Friday, October 10, 2014


If you are a hard-core fan of hair color, transitioning to your natural gray is a frightening change.  It will challenge you in ways you might not anticipate.  I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that letting go of your hair color can be compared to drug/alcohol detoxing.  You may think I am being overly dramatic but hair coloring addiction is a real thing.

Think about it.  Substance abuse of any kind usually begins when a person is seeking to hide or escape from something they don't want to deal with and most women begin coloring their hair as a way to hide gray hair and avoid the fact that they are growing older.  Fear, shame and denial, all factors in substance abuse, are also factors in the choice to color one's gray hair.  

And let's really talk about the fear, shame and denial.  They are the bread and butter of the beauty industry.  Fear, shame or denial are the underlying message in every single beauty advertisement out there.  

The media is very adept with the smoke and mirrors, however.  They have somehow managed to fool us into believing that they are really pedaling self-esteem and empowerment.  But, if you tunnel down to the subliminal message, fear, shame or denial are the motivating factors behind all "anti-aging" beauty procedures.

See a couple of wrinkles?  Oh no! You're losing your youth! (Fear) Get your old self back by paralyzing your face with a little pig toxin. ( Packaged as self-esteem) 

Put on a few pounds?  Goodness me!  How will you ever face the old gang at your high school reunion?  (Shame)  Get your old figure back and make them all envious by letting us insert a magic vacuum tube under your flesh to suck out that ugly fat! (Self-esteem with a sprinkle of empowerment)

Got some gray hair?  Whaaat? You're too young! (Denial)  Don't let those ugly grays make you look like an old crone!  Just slather your scalp with a tsunami of toxic chemicals every couple weeks and show your hair who's boss! (Empowerment)

I call it "Being Wolowitzed" or giving the negative compliment.  They tear us down a bit, make us feel insecure with the way we are (the total opposite of self-esteem and empowerment, btw), then go in for the kill with their magic solution, whatever that may be.  

So my question is this.  Do we really want to be controlled like that? I know I don't.  My solution?  I think we need an intervention.  

Now, I've never done an intervention before so I had to look it up and apparently, there are five essential steps.  We'll will go through them all one by one. 

This intervention will focus specifically on hair coloring but the general principles can be applied to the entire scope of beauty treatments. 

Step One: Open with affection  
Truthfully, I have struggled with this post.  My fear is that I will somehow come across uppity and superior.  That by trying to age as authentically as possible, I see myself as more evolved or in some way better than other women.  

Believe me, that could not be further from the truth!  I struggle with my own insecurities just as much as any woman.  Don't even get me started on the horror that is chin hair!  I have a pact with my best friend that if I ever become immobilized, she will come to my bedside and pluck mine!  

My only purpose for this entire blog, is to try to help women feel comfortable in their own skin, what ever their age may be but especially as they hit middle age.  I hope that comes across.  

Step Two: Describe behaviors
I think this was pretty well covered under fear, shame and denial but there is one more I want to add to the list, deception.  

Maybe it seems a little harsh to list hair coloring and other beauty procedures as lying.  Perhaps a better words would be "falseness" or "inauthenticity".  The idea that what you see is not really what you get, that we are faking it and somehow it's okay for us to do so.   I have to wonder how honest we can be in other areas of our character when we alter our appearance with such ease.

That bothers me, especially as woman of faith.  One of the basic tenets of Christianity is honesty. 

Step Three: Detail problems
Well, for one thing it's costing us a fortune!  Do you know that the average professionally done dye job costs between $50 and $200 buck-a-roonies.  Typically hair color is applied every four to six weeks.  If she is gray and wants to keep her roots immaculate, the average woman needs a root touch up about every two weeks.  These can cost between $25 and $100 big ones.  That's an average of $1300 to $5200 per year and that's just for hair color!  It doesn't include costs for Botox, plastic surgery, breast enhancements, waxes, facials, peels, serums, make-up, etc, etc, etc.  Add all that up, put that amount into an interest bearing account instead, and you could probably put your kids through Harvard.  

Another concern is the waste of time.  Think of the hundreds of hours that could be spent with family, learning a new skill or serving other people that are instead spent sitting in a salon or recovering from surgeries.  Now I'm all for taking a little time to pamper myself.  I do love a good manny/peddy or therapeutic massage but again, as a woman of faith, I have to ask myself if God will justify spending hours and hours of time on beauty treatments or if he might think there are better ways to spend that time.  

Lastly, what is all this doing to our daughters?  One thing I noticed on the link above, is how young the girls were when they first dyed their hair: eleven, twelve and thirteen.  Thanks to our example, young girls are now thinking that the way to confidence and self-esteem can be found through altering their appearance.  I have acquaintances who wonder why their beautiful daughters are constantly worried they are fat and ugly, yet these same women are constantly fretting about their own weight and appearance. It's not just the media who does a number on our young women.  

Step Four: Outline treatment options  
Transitioning your hair to natural doesn't have to be an ugly, messy  grow-out process and your hairdresser can be a great resource.  They have ways to make the process much less obvious, so you don't have to have months of "skunk-roots".  

Of course, the fastest, easiest route is the one I took.  Just get a sassy, short cut for a while.  With my hair short, it only took me three cuts until all the highlights were gone.  

If your hairstylist disapproves, I say without hesitation, dump him/her! They might be discouraging you because they don't want to loose the income or they might have a prejudice against gray hair.  Whatever the reason, you need a stylist who is on your side and will be there to support you.  You need someone who will ease you through the process as painlessly as possible and the last thing you will need is some nay-sayer who will make you doubt yourself.  

Step Five: Express love and support
Any type of rehab will force a person to face head on whatever it is they have been running from.  Like quitting a drug, quitting hair color will bring buried fears and age related anxieties to the surface. 

To be successful in the longterm, you will have to reprogram your thoughts and habits and even distance yourself from negative friends who are uncomfortable with the changes you are making (this includes a discouraging stylist.)

But, I can tell you from my own experience facing those fears has made a world of difference for me and I know it will for you too.  Of course, I don't know if I'll ever embrace chin hair.  I just don't see that happening.  

 And on that note, I'll end with a quote:

Finding that comfortable line...between indulging...vanity and maintaining...authenticity, is not a matter of embracing some all or nothing black-and-white doctrine.
We don't have to decide between being unshaven, unstyled, and all natural or being dyed, Brazilian-waxed, Botoxed, Restylaned, and surgically enhanced.  We each have to find our own comfortable place.   
                              Going Gray-How To Embrace Your Authentic Self With Grace And Style, Anne Kreamer, pg. 156
Your comfortable place may be different from mine, but I hope that this intervention has helped you in some way.  I'm just trying to be a voice of encouragement; your one woman, on-line support group.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

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