Thursday, December 1, 2011

First World Problem

Do you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Great Oz is revealed to be a small, ordinary man operating illusion from behind a curtain?

I feel more than a bit like that with this blog post.

Despite the fact that I have chestnut brown hair, I come from a line of prematurely gray women. The brown is the illusion - created every three weeks with products that are among few chemicals I use. My lawn is drug-free; I use Norwex cloths instead of cleaning products; the most potent drug I take is Advil. And yet, every few weeks, I douse my scalp with hair dye.

I had come to terms with this, as my mom and grandmother did before me.

But two weeks ago, I read an article about a UK woman in a coma after a reaction to hair dye. I only do the recommended skin allergy test the first time I use a new product, and not always then. This story frightened me because apparently the woman had used the same product for years, and the reaction came as a result of an accumulation of the chemicals in her system. She is not expected to live. The chemicals that cause the problem are so toxic they are not permitted in skin products, and are prevalent in dark hair colouring.

Like chestnut.

Five years ago, I let the gray grow in and had gold highlights added too. I wasn't that keen. We look back at the photos now -- and think it was aging.

But, we are all aging. And maybe this is what 42 and a half looks like.

My mother doesn't think this is the best idea. She cites a friend whose return to dyed hair "took ten or fifteen years off her." My reply is that I'd rather hair dye didn't take ten or fifteen years off my life expectancy.

When ethics and aesthetics clash -- I wonder who will win. I wonder too, if I undertake the Brave Gray Experiment and then return to brown, will people treat me differently? Can the Great Oz ever be what he was once he is revealed for who he really is?

These are, as the title indicates, first world problems. I'd rather we all donated our energy and funds to helping the Attiwapiskat community, but as I look at the tinsel on the tree this Christmas, I'm going to be wondering about the beauty of silver streaks.


  1. It may sound funny to you but I am actually going through the same debate right now. At the age of 29 I have more than a few "silver" hairs popping into view every day. I really don't want to start to dye my hair because I don't like the chemicals and I think it is a lot of money for something that should be natural. However, I am concerned that because dyed hair is the norm I will be seen as 1. cheap 2. someone who doesn't care about her apearance.

    Such a tricky problem for something that really shouldn't be a problem at all.

  2. Sue - Shall we start a new trend?