Root gazing

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.


11 thoughts on “Roots

  1. I did the same thing this year! I’d been dying it red for years and got sick of the hassle and all of the emotional strain involved. Brunette, now! Thanks for the history lesson!


  2. I wanna see the new you! or is it the former (not old) you? Glad to see you are harmonizing the outer with the inner… How well I know that you see “more than the obvious in everything”, especially people…that can be good or not…


  3. I always said I’d embrace the gray when it came, wear the mantle of “wise woman” with dignity. Much to my surprise, I discovered a store of vanity I didn’t realize I had! Maybe in another ten years or so, I’ll let the silver shine.


    • Isn’t funny how we think we will be one way and then….kind of like when I thought I’d go “natural” during childbirth. lol. Didn’t happen…we’ll see how I approach my crone-dom…if I have the lovely gray of my grandmother, I’ll be okay. If not…off to the box and bottle (hair color bottle, that is). ;.)


  4. I like the idea of getting back to your roots. You want to be genuine and not use anything to set up an artificial self. I have this notion that I have a core (my roots) but the core is still unfolding. Who will I be when I am70 as opposed to when I was 60? Will I discover deep within core/roots I have resources I did not know I had to deal with deficits created by the aging process? I think so, I hope so. Keep up the excellent reflections.


  5. Pingback: » Roots « The Luxury of Trees » Hair Styles For Hair ! Hairstyles for hair

  6. Good post, Rose. I wonder if all women identify themselves by their hair. I did when I was younger. If my hair was not perfect, I had no confidence in myself. The most difficult thing is having wonderful hair while you are young and having to deal with the stresses of aging as time passes.


  7. I enjoy this perspective. Deep rooted meaning, here. I also reflect on the idea of defining ourselves by our hairstyle, color and otherwise. Going back to my roots would be tough. The only thing constant in my life is change, and that includes my hair. I change it probably 3 times a year. Rosemary, you could never be considered field mouse.


  8. Nice post, Rose. I surprise if all women recognize themselves by their hair. The most challenging thing is having perfect hair while you are young and having to deal with the hassles of advanced years as time passes. Nice Sentence “how many more days till you can’t stand it? “ Thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts.


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