That I stopped dying my hair is not news of any importance, but seeing Hilary Clinton’s soft golden hair, as she faces Barack Obama, on the front page of Ha’aretz today, I realized again, that when it comes to gray hair a rose is never just a rose. And no, this post is not about Feminism (with a capital F), although I must admit that whenever I attend any Feminist function I notice a sea of gray hair.
For as long as I can remember, my mother had beautiful gray hair, she kept it short and let it dry in the sun. For a nurse, it was a practical no-nonsense hair style, and it suited her personality. I was convinced that one day I would be just like her. But when the time came and I turned gray, one of my daughters asked me to dye my hair. I hesitated; I always considered myself a woman who accepted life changes, and imagined that I would age, if not gracefully, at least, with style.
My daughter argued that it was too early, that I was too young to be old. She even paraphrased a favorite line from The Diary of Bridget Jones in which Bridget admits that, as a student of women magazines, she knew better than to believe that we were judged by our personality.
As my daughter is the family’s fashion arbiter, I deferred my plan to grow old and seized the last days of spring by restoring my hair back to its original dark color. After all, I told myself, it was important to make my daughter proud.
But, from my experience, trying to please our loved ones hardly ever works. I knew the truth behind my gray roots, and resented the effort of hiding it from the rest of the world. Whenever I saw gray haired women I found myself complimenting them on their hair, and then explaining why it was that I had dark hair. Of course I sounded false and hypocritical. I experienced a similar unease (and even wrote a post about it), under very different, and graver, circumstances, when we lived on the green line. Then too I felt that I had to justify to the world why I lived in a town which was considered a settlement.
A psychologist might call my predicament in both cases a cognitive dissonance, but it simply translates to not being true to myself. I was lucky that, with those two different issues, I was able to remedy the situations and to live according to my beliefs again. I moved back to Tel Aviv and stopped dying my hair.
Inside I don’t feel old, not even a bit, but I wonder what other people see when a gray haired woman skate by them. This is a new thought, probably my dark hair blended better, and made me less conspicuous in the park.
My daughter told me the other day that gray hair is back, it may be true, but I like to think of it as her way of saying that she accepts my choice.
PS. Although I chose not to explore this aspect, it is interesting to note the juxtaposition of Clinton's golden hair and Obama's "distinguished looking" gray hair.
And one more thing, several friends commented that hair color is a matter of personal choice. I agree, and hope that it was clear that, like always, I was only talking about myself.