Why fuss over a few strands of hair without pigment?
Because essentially that’s all grey hair is. Yet we live in a world so obsessed with its unbending ideal of youth and beauty that before long, we too start to base our every move on the number of colour-less locks which adorn our heads. It baffles me so much. Well enough of that crap, I say. It’s time to put it all into perspective.
First off let us be thankful we have hair…
And I do say this as a reminder to myself on those odd days when I fall for society’s lure to whinge about, whine about and judge my badger streaks. So what! If we have a mop of hair atop our head at all, no matter what the colour, we should be thankful. Some have lost their tresses through medical procedures and would love to have our dilemma: to colour or not to colour.
And am I the only one who doesn’t put grey and ageing together?
I discovered my first wirey grey when I was 20 years old. And yes. At first I absolutely panicked. I was on a gap year in France, barely out of my teens… peering in disbelief into the tiny mirror in my sardine tin of an apartment and boom! There is was. Clear as day. Seemingly it had grown out of nowhere overnight.
But actually now I am thankful. You see I am used to a smattering of grey. It doesn’t alarm me. And I know that makes me one of the lucky ones. I feel comfortable ‘in my own hair’. What a thing to reach your 40s with the ‘perfection’ of jet black/ruby red/strawberry blonde/chestnut tresses – or any other hue of the rainbow besides – only to discover your first grey seconds after you’d blown out your candles!
Yes, this is what society would have us believe; that once we reach the decade formerly known as ‘over the hill’ from thereon in we will morph with the speed of Jack and Jill rolling down said mound into the colour of oatmeal. In other words we now have all the appeal of a bland bowl of porridge. We may as well get in the queue for our pension already.
But for most of us this is simply not the case. Our first greys often appear in childhood. We just don’t notice them.
Yes, even my kids have grey hairs!
And they are 4 and 8. One a piece. Their greys can sometimes be seen when the sun shines with a certain light. Wirey and undeniably see-through. So does this mean they need to ask Santa for Zimmer frames rather than bikes?
And some of us grey much later in life…
We can be in our 60s and sporting locks that whisper only a hint of grey. But contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t make us any younger either. Of course most scientists would disagree. With age comes a reduction of melanin they would say. The hair turns grey and eventually white, they would echo. All completely true. Until you bring in epigenetics. And then absolutely nothing about our bodies is black or white… conversely it is very grey.
I believe it’s US who give grey meaning.
We get to choose. We can see it for what it is: hair that has lost its colour. Or we can add every connotation under the sun to it, ageing ourselves prematurely in the process. We can focus on it, obsess about it and discover more greys by the day since thoughts become things or we can hone in on the aspects of our face and body that we love.
Is it the sparkle in our eyes? The curves and contours of our frame? We could even start off with general gratitude for all our body parts being in working order. It may seem simplistic but it’s true; the more we shift our focus from the unwanted to the wanted (the things about ourselves we actually really rather like), the less any grey becomes an issue… and the slower its growth. And that traditional scientists is Quantum Physics for you. Which you should try putting in your pipe and smoking some time…
But moving swiftly on.
Our natural hair colour IS white.
Melanin formation actually begins before birth. But the colour our hair takes on is dependent on the distribution, type and amount of melanin in the middle layer of the hair shaft (or cortex). So when we look at it from this perspective, it really does seem like we’re making mountains out of molehills. We started off with white hair anyway when we were in our mums’ tums!
So stop being Nicky Clarke-ist!
Most importantly on yourself… as well as others. Does it really matter what colour our hair is? Why all the furore? Don’t do a Nicky Clarke and deflect your own inadequacies at The Duchess of Cambridge, your own mop, or those of your family and friends. It is only hair. That’s all. If our roots reveal silver sprinkles because we were too busy fending off hyperemeses gravidarum, so what? If we want to ‘experiment’ by going natural after 20 years of hitting the highlights, so what? If we want to jump on the #trending bandwagon and dye our hair glossy grey when we are an eighteen year old naturally ebony haired guy with not a hint of natural grey, so what?
We’ve got to cross over the imaginary George Clooney threshold we’ve created in this world. The embodiment of a male Hollywood A lister with salt and pepper hair is NOT the glass ceiling of successfully being a silver fox.
The long and the short of it is: It’s our hair and we’ll do whatever the hell we like with it.