Hair and Aging

I’ve been thinking about hair. I mean, what woman hasn’t spent hours (if not years) of her life thinking about hair? I know they’re out there, but in my experience most of us spend a total of too much time thinking about, worrying about, fussing over and fixing our hair. Is it stylish? Is it old? Is it too young for me? We shampoo, highlight, low-light, curl, straighten, cut, stop cutting, brush, pin and despair. Sometimes we triumph, but far too often we look at hair, and by extension ourselves, with an overly critical eye. Culturally, midlife women are encouraged to cover their gray hair as one of many strategies required to maintain the fiction of youth, to avoid looking like we’ve “given up”.

Or is it? A few years ago I began to see young women sporting #grannyhair. Older women wrote about letting their hair go gray (even if some did spend just as much at the salon to get “good” gray hair). I felt as if a small but significant revolution was happening. I joined it, and stopped coloring my hair three years ago, writing that I was in “the process of beginning to look more like my real self. Stepping off the treadmill of faking it and onto the path of acknowledging and accepting who I really am today. Not giving up but hopefully walking a path to a healthier self-image and a more balanced approach to the rest of my life.”

Today, everywhere I go, I see beautiful women with untinted hair, quietly abandoning their dye habit. The revolution has grown. Maybe they’re not writing about it in the newspaper or on social media but they certainly are talking about it in the office restrooms. We talk about how freeing it is to step off that treadmill, to embrace our age, appearance and authenticity. Not giving up, but letting go of unreasonable expectations of youthful beauty and embracing our maturity, experience, and yes – the beauty of our age.

“I am appalled that the term we use to talk about aging is ‘anti’. Aging is human evolution in its pure form. … We are ALL going to age and soften and mellow and transition.” ~Jamie Lee Curtis

Today my hair is 100% my own color, and I’ve taken back an extra 30 minutes a day by giving up the flat iron (another story). Somewhat unruly, semi-gray, longish curly hair on a 55 year old woman is not standard in my office, but it’s me. It’s part of the process of growing older, better, that I want to talk about in the coming months. I hope you’ll join me.

(Bad Hair Day by Bjerke CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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