Saturday, March 5, 2016

My Shade of Gray: A Hairy Transformation #SOL16 Day 5

Thanks for joining me for the
#SOL16 Story Challenge, and
thank you, Stacey and the team
at Two Writing Teachers.
'Preciate you

After three years contemplating going natural, one year ago this month I said "I DO"--I do vow to let my hair go gray. I do promise to just say "NO" to the rainbow of hues my cosmetologist  since 1989 has been dabbing on my locks. 

My journey to gray began 35 years ago when I plucked the first silvery thread from my head during my first year teaching.  Symbolically I had crossed the threshold from adolescence to adulthood, from co-ed, to colleague. Game on, Gray! From the moment I slayed that first gray strand, I waged a war on gray. Not only would I not embrace the fifty shades of gray, but I would banish all gray tones from my pate. 

At first, plucking random strands that periodically peeked into my mirror worked to keep the gray at bay, but around 1990 I had to find a new strategy, one that led me to the bottle of dye and began my monthly liaison with Kaylene. Together we waged a hairy war, and soon I no longer knew the color of my own hair. "I thought you were a red-head when I met you," my husband said when I read the first draft of this post to him. 

When I made the final decision to go gray, Kaylene and I strategized and birthed a plan that made the transformation less obvious. I began the change last March. 
With my colleague and friend Debbie Greco at
my school, April 2015

At first, no one noticed, but when I returned to school after summer break, I saw the sideways glances of some of my colleagues. They thought I'd jumped the shark. My hair, last September, looked blonde--platinum blonde. "Did Glenda bleach her hair? Is she trying to look like a teenager?" The psst, psst, pssting persisted, but in time I found ways to tell people that I'm embracing my shade of gray. 

My sister Gaylene and me in our
younger, blonder years.
When I started growing gray, I worried that my hair would look mousey and dull. It was brown when I was a teen and young adult. It began growing and forming silvery highlights that blended with my faux color; I was shocked to see a color that resembled that of my toddler years. "What am I, five again? " I asked rhetorically in a FB status update picturing my new look. 

I also wondered if my friends would recognize me at NCTE last November; those fears proved in vain. 

Fortunately, my gray hair seems to be garnering approval from many students, and the timing for this change is right as gray is the color du jour right now. But the transition has not been easy. It has taken a year, and I still see traces of yellow from the last highlighting Kaylene applied to help transition the color from what it was to what it is. 


Friends at the Nerdy Party at NCTE 15: Dana Huff, me,
Jen Ansbach, Sarah Mullen-Gross
A few days ago a senior boy gave my hair the seal of approval when he said, "I like your gray hair better than the colors in those pictures on the wall. It suits you." What other approval do I need? 

Teenagers--especially ninth grade boys--often have a sense of honesty that leads them to say things such as "I don't really like your hair" when their female teachers appear with a new hair color or style. At these times I get a little snarky and say, "Well, it's a good thing I'm not participating in the beauty contest today." 

My hubby Ken and me at the Neon Museum in
Las Vegas, December, 2015.
A couple of days ago I complimented a student on her ombre blue curls. "Look, they match my glasses," I said. 

"You should color your hair blue," the young lady advised. 

"Actually, I've been thinking about pink and purple," I said. Seriously, I have a Pintrest board featuring a rainbow of shades of gray, from pink to purple to passion fruit. I like color in all its tints and tinctures. 

Bot for a quarter century I've denied my true hair color. I've hid behind a palate,  for now, I'm embracing my shade of gray. 

*Dedication: For Dana Huff whose lovely locks inspired me to be bold and brave and embrace going gray. Thanks, Dana! 


10 comments:

  1. When I started finding more gray hair than I could pluck, I told my beautician that I didn't want anyone to know I was coloring---and most people didn't. But I've been thinking about letting go of that color process. I'm not quite ready yet, but soon...

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  2. I never dyed my hair. I've been going grey for over two decades and I'm still salt & pepper. A few years ago, sitting in the chair at the hairdresser's someone asked if my hair was natural or highlighted. I replied natural and she said simply, "You are so lucky!". I sat a little taller in the chair.

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  3. I hope that I will have enough courage and chutzpah to embrace my gray when it comes. Right now I just get highlights to cover a few grays. But they are coming and I think your hair looks fabulous!

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  4. I hope that I will have enough courage and chutzpah to embrace my gray when it comes. Right now I just get highlights to cover a few grays. But they are coming and I think your hair looks fabulous!

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  5. Oh gosh. You are so very brave! I tried to embrace the gray, but when that salt is about an inch, I chicken out. Maybe it's time to take try again. Thanks for being brave and sharing your journey!

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  6. I let mine go all natural finally, too. It is white...just like my grandma's, my aunts' and my mom's. It feels right, and I have had more compliments on my white hair than on my colored hair (well, one time when I accidentally colored it much darker, everyone said it made me look younger- I doubt that hair color would accomplish that now!)

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  7. Amazingly my latest piece of creative writing is also on this very topic which I have just posted on my blog - what a coincidence and I'm with you on being natural - I can't be bothered with colouring every other week and I'm not going to start now! Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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  8. Now I'm going to have to write about my hair, too! Thanks for the shout out. I love your hair, Glenda. It really does look beautiful!

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  9. That is a lovely shade of grey...my hairstylist says it's time to think of covering up my ever increasing grey...but I kind of feel that I've earned the right to this new shade of hair!

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  10. That is a lovely shade of grey...my hairstylist says it's time to think of covering up my ever increasing grey...but I kind of feel that I've earned the right to this new shade of hair!

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