Thursday, April 19, 2012

Almost There: The Gray Report

My birthday is less than a month away and I think, by the time I get there, all the dyed hair will be gone. It will have taken less than six months and has been far less painful than I thought it would be, thanks to a great hairdresser and supportive friends and neighbours. I realized today, I rarely think about my hair anymore, where for the first few months, I was very aware of the changes.

However, I had a bit of a setback last month: I went to an event to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, run by my sister's charity ( and my parents and all my sibs were there. It was the first time I had seen any of them since I had my hair chopped off and I was pretty punchy on the way there.

And then, my own mother didn't recognize me. Ouch. "Did you think I was some old lady?" I asked. "No," she said. "You just didn't look like yourself." A friend later described it as a 'prophet in his own home town' kind of moment.

We had a great evening, but the reaction rankled. Afterwards, though, as I reflected on it, I realized it wasn't so much what was said as the distance between who I am and who I've been perceived to be. I feel surprisingly comfortable with this decision, but I have a fair bit of insecurity about whether others will roll with it or be taken aback, whether my decisions unnerve them or are a non-issue. It's not so much that I need bolstering, but the opposite reaction makes me quiver.

It made me think, too, about the decisions we make that are contrary to our family cultures: the women in my family go gray very early and conceal that fact. What does it mean if I swim against that tide? And why should I then expect to be recognized?

On a lighter note, I bought Lush's Daddyo shampoo: it's purpler than purple and smells of a patch of springtime. Apparently it whitens and brightens white and pale blonde hair, although if you use too much, your hair takes on a faint purple hue. So far, I'm not turning into Katy Perry. I've used it twice. But it makes me happy to smell it.

1 comment:

  1. Susan - I think gray can be very beautiful. I wish the tide went the other way. My genes are just starting to express themselves in this way and I'm not sure how I will view my own conversion to gray (fast or slow). But, in general, I think of these changes and milestones as reasons to celebrate!