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.
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.