Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gray Matters

This will be a post with no images.  When I went to shoot the mini quilt I worked on over the weekend , the apron I sewed from a pattern in the current Stitch magazine (I adore that 'zine.  It is a must if you are or dream of being a seamstress of any kind) and the fun, funky fabric I found at JoAnne's yesterday , my camera informed me it's battery was "exhausted". (Who isn't these days! Suck it up, my friend!) Anyway my poor little camera has, alas...no juice.  Sorry, I guess I really should pay more attention to that flashing red thingy. Oh well, I guess you will just have to tune in next week to see all the goodies.
This leaves me staring at a blank screen wondering what on earth I have to say that might be interesting enough not to need photos.  Tick, tick, tick, tick...
Let me start by telling you that yesterday I got another compliment on my hair.  I say "another" because I get A LOT of compliments on my hair.  I have had both women and men cross a crowed room or busy street to tell me they love my hair.  I had one woman actually reach out and run her fingers through it while telling me it looked like mink. I admit, it was a little disconcerting as those passing by turned to stare, but she meant well.  Now, I don't mention this to be stuck up.  I mention it because the reason for it all is simply fascinating to me.  You see, my hair is gray; no highlights or color of any kind and that single fact is the cause of all the hubbub.
I have let my hair go natural for about 4 years now and my decision to be gray was a very conscious one.  I came from a family that grays early.  In fact, I got my first gray hair before my 23rd birthday.  An exaggeration, you say?  Not possible?  Believe me, it is true.  A girl does not forget a thing like that.  It is one of those memories that burns into your brain, like where you were during 9/11 or when you found out about the Kennedy assassination.
Anyway, when I saw that gray hair, I made the universal choice of reaching for the dye bottle. I never even gave it a second thought.  I spent the next 26 years dousing my hair with some form of artificial color. However, once I hit my mid forties, I began to redefine who I was.  I can't explain it exactly.  I can only say I felt more adult.  Suddenly, it just didn't make sense that in order to be beautiful, I had to put something artificial in or on my body.  So one day, I woke up and told Matt that I was done highlighting my hair.  You know what he said?  "Good, I never thought you needed it anyway.?"  Have I mentioned lately what a keeper he is?
The choice was easy but the transformation from color to natural was not without it's bumps.  I do admit to moments of insecurity; wondering if I would end up looking frumpy.  Four years later I can honestly say, I will NEVER go back.  In fact, my hair has become my signature. 
Going back to the reactions I get, I am constantly amazed at how strong people's positive reactions are.  In all the years I colored my hair, I never had a man cross the room specifically to tell me they like my hair color, yet this has happened to me several times since I have gone gray.
This has brought me to a couple of conclusions.  First, it is the women in the world who define the current opinion of beauty.  It is the women who have decided that beauty is defined by fake hair, swollen lips and implants.  We all blame the men, but truthfully, if women as a whole rejected today's artificial definition of beauty and began to confidently own their own natural beauty, we would see a massive shift in the view point of the men in the world.  I have lived in a household of men all my adult life.  It has been a true eye-opener as to what decent men really want in a woman. That, however will have to keep for another posting.
Second, confidence is the true fountain of youth. It is also a magnet that people are irresistibly drawn to.  I'm not talking about the arrogance or conceit that passes for confidence today.  I am talking about feeling comfortable in your skin.
Now, I am not espousing that we all throw out our make-up, razors and blow-dryers.  I am not that radical.  But I am suggesting that you trust how naturally beautiful you are and find one artificial thing that you do and stop.  Just let it go.  Who knows, it may end up defining you the way my hair has helped me define myself.  Can I get an Amen?