Feminist Friday: This Time Will Be the Last Time
You guys, I’ve missed you!! I’ve missed writing – life has been a giant can o’ crazy this year and PYDPO has been a casualty. I apologize. I’m hoping that things will be settling and I can get back to sharing way too much personal information with strangers on the internet very soon. There have been so many things I’ve wanted to discuss with y’all recently! But every time I’ve started to write about MRAs or #NotAllMen or Rihanna’s ass, the rage has overwhelmed me and I’ve had to stop. So today I’m going to ignore all of that shit and talk about something much more important: all of my gray hair.
I turned 33 this year. I’m in the middle age zone – I’m all settled with a partner and kids, I have a career, I long for home ownership, I worry about retirement and life insurance. While all of that makes me feel like an adult, what makes me feel old is my hair. Years of slathering on Water Babies to avoid sun poisoning coupled with lots of extra collagen has left me fairly wrinkle free so far, but my roots show my age. And what used to be one here or there has turned into the fact that I’m definitely, totally going gray.
Getting old blows in a lot of ways, and it’s no secret that the process is generally worse for women – even on a strictly biological level. Men have a harder time getting erections; our entire reproductive system shuts down and throws our bodies into complete turmoil. We endure 30ish years of pain, blood and whacked out hormones every single month, then we spend the rest of our lives suffering through hot flashes, dry vaginas and whacked out hormones. And while there are boner pills aplenty, science is taking its sweet time figuring out how to help women through and after menopause safely and comfortably. (It’s almost like medical research funding is controlled by dudes with a vested interest in making sure their wangs work until death…)
But even those things that happen equally between the sexes – like gray hair – end up worse for women. Men with gray hair are distinguished! Women with gray hair have let themselves go. There’s an entire industry bent on keeping women looking “youthful.” There are dyes and serums and surgeries meant to erase any sign of age. And while men are being targeted more, there’s no real comparison. Just visit your local drugstore or Target. Aisles and aisles are dedicated to keeping us from looking our age. Sarah Silverman said something brilliant on Bill Maher recently, “As soon as a woman is old enough to have an opinion, have a voice and be unafraid – she is very much encouraged by all sorts of people to crawl under a rock and die.” And instead of fighting the idea that age equals irrelevancy, we surrender to the cult of youth to try and stay important and visible.
There was a time when white haired women were wise. We were leaders. We were respected and consulted. White hair meant you’d survived and crone wasn’t an insult. There are brilliant people who spend their lives analyzing why this isn’t true in our society now (the answer generally starts with a “p” and rhymes with “hate-riarchy”), so I’m not going to try and get into all of that. But just from my personal experience, seeing those white and gray hairs is a real kick in the ovaries – and I’m an almost delusionally overconfident person! Why does this sign of age – more than my rapidly sagging boobs, struggle with fine print or inability to understand anything on Cartoon Network – affect me so much?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve always been vain about my hair (it’s fairly glorious), but I’ve also colored it for years and years. Maybe it’s the loss of choice? Maybe it’s the fact that the grays are increasing exponentially? Maybe it’s the fact that I still also get acne, so I can’t be old enough for my pigments to die? Maybe it’s something deeper and darker I haven’t considered? Whatever the reason, I’m tired of it.
I have a hair appointment tomorrow. It is going to be the last time I color my hair. Once more, then I’m done. Maybe forever, maybe just for a while, at least until I can say my motivation to color isn’t to hide grays and simply for fun again. I’m going to quit whining over my rapidly receding youth. Which, shit, I’ve got roughly 50 years left – I should be focused on making that an awesome adventure instead of running from it. My life is way more rad now than when I had zero grays, what am I mourning? The loss of some pigment seems like a completely fair trade to be where I am now, who I am now. I boast about not falling into society’s standards of beauty in so many ways, it’s time to let go of this hypocrisy. I love my fat ass, now I’m going to love my gray hair. I will not let looking old be an insult or a reason to be disregarded. I will demand the respect my years have earned me. I’ll let the grays speak to my strength, my survival, my continued vitality.
It’s time to embrace the Crone.
Edit: I realized this sounded anti-hair dyeing, which isn’t what I’m trying to say. I’m just unhappy with my motivation for coloring my hair.
Beth and I are starting a gray-haired girl gang, and you are totally welcome to join. We are embracing our gray because it’s Awesome!