Friday, January 29, 2010

Going Gray Gracefully

Or, "It's Great to be Gray!" Well, at least it used to be, back when the alternative was death.

Earlier this week I was in the orthodontist's office with Edmund (and when I say "earlier" I mean "earlier." It was 7:30 in the morning.) As I was sitting in the waiting room, trying to pretend the instant chai in the orthodontist's office was as good as a Starbuck's Chai Latte, and wondering if I should pick up and read the skanky magazines that shrieked, "Brad texts away while Angelina has torrid affair with cell phone salesman," and "Octomom shows off sexy new bod," or just get out the knitting I brought with me, I couldn't help but overhear the three women talking behind the receptionist's desk.

"Women should never go gray. My mom is 79 and she only has a touch of gray. Whenever I see any gray hairs, I'll pull them out. If I get more, I'll definitely cover it up."

"Did you see that woman? She was too young to be gray! She had two young children. And she wasn't even wearing any make-up!"

"My husband would never stand for that. He told me so."

"Men look distinguished when they're gray. Women just look haggard."

I tried to sink into my chair without spilling my overly sweet and chemically enhanced faux chai, thinking how stupid of me to not put on any make-up this morning before our early morning trip to the tooth-straightening guy. But the longer I sat there listening to their catty remarks about other women, the more I thought this was unfair.

It's unfair that men should be allowed to go gray, nay, encouraged to go gray, for that added look of distinguishment, a la George Clooney, while women are told their looks must be perpetually youthful and glowing, otherwise they are fodder for office gossip and snide remarks.

Even some Catholic ladies are getting into the spirit of "looking good," some positing that it is the duty of the wife to look lovely for her husband after he's been slaving away at work all day. There are Purity Fashion Shows, which are supposed to promote modesty, but I think they sometimes can promote the importance of outward beauty so much that some girls may feel intimidated. Not everyone can look like a runway model, but that is the sort of look most girls crave and society reinforces.

I believe true beauty radiates from the inside. Just think of someone you know and love who might not meet all the world's requirements to be considered "beautiful." But you see that person and you see beauty, right? To be truly beautiful, we need to be at peace with who we are; be "comfortable in our own skin," as some might say. Then we need to love and accept others. I think that is the big key here. Mother Teresa wasn't ever going to make the top 100 list of the Most Beautiful People in the World, yet she was beautiful. She was beautiful from the inside out. Beauty radiated from her being and people responded to that. People flocked to her because they saw her beauty--which sprang from her Love. Because she loved, she was beautiful.

I don't know if Mother Teresa had gray hair or not. But does anyone really care? I would rather have a dose of her beauty than a lifetime supply of hair coloring at the best salon in town.


Maureen said...

Amen Sister!

Anna Scott Graham said...

Oh I cannot agree more!!! Amen, amen, AMEN!!!

Lizzy said...

Ah, that's gorgeous, Gorgeous!

Julie D. said...

Amen! I always say that if I don't let my hair color change naturally then how will my daughters know what it looks like? ;-D

My only makeup is lipstick. Period.

Since my husband tells me that I am more beautiful now than ever, we can see it is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder ... but he's the beholder I care about impressing. So I'm good with that!

Raphaela said...

I am currently letting my gray grow out and the only support I have in my corner presently is my mother. (I'm not sure how well she can see my roots since she is shorter than I am!), but I'm glad to have some encouragement as I test the waters. My sister and friends say I should definitely not be doing this since I am too young (I will be 59 this month). If I really start looking like the old woman who lived in a shoe, I can always color it again-so I say Nothing ventured-Nothing gained!!

lweir said...

As one of the few women my age embracing my silver highlights, I think there is something to be said for being at peace with the age you are. My mom has a full head of gorgeous silver and white hair and is the envy of some of her hair-coloring friends. Why? Because there is a stunning beauty to a woman who embraces her age and invests as much time in her inward beauty as her outward. I hope to follow in her footsteps.