Monday, July 2, 2007

going grey as an environmental choice?

My mom starting going grey when she was in her 30's. Being a pretty low-maintenance person, she's left it natural. I remember an uncharacteristic outburst from her one night at the dinner table when I was a kid. Her hairdresser had convinced her to try a "rinse," and none of us in the family had noticed. This was enough fuel for her to never try coloring it again. Taking after her, I saw my first few grey hairs when I was in my late 20's. But being far more vain than my mom, I've been keeping my secret under wraps with dark brown or black dye ever since.

As the years go by, my hair continues to get greyer- a shocking reminder that, try as I might to hide it, I am getting older. The coloring habit becomes problematic in that it creates an addiction to looking a certain way- a way in which my friends, family, and coworkers become accustomed to seeing me. I've considered going natural many times through the years, but feared the thought of all the attention it would bring- "oh my god! your hair! it's grey!" is not something I've wanted to hear or have to explain.

I have several reasons for wanting to go natural. Coloring my hair is a pain. It costs money. It ruins clothing, towels, and pillow cases. It dries out my hair and gives it a strange texture. It makes me feel like I'm trying to be someone I'm not.

Dyeing hair promotes ageism by perpetrating a societal myth of eternal youth. It devalues the virtues of being an adult such as maturity, wisdom, and patience. It encourages us to be in denial about something over which we have no control- the fact that we will all get old.

And hair color has its environmental drawbacks. Let's face it- it is a wasteful process. Despite the fact that I use plant-based "natural" color, it's packaged in non-recyclable plastic bottles. And far more people use chemical hair color, a potentially harmful practice I'm allying myself with if I continue to do this.

So this time- as I've watched my roots grow in grey- I'm deciding to give it a shot and see what my natural color looks like. I had my hair cut today into a cute bob, making the process a little less scary.

So now I'd like to hear from you. Is there anyone out there who has made a similar choice? Are you tired of being tethered to a practice which runs counter to your own ethical or environmental beliefs? Have you been inspired by Helen Mirren? I know I have! Or are you one of the brave ones who has never colored your hair? Do you think it's harder for women to go grey than it is for men? Let me know what you think!


sulu-design said...

Great post (and lovely new look of the blog, by the way). I stopped dying my hair years ago. I wasn't going gray, just dying it for fun. But I stopped for a few reasons. I wanted to set an example for my students, who process their hair like crazy. I wanted to promote the idea that we're all good as we are. I also started taking a look at where I was spending my money and if my spending reflected my values. Spending money on hair dye didn't. And, as a bonus, I'm so much happier that I don't have to maintain it. I hope you're happy with your natural choice, too!

janelle said...

i think this great molly. i have another friend is has thought about dying her greying hair. . and i keep telling her no. . i love it!i love grey hair.

dash said...

susan- that's so good that you think about what your students are seeing when they look at you. we influence kids without even knowing it.

janelle- it's odd that natural hair stands out as being different- and it occurred to me that you have natural hair. right on!

ambika said...

My mom quit dying 3-4 years ago. It was really hard for her but she hated the upkeep, the expense and how, no matter how much she paid, her hair just never felt as healthy afterward.

Given my own hair's propensity to go brittle and haystack-y if I dye it, I know I'll leave it alone.

It shouldn't be harder to women to go gray but I can see why so many struggle with it.

Oceangoddess said...

I agree with you. I'm spending about $100 a month on color. (I'm in a smaller Midwestern city--I know this is cheap in comparison to NYC or LA.) If I invested that money wisely, it would be a *lot* towards a more secure financial future.

I've only been coloring for about 2 years. Started going gray at 26, first colored at 41. I want my beautiful, healthy-looking hair back. I am now trying to figure out how to do this in the least obvious way.

If anyone has pointers, please let me know.

Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts about this little-discussed topic.

dash said...

hey ocean goddess- yeah- save your money! just hang in there and know that you're doing the right thing. If you're already going to a colorist, (s)he might be able to help you with the transition by putting in highlights. or use a rinse-out hair color like *loving care* to tone down the grey a bit. hey, I've been at this for seven months. I never thought I'd make it this long. good luck!