I just read an article on the Huffington Post about whether or not gray hair disadvantages a woman in the workforce. I've had gray and graying hair 75% of my life. My mother found my first white hair when iI was 13 and I'm 52 now.
I started coloring my hair when I turned 30. Photographs of me holding my third baby, born when I was 28, show me with hair the color of steel. I needed steel, then, to endure the life I was enduring, but I was so focused on survival, I didn't see it. When a hairdresser told me my hair wasn't very attractive, it occured to me she had a vested interest in making me believe my hair wasn't flattering. But I was young and vulnerable, and so I started to color.
By the time I was forty, I hated it. My hair was so white, by that point, and so fine and straight, that a white line appeared down the center of my head a mere ten days to two weeks after I colored it. I didn't like the texture - it was fine and straight where it grew in, but the closer to the ends you go, the drier and coarser it became.
Curling it permanently was out because the double processing was so hard on it. And the color wasn't right. When I was a child, my hair was such a dark brown, it looked black until you saw it in the light. But no manufactured process can replicate that color. And no other color I tried - and I tried them all - quite fit.
So on my fortieth birthday, I took the plunge and stopped coloring my hair. To my surprise, and everyone else's, my hair grew out to a soft shimmery platinum white. People stop me to ask who does my color or how I get it so white. In the same way nothing could reproduce the color of my hair in my childhood, nothing can produce the color of my hair as it naturally is.
So what would induce me to change it?
So I can fit into some corporate groupthink approved mindset of what is appealing and attractive in a woman? Not this woman, thank you. There wasn't a cubicle made that could hold me.... I drove three companies into serious financial trouble in the very short time I worked for them all. My hair in some perfectly apt way, is the perfect color for someone who identifies with and is comfortable with the energies of Trickster and Fool.
For those wondering if gray hair inevitably makes one unattractive, I've never lacked for male attention and I sincerely doubt I ever will as long as I'm interested in men.
The kinds of jobs I had in the corporate world I didn't think really worth doing, not in comparison to what I see as my "real" Work: mothering and writing, and certainly not worth giving up my identity for. I remember one boss who told me, "I think you come here just to make the rest of your life work." I said, "Why else would I be here?" (Yes, that's a risky answer, but that's the truth. And until each and every one of us can be who we really are and be frank and honest about our priorities, we're all in serious trouble.)
So to all those women who are considering whether or not to make your hair one of the same 39 shades Miss Clairoll can make, consider that the Goddess who made YOU made your hair. Maybe there's something about the color of your hair that is as uniquely YOU as the rest of you is. And maybe... just maybe... you want to think twice about whether or not you wish to be a wage-slave to a culture that would have you deny a most essential part of you. In other words, its not just your hair color you're sacrificing.
I think there's a real message for women in this act of culturally-mandated coloring of one's hair. It's one thing to color one's hair because the natural color is displeasing to one's self, I think. It's one thing to color one's hair as reflection of some personal choice one has decided to make. But to color your hair to make others believe you are something you are not is an act not only of deception but of self-deception.
And why do it? The Founding Fathers who are so much with us lately wore white wigs. There's a certain kind of power in claiming who you really are on very basic levels, and hair color is just one way of many. As the hippies sang, and Samson and indigenous practitioners of magic everywhere know, there's power in Hair.