Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Musings on Gray Hair

I saw my first gray hair on my 25th birthday. Now, 9 years later, I’m growing more aware of their expanding presence. At a glance, I don’t look like I’m graying, but take a close look, and you’ll see that those tokens of age, worry, and care are sporadically laced throughout my hair.

Last weekend I plucked out 20-30 of them. (And, don’t worry. I already checked. That old saying about “pluck out one gray hair, grow two” is just a myth.)
Why did I do it? Probably because I was needing a haircut and feeling unkempt and…well, old, I guess.

I got my haircut, and I’m feeling better. Of course, not having those gray hairs shining back at me in the mirror has probably helped too.

And that disturbs me. I actually pulled out my hairs. Where is this coming from?

My mom and dad look young for their age. Both of them are graying gracefully, and I’ve admired them for not following the trends and covering up their natural color. That decision is beginning to hit close to home. The quick-fix of plucking hairs is certainly not sustainable.

I haven’t really organized my thoughts yet, so here are a bunch of random ones.

I wear make-up. Is coloring my hair any different?

But if I color my hair, what will come next? Implants? A tuck or lift?

Can’t I find it in me to be proud of my gray hairs, those tokens of age and (hopefully) wisdom?

How can I tell my daughter that “beauty is truth and truth, beauty; and no, you don’t need a Barbi-doll figure to be beautiful and happy. Embrace yourself, the way God made you. True beauty is on the inside.”

To be consistent, though, should I trash all my cosmetics?

On the other hand, maybe I should look at coloring hair as just part of our culture. Women in cultures all over the world do things to their bodies to look “better”. We recently watched Namesake, a movie about Indian immigrants. The women paint red dots on their foreheads, in the part of their hair, on their hands and feet; they pierce their noses…I certainly don’t condemn this cultural practice.

My culture wears make-up, braziers, control-top pantyhose. We change our clothes and hair-styles to keep up with the times. People get braces and have their teeth whitened to make their smiles more attractive. All of these things seem fine and normal to me. Why do I have a hang-up about hair coloring? I guess I’m feeling the need to draw a line somewhere?

When does it make sense to artificially improve your look? When should you just accept the natural changes that come with age?

Anyone else wresting with such issues?


  1. My mom colored her hair a lot when I was growing up. One year it was blond, the next chestnut, for a short time even red. So coloring hair seems normal to me. I’ve been coloring mine for a few years now to cover some gray, but I’ve stayed close to my natural color, so only those closest to me know. I haven’t decided how long I’ll color it. Maybe I’ll never stop.
    It’s a good question about when to stop altering ourselves.

  2. Milkmaid

    March 3, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m sure familiarity has much to do with my hesitation to dye my hair. And it’s not like dying hair is irreversible, nor does it require knives and anesthesia. I’ll have more thoughts on the matter, I’m sure, especially when those offending hairs begin to grow back.

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