I got my hair coloured for the first time 12 years ago. And two years ago, I decided to stop that. I do like my natural hair colour, which is like a sun-kissed dark brown, and my hair is becoming healthier. Win-win, what? There will always be some naysayers. They make the world a little more interesting, albeit irritating, place to live in.
Recently I visited some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. As I hugged one girl, I heard two people standing behind me snicker and say, “Sh. Don’t tell her.”
I turned around. “Don’t tell me what?”
“Oh…nothing,” the boy lied.
“Um…you have a white hair on the back of your head,” he said with a smile that bordered on a smirk.
“I have three,” I corrected him. “One where you saw it, one on the side, and one on top, right in the middle.”
He narrowed his eyes and shook his head, saying slowly, “Why do you have white hair?”
If, at the age of 28, he doesn’t know why people have white hair it’s not my job to educate him. Such a question is best ignored. Or it should have a response like, “Because you’re just that annoying.” Instead I said, “Excuse me?”
He went again. “Why don’t you colour it?”
“Because I don’t care about a few white hairs? Because I like my natural hair colour? Because I don’t want to?”
Seriously, what is the problem here? Why should I have to dye my hair just because there are a few whites in there? And how, for goodness’ sake, is it anyone else’s business?
My hair-stylist actually pointed out each hair to me. I already knew about two (thanks to my brother), those he confirmed. Then as the other stylist there came up to us and said something, mine chuckled, and said, “Okay, I didn’t want to tell you but there’s a third one back here.”
“Oh okay,” I said nonchalantly. It really didn’t matter that much.
“Do you want to colour your hair?” he asked me.
“Nope,” I replied. “First I’m going to see how I deal with it.”
I didn’t always think like this. My first white hair appeared quite some time ago and, ignoring my brother’s cries of “Six will spring up in its place!”, I plucked it out a few times. FYI, the fabled six new white ones did not show up. However, I think I uprooted the silver strand because, at that time, I wasn’t ready to grow up just yet. I didn’t want to accept it. Also, at that time, thirty seemed a scary number. But, as you can see, my take on that changed too. I’m not a different person because my age has hit a certain number. I just try to make wiser, smarter decisions that I’m sure of. And that’s because I spent my first 30 years on many people who aren’t valuable to me today; I don’t want to have that happen with the next 30.
I’ve come to the realisation that these greys are just a sign of growing older and I don’t want to cover that up until I find out what it really means to me or how it affects me. I want to see how I handle signs like these in a world obsessed with youth. Of course, I use anti-aging creams and sunscreen and sunglasses…to prevent wrinkles, sunspots, dark circles, etc. Sure, I want to keep all these side-effects of aging at bay for as long as possible, but they have to be dealt with at some time or the other. I’d rather be comfortable in my skin as I grow than groan and moan because of something so natural as age and life. It’s something each and every one must progress through. There’s nothing unique about it.
When I decide to, I will have my hair coloured a beautiful deep chestnut or mahogany brown and I’ll enjoy it. But until then I have a chance to learn a little more about myself and I don’t want to lose it. It’s a period of a different kind of self-discovery, the kind that is possible only now, when gradually transitioning from one phase of life into the next. The transition is inevitable; it doesn’t matter if you resist it, lament it, freak out over it, or simply deny it. What does matter is what you make of the journey. And I want to savour it.
Three white hairs. One for each decade I’ve lived. So far.