There’s a thing going around social media; In three weeks we’ll know everyones true hair colour.
I feel a bit smug about this, as I made the decision to embrace my silver last year when I had two frozen shoulders for 12 months. This meant I could only lift my arms to Frankenstein level. I couldn’t put on my own coat, bras were a struggle and brushing my hair was a challenge. I didn’t touch the top of my head for a full year. I come from a family of early greys and started dying my greys from the time I was 26.
I had played with the idea of going grey several times through the years. I always had an uneasy feeling about piling a load of chemicals on my head every six weeks. And an article I had read years ago, in one of these ‘really, really, true story’ magazines, about a woman who suddenly developed a reaction to hair dye and had a stroke (not a good thing to read while you are sitting in a hair dressers getting your hair dyed) was always in the back of my mind during a dye job.
I started to self-dye when I came to Italy, as my reddish tone wouldn’t have been easy to match and I found the perfect one in a home dye. I’d stockpile two or three each time I went back to Ireland.
When my Frankenstein episode hit, I got my husband to dye my hair. It was not one of those moments where you say, ‘aw you missed your calling, you should have been a hairdresser.’ Far from it. There was more dye on my face, shoulders, neck, dog, than on my hair. I took a photo and sent it to a friend. She nearly called an ambulance. I looked like someone had tried to scalp and skin me alive.
After cleaning up the crime scene and as I scrubbed my skin I began to think, ‘why am I doing this?’
Why are we (women especially), so afraid of letting ourselves go grey? I had six weeks to think about it.
I ran it past my niece, “Maybe in a few years, it might make you look really old. Like 45 or something”.
I ran it past an Italian friend, “What? NOOOO! You look so young with your hair dyed, you look 32 or 34.”
“But I’m 47. I have a 23 year old daughter, why do I want to look 32? If people thought I looked 32 then they would think I had her when I was nine, which would be weirder than me having my natural hair colour don’t you think?”
She didn’t answer.
“Why can’t I look 47? ”
She thought for a moment;
“But Italian men love red hair!”
“I’m married 24 years, we’re still doing okay. I’m not looking for an Italian man.”
“Ah but why limit yourself to one man?”
She’s so Italian.
By 47 most of us have been through quite a few life learning episodes. I do feel a hell of a lot wiser then what I was 10 or 20 years ago. I am lucky to get to this age, some friends and family didn’t, so why can’t we all be proud of the age we achieve rather than trying to look a younger form of ourselves? My greys are like my badge of honour for surviving this long.
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to let my hair colour grow out. So I am six months into my non-dyed hair phase. And I’m loving my silver! My dyed hair would get frizzy and dry a week or two before it needed to be redone. my silver is silky soft and smooth. There’s a weird sense of new self-confidence and empowerment that has come with it which I haven’t got my head around yet. Not giving a damn what others think of me? Being content with myself rather than doing something for other people approval perhaps? I’m looking forward to it being completely grey but for now I have a weird, reverse, ombre hairdo going on.
My 17-year-old son was in need of a haircut before the quarantine and has decided to let his hair grow long for the hell of it to see what happens. We’ve discovered he has mad curly hair, not something he had when he was young.
Hopefully we’ll all be out of quarantine before I am fully grey and my son has a full 70s afro.