I am a woman of a certain age.
As a woman of a certain age, I am plagued with gray hair. Actually, the hairs I speak of are not really gray. That is a misconception. They are actually white. As white as the loathsome snow falling from the drab, depressing Minneapolis sky this afternoon.
Absent of all color, these hairs glow. Seriously. They glow.
And, while the rest of the hair sprouting from my head is relatively straight, these rogue white hairs grow in perfect curlicues that rival any hairdo Shirley Temple ever sported. They like to gather right above my ears and curl away from my head, giving me the appearance of a Hasidic Jew with traditional Peyot (yes, those curls have a name). My Peyot are not religious in nature. Nor are they a particularly attractive look for a forty-one year old pasty Midwestern lesbian.
So what do I do about it?
I color my hair. I color the hell out of my hair. Just last night, I spent three hours in a salon chair getting an all-over color, a partial foil, and something called a paint-between. It was quite the elaborate spectacle, but I was thrilled with the results. I washed that gray (incandescent white) right outta my hair!
So this evening, I am walking around Target—totally rocking my new blondish-brownish-reddish-not so ashy-and definitely not white well-blended foils—and notice several lesbian couples out shopping, as well. Because, as everyone knows, Target is a bastion of seething lesbianism. And I notice that almost every woman I see—strangely, they are all forty-somethings like me—has gray hair. Maybe not completely gray, but obviously un-colored. This got me thinking…
Why do lesbians not color their hair?
I would venture a guess that, compared to the female population at large, lesbians are less likely to dye their hair. Someone should do a study. A double-blind study aimed at proving or disproving my hypothesis. Sounds like an incredibly shrewd use of our tax dollars, don’t you think?
As I sit here thinking about my own group of friends and acquaintances, I have come to the stunning realization that the majority of them do not dye their hair. When we get together, there is an awful lot of radiant white peeking out from those perfectly coiffed flat tops.
So why is this? What is the purpose of allowing one’s hair to go gray gracefully? What does this say about the lesbian community? And, more importantly, what the hell does this say about me?
Am I shallow?
Am I vain?
Am I desperately clinging to any tiny semblance of my misspent youth that I can get my arthritic fingers wrapped around?
Bloody hell! Am I straight?!?
My partner, Ruanita, refuses to color her hair. Though she is 8 ½ years older than me, she has a LOT less gray hair than me—a fact that flings me headfirst into a deep crater of depression if I allow myself to dwell on it. Genetics are a bitch, huh?
I like to think that I am gray because I live with her and she is not gray because she lives with me, but Ruanita would probably disagree. And likely curse at me profusely.
When I ask her about coloring her hair, she simply replies, “I don’t want to.” She likes her gray hair. She feels like she earned every hard-won gray hair on her head. She wears them—the few of them that are there—as a badge of honor. A testament to her life experience. An outward symbol of her hard-earned wisdom and no-nonsense gumption.
I, on the other hand, like pretty colors.
(Fuck. I am shallow.)
I like when my hair is blondish-brownish-reddish-not so ashy-and definitely not white. It makes me feel good about myself. I feel more confident when I feel less old and frumpy. And confidence is a good thing, right?
Perhaps I am in denial about my age. Perhaps I am too invested in my personal appearance. (Of course, if this were true, logic would dictate that I would get my ass off the couch, lose some weight, and maybe shave my Yeti-like legs on occasion.) Perhaps I need to just let myself go gray gracefully and work on my more pressing psychological issues instead.
I don’t know.
But I find the whole gray lesbian phenomenon fascinating.
What about you?