Writer: Beth Hallman | I knew it was there. I’d seen streaks of it five years ago when I was still embracing my natural brown hair color and a perm. Judge me for the perm, but I truly wanted to look like Beyonce and curls was as close as I was going to get. Back then, the pops of silver seemed innocuous enough, a sweet celebration of the passage of time.
Then, came the change. Not menopause, although that heifer’s been lurking around the corner for years now. No, I’m talking about the change deep down in my soul parts, the time I decided I was going to be who I am no matter who was watching. My outside was going to reflect this internal revolution as well. And that started with a couple of tattoos and an all call for a hairdresser who could give me a short Annie Lennox inspired ‘do. We threw on some teal for good measure. Then, I started experimenting with more and more colors. I was blonde and loving it, but these alternating streaks and chunks of purple, pink, green, and blue helped me along in my transformation from people pleasing robot to the loud and proud woman I’ve always wanted to be. High school me rejoiced. I was doing my own thing and it felt glorious.
When we moved to a small town in South Georgia, I toned the hair down for a few months. Blonde was here to stay, but the rainbow wasn’t coming out until I felt safer. I met a new hairdresser and BAM! I was back in business. The bigger the bow I wore, the bolder felt. The ever changing colors of my hair and the multitude of headscarves I wore became my signature look. I reveled in it.
But maintenance. Ah, the cost of maintaining platinum blonde and purple hair was tragically beyond my blogger bankbook. I think I went eggplant for a few months and then, back to blonde again. I’d rather cut back on books and cable than not have those glorious blonde tresses. One day, my hairdresser suggested an undercut. I should have known. If you give me an undercut, I’m going to want a mohawk. In my early twenties, I rocked a mohawk for a few years. Some might suggest a woman in her forties should not harken back to such an outlandish hair style, but I was still determined to look like the person I always wanted to be especially now I was actually being her. Some people might call this a midlife crisis. Some people can hush their mouths.
The mohawk was daring and beautiful. I adored it. But something became glaringly obvious. The mohawk itself was the “natural blue black” dye I used in my twenties. The sides, the stubbly little hairs growing from either side of my head, were glistening with silver. Not just pockets and patches like it was five years ago. No, my hair was full on silver and gray. I didn’t think about it much while I sported the mohawk. The contrast of the black with the silver was too gorgeous. The top grew so long I could wear a ponytail. I stuck copious amounts of pens in a bun I wore no matter the occasion. I’d found my hairstyle of the moment. I loved it until I didn’t.
That’s when I began wrestling with cutting it all off to one length, into a pixie cut. I was surprised by this turmoil. My hair philosophy had always been “It’ll grow back!” I went back and forth for months. Do I let the silver and gray sides grow out to an inch or so and then, make the cut or do I shave them back and keep this scrumptious mohawk in play? One night, I got out the scissors and just did it. I just cut the whole thing off and then, used my husband’s clippers to even everything out to an inch and a half. I was now in the land of the silver and gray pixies.
I always thought that once I went completely gray, I’d wholeheartedly embrace these changes of the crone. And listen, I do. At least, part of me does. The stumbling over it all was completely unexpected. While I was playing with platinum blonde and tasting the colors of the rainbow, my natural color transformed itself. Taking it in all at once was overwhelming. Suddenly, I wasn’t in my mid- forties. I was knocking on fifty. The day had come when my hair started acting its age.
I took to asking my family over and over, “Yes, but what percentage of it is gray? 85% How much silver is there? 15%? Can you see any brown at all?” They’d all give me this sad smile and try to tell me the truth of it as I waited for those percentages to fluctuate. The truth of it was I hated and loved what had happened while I wasn’t looking. My husband asked me why I didn’t dye it if I didn’t like it. I bristled at the idea. This wasn’t a question of not liking my hair. This was a great reckoning. I would not dye my hair to defy my age. I wasn’t going to hide the beautiful colors of my experience. At least not until I came to terms with them being there in the first place.
So, here I sit. I’m on the fence about my hair. Not about whether I like the way it looks. I think I look freaking fabulous. No, this is about how I feel about my journey and the passage of time. Maiden, mother, crone parade before me. I’m still the little girl, flying down the hill on her Huffy, feet off the pedals as I squeal with delight. I’m still that young girl, rocking her style. I can see the more sedate woman who thought she had to look a certain way to be accepted as a wife and mother. I’m definitely no longer afraid of my outside reflecting the growth of my soul parts and so perhaps that is truly where I am. Not sitting on a fence, but getting to know the person I always was, the person I always wanted to be.