Going Gray

I used to joke about how coloring my hair was akin to keeping my portrait in the attic the way the fictional Dorian Grey did – one day, I’d have to face reality. The day has come! I’ve decided to let the gray grow in.

In The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, a handsome British aristocrat has his portrait painted, and promptly falls in love with the beauty of his image. He makes a deal with the devil that allows him to stay forever young, while his portrait, which he keeps locked in the attic, ages.

If you google “going gray,” you’ll discover that graying hair is a trend. Apparently, a lot of baby boomers are facing their Dorian Grey moment. Most women who’ve transitioned successfully from artificial color to a natural look, profess to love their salt and pepper tresses.

I’ve colored since my mid-forties. While I was still in the corporate work force, I felt pressured not to age too visibly, since I was working with colleagues young enough to be my children. Now that my sole focus is writing and I have much more flexibility in my schedule, it feels like a good time for this grand experiment.

Liberating myself from the time and expense of coloring is appealing. But I confess, I’m ambivalent. After consulting with my hairdresser, we agreed to continue highlighting without coloring the roots to help blend the colors. This means we’ll need to trim off old color with every haircut, and that the new growth will mingle with the old color, hopefully, in a pleasing way.

According to Wilde’s novella, Dorian was so freaked out when he saw the portrait, that he stabbed it. His servants found an aged dead body in the attic next to the portrait, which had grown young again.

Dorian faces his portrait in the 1945 The Pict...

Dorian faces his portrait in the 1945 The Picture of Dorian Gray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t plan on destroying any of my old photographs. But I may need to avoid mirrors! While the process will be gradual, it will likely be a shock as more and more gray hair grows in. I plan to post pictures as the process unfolds over the coming months, so stay tuned. Drop me a line if you have tips or words of encouragement.

14 thoughts on “Going Gray

  1. I colored my hair before my last job search. Didn’t want to call attention to my age. After I got the job I found out that they hired me, in part, because of my maturity! Needless to say I let it revert to gray. I love my gray hair. It’s the jawline I’d like to change. Would that it was as easy as hair color!

    • Everyone who has “reverted” says they love it. So, I’m counting on y’all to be right!!

  2. Yup, I’ve had Dorianna in my attic for a long time. Growing out the gray is an interesting journey. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did — several times. (LOL)

  3. Please don’t avoid a mirror. You are loved regardless of the colour of your hair and I encourage you to keep loving yourself fully regardless of your grey hair. We can learn a lot from nature I don’t think trees hate themselves when their leaves turn brown in autumn, and we can be the same – full of love and allowing the process of life 🙂

    • Such wise words! I love trees so I will take this to heart and try to be as allowing of myself as I am of the beautiful sycamore trees in my neighborhood. Thank you!

  4. I love the way your hair looks in the photo. Layering in the gray like highlights has been effective for some of my friends. I’ve noticed that not all skin types are enhanced by salt and pepper or gray — and there are many shades of gray. Remember those blue haired old ladies of yore? Gray is a palette that welcomes color!

    • Thanks for your support of the strategy, Susan. I’m not sure whether (or how) the gray will go with my skin type. Thankfully, lots of us are doing this now, and there are tons of blogs out there with good suggestions.

  5. The key is to avoid mirrors. I’ve never dyed my hair, but I am still a little shocked at being reminded of the march of time when I catch a glimpse of all the grey. 🙂

    • I have that feeling too, Linda. But I’m choosing to celebrate it. We shall see if my resolve holds up!

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