Ruminations: Growing Gray

When I was about 55, I hatched a plan for my mane to be completely white at age 60. This insight was based (falsely but hopefully) on the knowledge that my paternal grandmother had gorgeous white hair in her 30’s.  My mothers side sprouted a great deal of salt and pepper. I was betting the farm on Grandma Needles’ genes, but alas, this hope did not pan out. Instead, I continued to battle the grays and go for the low-light dye job every other month or so. That is, until this past January. At that time, my stylist had to stop working due to health issues, so I sought out a new venue for hair. Welcome in Piper! She honored my curiosity to try highlights. As I watched myself grow lighter and blonder, I began to wonder if the time to grow gray gracefully was nearing. This past August, Piper and I decided that the highlights could take a back seat and I could try to let my natural tones show through.

Today I had my first haircut without adding any color or highlights. I love what I see! My skin tones line up with the color and I feel like, at 62 and a half, I am at the right time and place for growing gray gracefully.

More importantly, I feel comfortable in my skin. I admit that sometimes, I see a picture of myself, or take a hard look in the mirror, and I wonder, who is that old person? This realization is hard on my ego, admittedly. We live in a society that is youth oriented. While we have pushed the boundaries of aging in many ways, the reality continues to favor the young market. If you don’t believe this, ponder the costume-y fashions sold by the majority of the well established fashion houses, such as Gucci and Vuitton.  These are not clothes that most women of my demographic would jump into with any sense of ease. They are not the only fashion houses and companies to latch onto fashion as costume. We as women consumers, generally more active in the world and in better shape than our mothers at this same age, can push the comfort boundaries and make oursleves look young and hip. But who is offering the looks that are not frumpy and honor our desires to just be us in the skin and bodies we have right now?

Cosmetic companies pander to the skin care concerns of the aging consumer, but this comes at a high price. The odd thing is that these products are often promoted to the younger customer, who really has no need of them. Sephora and Ulta thrive on the hip and hot colors and formulations that flatter the 20 and 30 somethings. I love a great burgundy eye shadow and a bit of sparkle, but there is a gap between boring nude for elders and uber disco sparkle. I live in that gap.

Rarely though, do we see women who are in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s promoting beauty and fashion. A bit of a breakthrough is occurring but quite honestly, I see more progress with normal size models than I do with older models.

Here’s the deal: I will continue to forge ahead, owning my maturing bones, flesh and features while dressing them up as I please. The young may own the majority of the market interest. But watch out, young ones, the Baby Boomers are still driving the bus…

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I am a fabric artist and a professional minister in the Catholic Church. I am married for 40+ years to a most fabulous man. We have 4 adult children, 2 daughter-in-laws ( who we also consider to our children!) and 4 grandbabies. I love to weave, paint silk, sew and design garments for myself; bead, read, write and color. I am also a spiritual Companion/Director and have a special place in my soul for women who are healing and in need of healing from trauma and abuse. I love coffee, quiet reflective prayer time at my kitchen table and long walks to breathe in the Holy Spirit. I would like to learn how to spin yarn and will someday create a spun, hand dyed/painted, beaded, woven fabulous garment of peace!

6 thoughts on “Ruminations: Growing Gray

  1. I love this article for the wry humour and sheer truth of it. I’ve rarely coloured my hair and began to go grey in my 30’s. I’ve become accustomed to having slivers of silver mingling with the mousy-golden blonde that was there before. And others seem to like my natural look as well. Though I had hoped to emulate my father and have a snowy-white thatch instead. My mother surprisingly kept her dark locks right to the end. Here’s to grey! It suits you, Nancie! One perk is that we can wear vibrant colours with ease because they go well with silvery tresses. As for clothes, I’ve shrunk a bit over the last few years and find myself ordering teenage sizes of casual basics because they often fit me better. Don’t worry, you won’t see me wearing a teenage attitude or in a hoodie any day soon! xo ❤

  2. Love the hair! We are the same age and I decided long ago not to color my hair. It is “rose blonde” and the white is just kind of lightening everything up but I welcome white hair. My mom’s was beautiful, but it was a painful process (physically and emotionally) getting there for her. She was forced to give up hair dye when she developed a serious allergic reaction. I think it is sad that the world cannot see beauty in every stage of life. Growing older is not something to cure, fix or try to prevent. It is something to celebrate.

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