Why white? Some of you who know me and haven’t seen me for a long time are shocked that my hair has turned white and want to know why. Because that’s what time does to it. No, that’s not the reason. It was deliberate.
I have covered the gray since my twenties, so long, in fact, that I wasn’t sure what color it really was. Since then, I have been light brown, dark brown, auburn and “red as a stop sign,” according to my daughter. If I figure out how to put pictures in here it might be amusing for you to see a slide show of all these looks.
Even though the color was convincing, part of me has always felt annoyed with the coloring process and deceptive with the result. The Bible has only good things to say about those with “hoary heads” and nothing good to say (nothing at all to say) about people with dyed heads. I thought if I stopped coloring mine, I might give courage to other women who want to go natural but didn’t want to be the exception. I also knew ingredients in most hair colors is bad for you. And, I felt uncomfortable with the idea of standing before God someday and explaining that I couldn’t spare $200 a year to help keep babies alive in Somalia because I had spent it trying not to look my age. I struggled for years against taking that first step, even though I knew the bottom line in not doing so was, plain and simple, vanity.
My grandmother’s hair went a beautiful white, like a fine, fly-away halo about her face. My mother’s hair went a beautiful white as she went about doing good. Jerry told me his mother’s hair went white after an accident in her twenties and was white the whole time he knew her. When we married he told me he didn’t mind if I wanted to let my hair go its natural color. I thought, since we like to wear matching colors, it might be fun to have our hair match, too.
I hated my hair as a child. My mother had it chopped short when I was eight or nine because I used to pull strands of it into my mouth and chew on it. So I always felt short hair was a punishment and as soon as I was out on my own I let it grow. As an adult when I thought of going gray I knew I would have to give up having long hair. In my opinion, very few women look good in long hair that’s gray. And the apostle Paul (if not Jesus) said a woman’s hair should be long.
Dyed hair breaks off when it gets long. At least mine did. So it looked straggly. I finally had it long enough to donate 12 inches to Locks of Love and the lady who cut it off for me (Lorree at Sunshine’s) did such a marvelous job I got more compliments about my new style than I ever had in my life.
I remembered being advised, if I wanted to let it grow out au naturel, to start with it very short and since now it was very short, I thought, This is the time. I told a friend, “I’m going to go gray. The die is cast.” We stared at each other for a split second and then burst out laughing. She said dryly what we were both thinking. “Apparently the dye is not cast!”
One of my fears had been having to live for months with that line of demarcation that looks so terrible as it grows out. I stopped using shampoos for color-treated hair and used those that would strip the color the fastest. They softened the brown to butterscotch. Since my hair was layered now, it actually looked as if I’d paid to have caramel-colored highlights and I got more compliments.
When it was finally white (I am still startled when I glance in a mirror) I kept getting compliments. My tendency when I get any compliment is to 1) forget it as fast as possible, 2) immediately forsake, change or distort whatever I have done to draw positive attention. (Don’t ask me why; I need to look at that behavior Theophostically one of these days.)
Jerry likes it. To be honest, I kind of like it myself, even if the back of my head does feel like the rear end of a guinea pig.
But that doesn’t mean when I sit behind a younger woman in church with long flowing hair, I don’t think I did something stupid.