Shame that Grey Isn't in My Color Wheel

I'm ashamed I'm Going Grey


I never thought much about going grey forty years ago. Why would I? I was 12-years-old, it was 1978 and besides being in a dysfuntional family, life was awesome. I owned an Atari Game System, Merlin, and Perfection, which I'm sure was partially responsible for my shame issues. Shame is defined as an unpleasant self-conscious emotion often associated with negative self-esteem and worthlessness. I was confident that my body would remain in the condition it was given to me in 1969. I didn't know anyone who I had watched go grey in my childhood. My parents were relatively young in my youth and anyone I met who was older was already grey when I met them.


Elsa Lanchester and Boris Korlof in 1935 Bride of Frankenstein
Elsa Lanchester and Boris Korloff in 1935 Bride of Frankenstien

The first time I noticed grey hair was in 2003 while brushing my teeth. There were so few greys that I thought they were almost cute. Charming in the way that training bras and an almost nonexistent period were. I didn't think that in several years I would be on my way to a grey head. Those few adorable hairs turned into a small community, after all, it does take a village. How many hints does nature need to give me until I realize I'm going grey and about to experience shame on a different level? The first place I saw that my grey hair had gone from beneath the exterior to the surface was in my widow's peak.


For those who don't know what a widow's peak is, it's the area of hair in the middle of the forehead that dips down slightly. My OCD kicked in when I believed it was impossible to look at me without noticing that quintet of grey hairs. Slowly I started to obliterate that area as if my tweezers were weed whackers. I was hoping no one would notice, that is until the day I got my hair cut. The shame that was created by taking this issue literally into my own hands was huge. It didn't take long for my hairdresser Gayle to say while pointing to my forehead "Mhhnnn something happened around here. It's weird like your head has changed shape." She stood staring above my eyes until I couldn't take it anymore and fessed up. "Gayle, I tweezed my widow's peak...away. Literally, I slowly tweezed it until it was gone because it was grey." Shocked, she replied, "Why would you do that to yourself? The best thing for grey hair is to color it or leave it alone. Not perform surgery in the area." I sat in her chair mortified as I could see her reflection in the mirror shaking her head. My hair always looked so good after it is washed, cut, and blown that I had decided a few grey hairs in the front shouldn't bother me so I left my widow's peak alone after that appointment.


Two clerks of the Brittish Parliment donning thier wigs.
It was only recently that wigs don't need to be worn by British Parliament members.

A year later I noticed once again something was happening to my hair. It appeared as if the area in front of my ears was going grey. If I was a dog this area would be referred to as mutton-chops and would be endearing. I watched as week by week my mutton chops got greyer. I decided that I was ready for a complete dye job, which I had never done. I would make an appointment with Gayle to color my ginormous head of hair and I wouldn't have to worry about it again for a very long time. This is despite her telling me I needed to keep up the maintenance on my hair. Maintenance? Has my hair turned into a car with plugs, injectors, and compressors? I never follow directions because I think I know more than professionals in almost any field. This is a characteristic that my family and I share. There would be no maintenance as far as I was concerned. I took the Geritol-plunge and didn't plan on returning for several years.


Within two weeks of my decision, I would be in Gayles's chair. I picked a reddish-brown color and even got highlights. Besides almost passing out during the process, I was happy with the results. No doubt this was the most expensive self-care moment I ever had. When I arrived home and looked in the mirror I noticed something I didn't see in the salon. The hairs that were the most grey are now electric red. I mean redder than the red I had chosen for my hair. Anywhere there was grey there was now a shocking red color. Because the Internet is the best place to get truthful information I looked this phenomenon up and learned that fine hairs pick up the dye more readily than others. I walked around for several days ashamed as I told neighbors who didn't care that the color would improve with time.

A before and after photo of a women with grey roots verrsus he with a new grey hairstyle
Older women are beginning to show their grey hair

Eventually, the bright hairs would dull and all would be fine for the next two weeks. However, there was more I needed to know about this costly and smelly protocol. I didn't know my grey would grow back so quickly, which would let the world know I dye my hair. Like most narcissists, I believed the entire world actually gives a crap. I was now walking around looking like I paid for an ombre-style dye job except that I didn't. I thought back to that visit to Gayle's salon and remembered her mentioning something about maintenance. I ignored her because that is what I do. However, it was all coming back to me, she did explain that if I waited too long between appointments not only would my hair look terrible, the actual appointment would no longer be considered "doing my roots" and would be charged appropriately. If it isn't bad enough that as a 52-year-old I have to be concerned about the health of each body cavity, now my head needs maintenance? Like a car with plugs, injectors, and compressors, I now need life support for my locks.


Because of the pandemic and its hits on my economical well-being, I haven't had a haircut and dye for two years. No amount of makeup could make me look attractive enough to hide what's going on up there. These days I simply have other things to worry about than my hair. OK, that's a lie. Anyone who has OCD knows one can continue to put an equal amount of importance on dozens of things simultaneously. I'm too cheap to get my hair done six times a year to avoid root growth. Instead, I walk around trying to ignore the reality that my hair looks like a wig worn by the British Parliament.

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