I got another compliment on my gray hair today. I say another because I get A LOT of compliments on my hair. I have had both women and men, cross a crowded room or busy street to tell me they love my hair. I had one woman actually reach out and run her fingers through it while telling me it looked like mink. I admit, it was a little disconcerting as those passing by turned to stare, but I know she meant well.
Todays compliment came from a young cashier at Walmart who asked me who highlighted my hair. I smiled as I said, "God." She laughed and said, "That's so cool. That's what I'm going to do when I'm older."
I don't mention this to be stuck up. I mention it because it's fascinating to me. When I made the decision to go gray, I wondered how it would be received. Would I look frumpy? Would I be perceived as "old"? Eight years later, I'm still fascinated and delighted at the strong, positive reactions I hear.
I came from a family that grays early. In fact, I got my first gray hair before my 23rd birthday. An exaggeration, you say? Not possible? Believe me, it's true. A girl does not forget a thing like that. It's one of those memories that burns into your brain, like where you were during 9/11 or when you found out about the Kennedy assassination.
Anyway, when I saw that gray hair, I made the universal choice of reaching for the dye bottle. I never even gave it a second thought. I spent the next 23 years dousing my hair with some form of artificial color. The funny thing is, in all the years I colored my hair I never had a man cross the room specifically to tell me they like my hair color, yet it has happened multiple times since I have gone gray.
I also get a substantial amount of compliments from young girls, specifically in their teens and twenties. We've had conversations that have opened my eyes to how desperate girls are for positive female role models. Women of substance who are comfortable and happy with themselves.
This has brought me to a couple of conclusions that I want to address in more depth later.
First, it is the women in the world who define the current opinion of beauty. It is the women who have decided that beauty is defined by fake hair, swollen lips and implants. We all blame the men and the media, but I believe that if women, as a whole, passionately rejected today's artificial definition of beauty and began to confidently own their own natural beauty, we would see a massive redefinition of beauty standards.
Second, confidence is the true fountain of youth. It is also a magnet that people are irresistibly drawn to. I'm not talking about the arrogance or conceit that passes for confidence today. I am talking about feeling comfortable in your skin.
Now, I am not espousing that we all throw out our make-up, razors and blow-dryers. I am not that radical. But I am suggesting that you trust how naturally beautiful you are and find one artificial thing that you do and stop. Just let it go. Who knows, it may end up defining you the way my hair has helped me define myself. Eight years later, my hair a signature part of my style.
What will yours be??