Jamie Lee Curtis is my shero.
The elegant actress went gray in her 50s and still sports a funky, spiky, gray pixie cut at 62.
I’ve got a girl crush on that girl. She helped me go gray. I needed a role model who didn’t look old. I also had Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Carole King, Glenn Close and Diane Keaton.
Jane Fonda finally turned gray. Apparently, gray is the new blonde. Last week, another girlfriend asked me how to ditch the dye.
You’ve heard of civil disobedience? We’re engaging in silver disobedience.
A pandemic is the perfect time to go gray, and we’re still in the midst of it. People aren’t out and about as much and are about to go back indoors as winter arrives.
When the pandemic first hit, I worried about how to keep coloring my hair. I called my salon and found out it was closing. They had just lost their popular stylist to another salon. After more than 20 years in the business, they knew they wouldn’t survive COVID.
They had been coloring my hair for over 20 years. When I had cancer in 1998, my hair fell out and came back 10 different colors. It grew back in various shades of gray, white, brown, blonde. I looked like a calico cat, so I picked a shade of brown and went with it. I had my hair colored to match the shade of brown Mother Nature originally gave me.
Over time, my hair started turning gray, so I went blonder so I didn’t have to color it so often. Every time I mentioned going gray, my husband bought me another gift card to the salon. He loved my brown hair. So did I.
When I heard my salon was closing, I drove to the drugstore and bought various shades of color to dye my own hair. I never opened them.
Every time I looked at them, I said, “What am I doing?”
Why am I panicking about being me? When do I get to be my true, authentic self?
I was tired of keeping up the façade. When you first color your hair, it’s every two months. Then once a month. Then every four weeks. Then you notice the gray sneaking in by week three.
So one day, I stood at the mirror and made peace with me. With the aging, changing, growing older me. It was scary and sad and exciting and freeing to make the decision to stop coloring my hair.
Oh, those first few months. Yikes. That skunk stripe kept growing wider and made me sooo uncomfortable. I wore a baseball cap and didn’t go out as much until it grew longer and I could trim away the brown.
At first, I cringed at the old lady staring back at me in the mirror.
I am old. I turned 65 this year. I’m old enough not to care any more.
I’m old enough to have lost way too many dear friends – Beth, Jim, Bill, Monica, Erica, David, Jeffrey, Jodi, Heidi – who never got to grow as old as I am right now.
This is a get to.
I get to grow old. I get to turn gray or white or silver. Now, I love it.
So how do you go gray?
First, look in the mirror and befriend that face of yours no matter what color of hair frames it. Tell her that you will love her regardless.
Then, as the gray grows in, every time you look in the mirror, love that face. Today is the youngest you are ever going to be. And if you are lucky – no blessed – you will get to see that lovely face age and sag and grow spots and wrinkles and sprout hairs in random places.
Friends have approached me about going gray.
“You were so brave,” they say.
No, bravery was doing chemo and radiation to get to grow old enough to have gray hair.
When you ditch the dye, you get to rethink beauty and aging. You realize going gray is an act of freedom and feminism.
All around us, men go gray. Why don’t we?
It’s time for us to be bold as we grow old.