Friday, April 13, 2018

Fifty Strands of Grey


I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do I have plans for reading it anytime soon - or ever.

But I love all the many plays on words that have evolved from the iconic title.

This week, I want to talk about grey hairs.

For starters, you need to know that I have dyed my hair continuously for over twenty-six years. I started with drugstore henna back in the early 1990s. To my chagrin, it smelled like barn muck and made my hair - and scalp and face and hands - a flaming carrot-red mess.

My French teacher called me "Pippi Long Stocking" and thought herself the zenith of hilarity.

The family I babysat for tried desperately not to crack up at me - fresh from losing my hair virginity - when I arrived to care for their four children.

As time went on, I experimented with full-on peroxide-based dyes, tried out highlighting caps, and even performed a re-colouring of my younger sister's tresses in the final twelve hours leading up to her nuptials.

I've been raven, brunette, blonde, red, white, silver, lavender, pink, and any other shade you can pick on that continuum.

Oh. Don't forget, lemon pie yellow.

That's right. In a futile attempt to bleach my own hair with an over-the-counter product, my colour was a decidedly citrus hue. My hairdresser didn't even disguise her jokes at my expense, claiming I should "leave this kind of colouring to the professionals."

(If I see her again, I'll let her know that just last year, my professional hairdresser succeeded in ALSO turning my hair lemon pie yellow, much to his horror and my amusement).

So why the obsession with hair colour?

My modus operandi anytime my heart was broken by a love interest was to dye my hair a new colour. It made me feel empowered and strong. I knew I couldn't pick up the pieces of my trampled heart, but I could feel better about my hair.

Along with colouring my hair, I've had it every length and style: from long spiraling curves reaching nearly to my waist, to shaved bald as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society and Locks of Love, to my current 'do which is a somewhat shaved on the sides, spiked fauxhawk on top look.

Recently, something new happened to me. I found a grey hair.

Correction: I found SEVERAL grey hairs!

It all happened because I decided I could no longer justify spending exorbitant amounts of disposable income to have my hair professionally cut and coloured. You could say my hairdresser and I broke up.

I started getting my hair shaved and cut at the local barbershop downtown, and the last time I coloured my hair was when my oldest daughter and I bleached a section of our hair last summer and then coloured it pink.

In the intervening months, I've toned down on my hairstyle, too - it's now a far less severe look, and really is just short at the sides and longer on the top.

And for the first time since I was fifteen, I have a full head of my own, God-given hair colour.

I suppose you could say that it means I'm finally stable in a loving relationship - no more need to constantly change my hair to suit my shades of broken-heartedness.

The truth? I found some grey hairs, and I couldn't be more excited.

To me, grey hair has always been the height of sophistication and sexiness. I remember when the show What Not To Wear first aired, and I was supremely jealous of Stacy London's streak of silver. Likewise, both Rogue and Storm from the 2004 X-Men film inspired me with their glittering argentate locks.

Anna Paquin as Rogue in X-Men (2004).
What Not to Wear's Stacy London

Halle Berry as Storm in X-Men (2004).

Even more empowering is the thought of channelling the power and assuredness of more mature, grey-haired fictional women such as Miranda Priestly, or real women like Helen Mirren.

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.

Helen Mirren

So I have officially sworn off dying my hair.

And guess what? I've never received so many compliments in my life.

Here's to growing into my silver, sexy self.


  1. Yay, I love this! While I've rarely colored my hair, I'm totally embracing the gray and am enjoying the "highlights" and volume it gives my fine hair. Cheers!

    1. Hooray for grey!!! How’d we get old enough for grey, Molly?