When I was in my early 30’s and fighting the heavy foot of postpartum depression that guaranteed a sinking of some sort, I decided I needed to do something to jerk myself out of the darkness. There are many ways we give ourselves a jerk, and luckily this was one of the less harmful ways. I bleached my hair. I had stayed away from all hair color while pregnant, as I was suspicious of it harming my baby. I also used all natural soap; I ate breakfast every morning. But even though I was healthier than I had been for a few years, I didn’t like my “natural” color, which I called field-mouse brown. So, when I got my hands on the color, I didn’t hold back.
I remember the mirror-shock. Who was that? I was somewhat traumatized, but I assured myself I’d alleviated a bit of darkness, if only symbolically. On that very self-conscious debut day of the new head of hair, one of my dear male colleagues/friends said to me, You look like Faye Dunaway! What a beautiful lie it was. The only way I looked like Faye Dunaway was if the lights were out and Faye was playing a character with brittle, over-bleached hair. I look back at photos of myself back then and cringe.
Hair coloring, though, is not a recent invention. Even the Egyptians dyed their hair, and some wore wigs. The dark hair was a status symbol. You see, I often think of former societies as struggling to survive but this is not the case, even if history books help to uphold the hubris we in modern society have so much of. No, these folks weren’t just trying to make it day by day, they also did things to beautify themselves (at least the well-off did). If it wasn’t dyeing their hair, it often involved wearing a wig. There are numerous points in history where we can point to wig wearing, even with men. Look at the founding fathers who carried over a culture of wig wearing. Hair is power and status. There’s a reason so many of us dye our hair blond.
Since I see something more than the obvious in almost everything, I see my return to my roots as a return to being more authentic. More of who I really am. Ironically, I feel less depressed with darker hair. Why? Because maintaining the champagne fizz hair I had was depressing. It’s initial wow! wore off too quickly. Whenever I looked in the mirror there was the critic in my left ear: how many more days till you can’t stand it? “It” being those dark little beginnings of un-dyed hair. When I’d ignore the voice, I’d look in the mirror weeks later to see what looked like an oil spill on my head. My hairdresser back then called it the “line of demarcation.” Well, I’ve erased that line. I’ve gone back to my roots, and I feel free. I feel as if I’m honoring something true about myself in a physical way. Like setting in a story – the manifestation of something inner made outer.
As for when the gray comes out? Well, that’ll be another blog post.