Nicki Anderson
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Gray Expectations

By Nicki On November 27, 2012 26 Comments

Recent shot…. as a brunette.

With the recent news of the Patraeus affair, people are abuzz with disbelief. But the disbelief didn’t seem to stem from Patraeus’ behavior, more from the obvious contrast between his wife of 40 years, and his mistress.  In fact, some were heard saying, “Well, no wonder he cheated on her!”  Hmmm.

So, this got me to thinking. Was the shock and awe due to the gray haired Holly versus the brunette mistress 20 years her junior? Or, was it the contrast of thin vs. not so thin? Likely, the combination. But I wondered,  if she were fit and gray would the reaction be different? Are we so used to women coloring their hair, that when we see gray hair on a woman we think she’s a lost cause?

As a 51 year old woman, I wonder if  gray hair is an automatic sentence to frumpville?  Does it mean women who are gray no longer take pride in how they look? Do they lose their fun factor?  Why do I color my hair?  To be honest, I can’t even recall why I started coloring my hair. I suppose it just was a natural part of keeping the aging process at bay, or at least preventing the perception of being old. Like most women, I look younger when I color my hair. But the real question, does it make me FEEL younger?

This past week  I went in to get my hair colored, as I do every 4-5 weeks. I asked Terri, my hair dresser, my colorist, my stylist, “Why is it that when men start turning gray they’re distinguished? Whereas women go gray and we’re just old.”  We both surmised it’s the aging thing. But wait, why is it an aging thing with women, but not men? Why does a woman with gray hair automatically become less interesting or less eye-catching? Why is there a negative vibe around aging for women? Lord knows, we spend loads of moolah in an effort to fight the inevitable. Yes, I’m guilty.  Yet with men, put some decent cash in their bank account  and they instantly become Channing Tatum, not fair.

Men and gray hair = distinguished. Women and gray hair=old.

So, this begs the question, as women of a certain age, why do we color our hair? Is it honestly just to appear younger? Does it then make us  more attractive because youth is considered more attractive? Or is it a way of hiding something that’s not well received in today’s youth obsessed world? Perhaps all of the above.

But the question I keep coming back to is, does coloring my hair actually make me feel younger? Or  or is it society’s perception of me and how I might be viewed if I were to go gray. Hmmm.

The more I started mulling this over, the more I started wondering how I might be treated as a silver goddess? I thought about people at the supermarket, a waiter at a restaurant, and new people I meet. What would it say to other people? Do I really care that much? Would my current friends treat me differently? So many questions surrounding such a small thing, hair color.

Ultimately, with all of this introspection, I have decided to visit my natural roots. I may not stay there long, but I’m willing to try. I guess in order to go gray more gracefully, Terri said there’s a process I need to go through. You can bet  I’ll share all of those details and more as I go. With photo documentation as well.

As Terri and I chatted more deeply about my decision she asked,  “Are you sure you want to do this Nicki? I’m not sure how much gray we’ll be dealing with?” That translated to, “Be prepared, you might not like what you see.”  But why not? Is it because being gray will immediately catapult me to old? Will I actually feel older and maybe carry myself differently? Feeling more aches and pains? Kind of fascinating. Why do I assume that going gray will be a negative?  I’m sure psychologists would have some thoughts on this. I’ll have to be sure and add some interviews about that on this blog.

I rather pride myself on being mistaken for someone 10 years younger, so this is definitely a tough decision. But in truth, if I FEEL young regardless of hair color, what difference does it make?  Even before starting the process, I have a million questions on what will change when my hair does. I suppose I’ll find out.

As of today, I’m still a clear brunette. My family isn’t sure I’ll go through with it, but at this point, I’m so intrigued with the unknown, I’m ready.  As of this moment, as a brunette, I believe that age and old are not synonymous. I believe hair color should have little to do with how I feel inside, it’s more how others perceive hair color.  But perhaps these thoughts and beliefs will evolve along with my hair color.

So, here I go! Join me in my yearlong adventure. I’d love to hear from those of you that have gone gray and those of you who would spend your last penny on hair color before ever giving it up.  I have no idea what to expect, hence Gray Expectations. This should be an interesting ride! Come on, hop in and buckle your seat belt, it’s going to be a gray-t adventure. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).