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A Mom’s Gray Matter

It all started while I was watching a makeover on daytime TV.

A timid woman in her forties stood in the shadow of a confident makeover consultant and was told that the first thing they needed to do was color her (graying) hair.

Did I mention that the makeover consultant was a gray-haired balding man?

“That’s not fair!” I wanted to shout out to everyone in the room.

But there was only me and my baby at my breast and he wasn’t about to join in the discussion on why gray hair was perceived as an asset women should lose, even though nature had deemed it gender neutral.

I kept quiet and watched the timid woman transform into a timid woman with newly colored hair.

That was seven years ago, when I had one or two gray hairs. Since then I have come to understand what going gray means for me.

Today I am a mom of three in my forties. I spend most of my time working at home or running after my kids – no glam required in my regular day!

If I was offered a makeover I’d say, “Bring it on!” I’d love a revamp of my wardrobe, some new shoes and makeup.

I’d also say “You can’t color my hair. My natural gray highlights need to stay.”

And then, probably, no-one would be interested. What would that be called, half a makeover?

The truth is I think lots of women do look fabulous with colored/highlighted/tinted hair. But I have always had healthy, shiny hair and I have never felt the desire to tinker with it.

Since I was a teenager, I have engaged in the art of female grooming. Without obsessing over a healthy lifestyle, make-up, nice clothes or hair removal, I certainly use all of these to highlight my sense of woman and to make me feel happy with the way I look.

With the years, my “beauty routine” has changed very little. At the same time, I have also accepted the progress of time. I don’t need to seek what made me feel beautiful in my twenties to make me feel beautiful today. So, just as I don’t try and dress as I did a few decades ago, I have learned to accept that my hair will not always be the same shiny brown color I grew up with.

Just because I'm older, must I add a whole additional time consuming activity to my diary – that of coloring my hair? Must I chase my roots until the end of (my) time? I want to embrace my gray hair. I want to feel wonderful and sexy with it. I want to be able to look in the mirror and have my gray hair remind me that I am wiser, more experienced, and more grateful to be the woman I am.

I have read that in the fashion capitals of the world, gray silver locks are the new chic. But where I live, my gray highlights define me as very distant from the norm. I’ve surveyed women around my city; the moms at the school, kindergarten and preschool gates; and all the women in my family. I see women without makeup. I see women running around in their sweatpants, baggy tops and comfortable shoes, but I almost never see a woman under 80 with gray hair.

Currently, my gray hair is not noticeable from far away. But when people come up close, they see the gentle highlights. And I am starting to receive certain disbelieving and disapproving looks.

Sometimes, I wish I could wear a sign that says “Yes, I am aware of my gray hair and no, I don’t want to hide it.”

Soon my kids will become aware that I am (possibly) the only gray mom in the neighborhood. Should I start calling myself The Silver Mom now? Perhaps then I could make it into a cool brand for them!

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