Do you realize how old I know you think I am when you call me “Honey” or “Dearie”? (Dearie is the worst, isn’t it? It conjures up the mental image of an old woman with wispy white curls in a translucent halo over a pink scalp. Or a man so old as to be androgynous, his hollow chest invisible as he sits in his wheelchair waiting, watching for someone to bring his dinner tray.)
So my hair is white. So what? Not only was it a pain to dye it for years, practicalities intervene. Because here’s a tip for you in coming years: when your hair is white and you dye it, just a silly millimeter of grow out causes you to look as if you are balding. Yes, it’s true.
I’m trying to overcome my urge to be snippy. But really! I know the drawbacks of white hair…no matter how stylish the “do”.
Although my hair turned white when I was in my forties, I steadfastly dyed it for 20 years. After all, I was in business. Teachers and social workers get away with graying or white hair. But businesswomen? Not so much. Visibly aging women in business are judged to have lost their capabilities and personal power along with the color of their hair.
Nowadays, though, I don’t think of myself as any particular age. I just am.
Until the older woman looks insulted when I offer my seat in the bus.
Until the grocery clerk says, “Are you sure you don’t need any help out with that little bag?”
Until the man wedging past me in the bar looks up from balancing his hamburger and beer and winces , “Oh, I’m sorry, did I shove you?”
Until the young woman waiting in line backs away and insists, “No, you go ahead.”
Wha…wha..what has happened? I think I’m still strong, active, vital. Yet I’m perceived as frail and maybe a slight bit stupid because I have white hair. Or it happens to older women with dyed hair, too. I’ll have to ask my one friend who still colors her hair.
A final complaint on the subject…
My husband’s father died in his 80’s with no gray hair. Now I am married to a man with the same genetic good fortune.
I AM NOT HIS MOTHER!