Someday I’ll Surrender to Grey, by Georgia Garvey

I had my first gray hair at 16.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected. My father – who also turned gray prematurely – had dyed his hair since I was a child.

Even so, it made me nervous to find that silver streak, to see decades of hair dye in my future, stretching out in expensive salon appointments as far as the eye could see.

I decided, at first, to treat it as a pleasure. I dyed my hair in shades of red, brown, black and blonde. Sometimes I had highlights, other times none. Experimentation was a game, and for most of my teens and 20s, I enjoyed it.

I didn’t mind if someone found out I had gray hair because I knew, and I knew they also knew, that no matter how much gray hair I had, I was young. Also, I was dyeing my hair, so no one knew unless I told them.

“Why don’t you let it grow?” my husband asked when we started dating. “That might look cool.”

I laughed, sure he didn’t want to date a woman who looked 20 years older than her, any more than I wanted to be.

As I got older, however, things changed.

It wasn’t so funny knowing that, without being worried, my hair would make me look older than I was. Eventually I reached the age where my contemporaries started going gray too, and the advanced stage of my gray hair made me feel less unique and more frumpy.

Dyeing my hair has become more of a chore too.

Even a few weeks after a hair salon appointment, I can see grays appearing in my hairline. In a month or two, the full state of affairs is clear.

I started thinking more about my dad, who at 70 still dyes his hair jet black, covering his white mustache hairs as well. He even used to dye the hair on his arms and chest, and I remember him sitting in the dye, waiting for it to dry and wondering why he cared.

“Don’t you think you look better with gray hair?” I asked him once.

“No,” he said. “I think I would look old.”

Now that I’m firmly in my fifties, I understand the fear, the worry that drives you to try to stop the decline of youth.

It’s not that you won’t be beautiful. It’s that you won’t be beautiful in the same way. And the way you used to look beautiful – the unlined, un-old, un-grayed way – is the desirable, sexy way.

With advancing age comes a degree of invisibility, and for those who have spent so many years being seen, it can be like a drug. It can be hard to kick.

I’ve never been a model, never the most beautiful woman in the room, but when you’re young, you’re beautiful whether you know it or not. Sometimes you find beauty in a way that others recognize, by wearing the “right” clothes and makeup, by doing your hair the “right” way. Especially for women, it can take an extraordinary amount of effort.

At some point, however, everyone must decide if they want to continue the fight. How long and how much do we want to fight against the invincible enemy?

I looked at my hair recently and considered surrendering.

Would it be so horrible to look old? Would it be okay – maybe even good – to see if there is beauty to be discovered on the hill?

I have an appointment with my hairdresser coming up, and I’m planning what to say.

In the past, it was about hiding. Cover.

This time I would like to find a way to be beautiful, only with grey hair.

To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit GeorgiaGarvey.com.

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

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