A post by my good friend Judith Gray:
This past year I became a grandmother, went on Medicare, started playing more pickleball than tennis, joined a gym, and stopped coloring my hair. Of all these, the hair is the least important but the most physically obvious and, in my peer group, the most unusual.
I had made some prior attempts but kept going back to coloring (which I did at home; I rank low on the level of hair fussiness).The first excuse was that I wanted to look good for my kids’ wedding pictures, and it was bad enough that one of my eyelids had started drooping and brown spots were multiplying on my hands. After that it was mostly wanting to look young and following the crowd…none of my friends had gray hair, and even my sister, ten years older than I, was dyeing her hair.
But then two people inspired me, my niece and Janet Yellin. My niece, ten years younger than I, and a recent gym convert, said, ‘If you look buff, people won’t notice the gray hair.”
She’s attractive and glows with fitness and recently went gray. Janet Yellin is the smart, no-nonsense chair of the Federal Reserve. I like hearing what she has to say, without any glamorous or pretentious distractions. Finally, a gray-haired woman with a grandmotherly face appears on the tv news, and the investment world clings to every word.
It took me a few weeks to get used to the new look; I was a bit surprised every time I looked in the mirror, not really sure I liked what I saw. I get a variety of comments and puzzled looks…”Did you get a new haircut?” ask those I haven’t seen in a while. “I’m jealous,” comment women who have misgivings about the whole ordeal but not ready to go natural. “I like your hair,” say kindred grays welcoming me to the club.
I feel liberated, freed from the coloring process and the pull of looking younger. I’m happy with who I am and how I look and delighted with new babies who will call me Gram into my gray-haired old age.
Judith Gray is a mostly retired reference librarian who lives in Bedford Mass. with her husband Ed. She is a fan of all kinds of exercise, especially pickleball! She enjoys reading, travelling, memoir writing, and visiting her children and grandchildren in CT and NY.
Photo Above: Judith, with her new hair color, hugs her grandson Hudson.
Photo Below: Judith and Ed “already gray” Gray at their daughter’s wedding, 2010.
18 thoughts on “Gray on Gray”
Thanks, Judith. I have contemplated the same as you (and I’m with you on no-hair fussiness) but was wondering how you dealt with the growing out period. Care to share that?
Even when I was coloring my hair, it kept getting lighter and lighter (harder to hide the gray I guess) so the roots were not that dramatic for me. I did go through a period of starting to grow it out and not being able to stand the transition though and reverting to coloring; I just had to make up my mind that I was going to go gray.
I have never dyed my hair (to my daughter’s dismay!). I have several friends that have gone gray and I think it looks great. I can sense the liberation! We all need to embrace the changes of this new phase of life! What a nice story to share. Thank you!
I think your hair looks great and agree about Janet Yellin. I wrote the other pro gray guest blog and have since let my hair grow to shoulder length. Men have stopped me at Home Depot to tell me they like my hair! Crazy.
Here’s that post!
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Hi, Barbara, Happy Fall!
Just reread your post…what a great sense of humor…I love it! Beautiful picture of you, too,
must be even more gorgeous with the shoulder length!
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Thank you, Judith. No one ever noticed my hair until I let it go grey! It makes me laugh to think how much money I could have saved. Hindsight, sigh.
Thanks so much, Judith. I’m with you on this. I stopped coloring because I wanted to eliminate the chemicals that might be seeping into my gray matter! I needed my brain power.
I look at earlier pics of myself – some are still there as my profile pics on various sites – and I get nostalgic. Sometimes I resist I my gray look. But other times I get this great sense that it provides a wise and nurturing look. With 11 grandchildren I need that!
It was good for me to hear your journey.
Wow. Eleven grandchildren! That’s some number. Exciting!
Judith, you are gorgeous with whatever hair color. Lots of luck with the new grandchild.
I had highlighted my brown hair with blonde highlights most of my adult life. “Make me blonde” was my “mantra”! I would leave my hair stylist, happy to be a “California blonde” so many times in the past. Then one day recently, it stopped working. “Hey, like the silver you got going there!” I would hear people say, after I had “become blonde,” so I thought. Wait, I was not silver, or was I? The highlighting had failed. So, it would take a return to a “base” color of brown, before I could transform myself to “blonde” highlights again.
So, I did it. But, chemicals had never saturated my head before with highlighting. This “base brown” was a giant thick bath of chemicals on my head that I was not sure I liked. I too, worry about how my grey matter might be affected. Worse yet, about how it might be carcinogenic.
So, although I loved being a brunette with golden highlights, I think I will let the “silver-grey” grow in!
My mother-in-law, who had a thick head of beautiful white hair, once said to me as I admired her beautiful crowning glory, “You too will have hair like this one day!” Wishful thinking for my thin hair (my grandmother had a head of thin curls with peaks of scalp throughout). But, hey, she lived to be 100 years old!
I guess time to give up my “California blonde” look. At nearly retirement age, it’s probably about time!
Thank you, Judith Gray, for this inspiring post! Also enjoyed the link to Amelia Grant’s post on grey hair. Both of you truly look great!
Yippee! Welcome to the club, feeling free to be you and me. I went to lunch with my 92 yr old MIL and her friend mentioned she was the only gray haired woman at the table, yes my MIL still colors her hair. But I said no, you’re not. This is what happens to a strawberry blonde, I turned platinum. We are all made of strong stuff, silver, platinum gold and fine metals!
That’s inspiring (comment above on being made of strong stuff!) and I agree with all the women, you are very becoming. And a lovely piece to give us a strong sense of self. Thank you.
So far I am lucky in that I have never had to color my hair. I’m a blonde and I am sure I have some white, gray or silver in there! But the blonde hides it. Ha! Most people think I have it highlighted. Mother Nature is doing the highlighting! I wonder from time to time what I will do when MN starts to win out over my original color. This article and the posts have been good food for thought. The thought of spending hours and lots of money coloring my hair is not appealing! Stay tuned and thanks for sharing your various experiences!
Amazing your color has held this long. You go, Richmond Girl!
Judith, To me, you haven’t aged a day since our days together at the library. Thanks for such a wonderful post. Keep them coming!