.

I’m starting to think how hip it might be to look like a colorful old broad with a lot of life left in her. Seriously, I realize I’m not really breaking new ground here. Like everything else that’s happened to me in the last 10 years, many Boomers already got there first and their brand of aging with style has already become well-documented — particularly in car commercials and ads for erectile dysfunction medications.

But no matter. I’ve already taken a tip from the best of them. Several years ago, a friend who’s about 10 years older than I told me what she found so great about turning 50. She no longer cared what people thought. She’d emancipated herself, she confided, from the shackles of others’ negative opinions. She’d do what she liked, wear what pleased her and generally divorced herself from the crippling tyranny of the judgmental disapproval of others.

So I thought, hey I’ll beat the rush and start not giving a damn now. By the time I’m 50 I’ll have gotten the hang of it perfectly.

So that’s pretty much what I’ve done.

I should add here that I certainly do care what I say or do, if it hurts others’ feelings. I’m not talking about blazing through life like I’m the only person that matters.

No, I’m talking about dressing to please myself, listening to the music I enjoy, going against the grain and completely avoiding television and maintaining a completely oblivious state when it comes to either college or professional sports.

And letting my hair go gray.

Sure, like Mom predicted, I might change my mind if I indeed start looking too old. But I figure by the time that day comes, I’ll actually be old, instead of just being a little gray and a little wide in the butt.

As my 40s spin out and 50 seems more and more to be an actual age I’ll become one day, I see also the possibilities of 60. As my mom heads toward 70, somehow that doesn’t seem like the end of the world either. And as I glance at my now-age-spotted hands, I don’t see imperfections, I see the hands of my grandmother — hands I loved dearly and miss every day of my life.

And becoming like her … well, that’s not so scary either.

5 thoughts on “Graying gracefully

  1. this reminds me of one of my favorite Tina Fey/30 Rock quotes: “You can try to fight getting older. You can be like Madonna and cling to youth with your Gollum arms, or you can be like Meryl Streep and embrace your age with elegance.” hahahaha. And Ellen, you look great 🙂

    1. ohmygoodness… do you really only have a scattered few? sigh I didn’t mind my grey either, THEN. Now I am nearly all grey. UNDER the color that is. 🙂

      I am, however, in that range of pleasing ME, when it comes to comfort and appearance. I like to look nice, but I do it for me, and I dress comfortably when I feel like it, for me. It’s free~ing, yes?

      Thanks for sending the link. Love to read your blog, but do need reminding. xoxo

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