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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Column: Writing on the Wall
The anatomy of gray
Hair today ...
Penny Frondelli/Herald
Mary Malloy

Throughout our lives, along with our major life choices, most of us make smaller changes along the way — our clothes, our choice of drink ( say, from a shot of Southern Comfort to an apple-pear cardboard juice box). Yum. We change our music preferences (somewhat), start eating cauliflower and tofu, and even use sunscreen with an SPF of 1000. We check for moles, lumps, bumps, holes and strange fleshy growths they call “skin tags.” Hair grows out of places that we never even imagined. Knees creak, muscles weaken, and yet we think, we hope, we’re aging gracefully — until, that is, we catch our reflections in the mirror and wonder, “how did I turn into my mother or, gasp, my grandmother?”

If you know me at all (and if you’ve read my “reveal” columns for the last few years, you probably do) you know that I always go back to the basics. I experienced natural childbirth four times, and breastfed all four of my children for different lengths of time — often to the disapproval of the elite know-it-alls whose children, by the way, didn’t turn out any better than mine. So there. And you know that I publicly talk about my trials and tribulations without any shame, or rather, I share my shame and wear my heart on my sleeve.
So how is it being gray? First, I’m lucky in that it’s a lovely shade — still blondish, in a platinum, lively kind of way. Do I feel older? On the contrary, it makes me feel sassy and strangely rebellious. Maybe because, as a former middle-of-the-road hippie, I am bucking the system and saying no Lady Clairol.
I got more comments about the column where I revealed I was going to go gray (“Forget 50 — I’m just looking for one good shade of gray”) than any other I’ve written. Why is that? I don’t think I’m that fascinating (well, I do, but I don’t think others do). People seemed to identify, or sympathize, and root (no pun intended) for me. Some friends told me they were doing the same thing. Others said, “What, are you crazy?” Either way, you responded and reacted.
If we allow it, and we often do, our hair color, our weight, our height and our physical appearance can run our lives in a negative way. We are a very visual breed, we humans, and we’re very hard on ourselves as well. What we do to our bodies — our hair color, makeup, tattoos, adornments, are often an outer expression of an inner personality. Some things we can change, other things we can’t. Well, after 42 years of dying 50 shades of blonde, I’m staying gray for a while – at least until my first tattoo.

See: Forget 50 - I'm just looking for one good shade of gray

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