The first time I saw a gray hair on my head I was probably in my early twenties. I noticed it, felt a slight panic and then plucked it right out of my skull. Bam. Just like that. I knew it would be an uphill battle from there on out. My Dad was more salt then pepper when I graduated high school. Now, he is white headed. According to him, my Mema was white before she was twenty five. My oldest uncle was white headed by thirty and my younger uncle on the other hand, well, he’s still milking the salt and pepper for all it’s worth.
Hair is such a delicate thing, isn’t it? And it is a “thing.” A few years ago, my hair was probably down past my bra. The longest it had been since I was in grade school. The weekend before Halloween, I drove to Nashville and told my brother to chop it off. He gladly hacked off 8″. That was a tough one. I had cutter’s remorse like never before. Even when I was in high school and I cut ALL my hair off into a short pixie, I didn’t feel what I felt then. Damnit, I had become attached to my long hair.
For the past ten years or more, my brother has been my stylist. I was with him during the horrific cuts of hair school (reversed mullets, platinum white bangs anyone?) and the amazing colors that have graced my locks since then (caramel, blonde, red, hot pink). A few months ago, I sat in his chair, facing the mirror and said, “I can’t keep fighting the gray Joe, I can’t. There’s too much.” I buried my face in my hands while mentally telling myself not to have a breakdown. Look, turning thirty five was a big pill for me to swallow this year. It has been, for me, a very raw number which carried quite a bit of weight behind it for various reasons.
“Let it go sister,” he said to me, hands on my shoulders.
I looked up. “Are you on drugs? I can’t do that. C’mon… make me blonde again! Pink? How about that red color we did like five years ago?”
“No. No more hair color. Embrace this silver. Do you know how many women come in here asking for gray?”
I shook my head no.
So, with a deep sigh, I walked out with a small trim. No hair color. It’s been months now and when I saw him last, he seemed very excited about how white my temples are. I’m still on the fence about it, I won’t lie. It’s a tough thing to embrace gray. To let go of my dark brown hair. In a way, it feels like I’m letting go of my youth. To know that when I wear my hair up, it’s so obvious what is going on. To be honest, there are days when my hair makes me feel unpolished, no matter how big my smile is. This is one of those life moments where I should be all, “I don’t care what you think!” But… I do. It’s ridiculous to even think that way. But, when coworkers point out that my hair is shimmering in the sun. When people in a coffee shop will ask how old I really am. When others ask when I’ll dye my hair back. When some point. When some say mean things. Those are the tough days.
There are really great days where I adore the gray. Don’t get me wrong! Those whitening temples and swirls of pale gleaming at my hairline make me feel… well, like me. Artsy, clever, fun loving, FREE. They remind me of how great my Mema and Papa are. How awesome my Dad and Uncles are with their white hair. It’s a family thing. A Miller thing. That makes me feel proud- to know I was graced with the silver fox gene. However, there are days where I just want to run to CVS, buy three boxes of color and go at it. And In case you were wondering, YES, doing that infuriates my brother. To the point where he once threatened to shave my head if I ever used box color again.
So, when I start to feel panicky about the ever changing color of my hair, I take to looking at photos of women my age with graying locks. It’s sort of empowering, enlightening and yes, still terrifying. Stay with me on this one guys, I have a feeling it’ll all turn out alright.
It has to.
My stylist said it would look gorgeous and I love him dearly.