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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Old

Some things have been inexorably been pulling me towards this point in the conversation this week so I have to come right out and say them....
and at the risk of sounding narcissistic....

Well Meaning Friend: "I think it does make you look old though"

Tanya: "You say it makes me look old...like that is a bad thing"


I have been going grey since I was 16yrs old. I was once a rich auburn/chestnut with hair down to nearly my waist and thick as rope. At nearly 44, I am significantly grey, especially in the front half of my head.
It's not that unusual really. There are a lot of people with significant grey at my age but we're not used to seeing it because they diligently dye it.
I'm certainly not against dyed hair; in fact when I was 13 years old I used to sigh and dream of having white hair and having it blue rinsed and set every week like the old ladies did.
I have encountered a LOT of well meant suggestions that I dye my hair (and I have at times) because "I'm too young to be grey" or "it makes you look so old"
The later statement may very well be true but the problem I have with this statement is why it is said like that is a bad thing. It really places silent synonyms like; bad, unwanted, pitiable, unattractive with the word old.
Why in this culture do we denigrate old?
Why do we not celebrate it or at the very least accept it as our natural path.
Why is there this wrestle and reluctance towards this part of our life?
Is it because we have been bombarded with marketing and consumerism. Have these negative suggestions been subliminally planted in our culture by the billion dollar companies selling cosmetics and lifestyles.

This week I also read a stirring post in one of the blogs I follow, Easy Living The Hard Way. It's called "Is Ignorance Bliss" and discusses how little children and for that matter people, know very little about where their food comes from, which is a good read in itself, but half way down the post is another subject.
Holly was sent a (pretend) torn magazine ad in an envelope to her house, addressed to her and in such a way that this company makes it seem that a well meaning friend urges her to try this anti-ageing cream. It gave the blogger some pause for thought and me also dear reader. I hope you will read her post too.

There is that poisonous word,
anti-age

Kind of sums it up doesn't it.

I'm not buying it.

I work in a medical specialist field and I see people of all ages, and yes, sometimes it is a pain to be getting old. But the beautiful depth of these people and their knowledge and wisdom is a delight to me. It's something I aspire to.
Wrinkled skin is not ugly; it's soft and silky and I can see the smiles where the laughter has been.
Grey hair isn't dull or colourless; it's the perfect softening foil for an aging face and it brings out people's eyes. It has so many shades and nuances.
I refuse to tell generations (or for that matter anyone over the age of 40 it seems) that they are ugly, worthless and far from perfect beings. They are not to be mocked or pitied.
Do we pity the toddler who stumbles when they are learning to walk.
I'll keep my grey hair thank you.
In my perfect world cosmetic creams would be paraded for what they are; skin conditioners that do make it more comfortable and protection from sun and wind.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Trouble is, beholders have been tampered with by marketing think tanks. There are a couple of songs that come to mind like Bette Midler's "I'm Beautiful Damn It" and India Arie's "Video" and "I'm Not My Hair"
These are the songs we should be singing to our children.

12 comments:

  1. Some people go grey well before they are 30 and a lot of my family have.
    I have to admit I dye my hair but have a fair bit of grey...the last time I went to the hairdressers i asked about dyeing it a grey or putting grey foils but they wouldn't do it..lol
    I consider letting go grey completely every time I go to the hairdressers and I will one day soon :0)

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  2. What a timely post and I agree with you 100%. The word "old" also means "fear" to some too. There is nothing wrong with getting older and hairs turning gray. I love who I have grown older to be and hope I get even older lol. I feel seasoned,wiser, and satisfied with myself. And btw, you look great in your pic there.

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  3. Oh, this post made me cry, Tanya. For what it's worth, I think you are amazingly beautiful, wise and one of the most comfortable (with yourself) people that I have ever met and when I grow up I want to be like you! Love Amanda xx

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  4. Debbie I wanted them to dye my hair all grey too to make the asymilation more even too but I think its a difficult state to achieve over coloured bits. I have to learn patience.
    Thanks slipstitches and I love the adjectives you are using and I thank you very much.
    Miss Amanda! You commented! And YOU made me cry! Give Lui a special hug from me and I have shown EVERYONE his beautiful card he made for me x

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  5. I have been turning gray for a while now also. Unfortunately I have not gotten to that point yet where I am okay with it. Vain, I suppose. But I have noticed as the years have gone by that more time comes in between each coloring which I do myself at home. You are beautiful and from your pics couldn't even tell there was any gray.
    Blessings
    Diane

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  6. I am sending in my vote for grey hair!! Having our hair turn grey is a natural part of life and one I fully embrace. I find it odd to see folks my age (60) with no trace of grey in their hair. To age is a gift & yes I think grey hair is beautiful...always interesting to see the different shades. Also I think is softens our features nicely!

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  7. A great post! Being comfy in your own skin is such a reward! You look beaUtiful with silver locks. When I turned 50 .. I let my natural gray take over. Of course, I blogged about it during that time and all of my friends saw the transformation. Difficult as it was, I'm much happier happier having the gray. The other bonus is all of the money you can save!!

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  8. Here, Here! I've been thinking a lot about this lately. When did "old" =
    "bad"? It is only a bad thing if we allow mass media and peer pressure to convince us that it is. Yes, there are negatives about an aging body, from a functional perspective. But there are negatives at any age if we really start to prod - they can relate to self-confidence, knowledge (or lack thereof), inexperience, financial security, self-esteem etc etc. I refuse to believe that aging is something to be depressed about. I am embracing each year and celebrating my life experiences (good and bad). I am proud that I'm not living in some delusional world, pretending it won't happen to me. (PS. I gave up colouring my hair about a year ago and while I'm not yet grey, I don't think I'll be phased when I am). Thanks for writing this thought provoking post. xxx

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  9. I think your hair is beautiful!

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  10. you are gorgeous Tanya and such a timely post for me too. I went very grey at 29 with my first pregnancy and silly me thought it would go away when bub was born! wrong. and now in my mid 40s I have a lot of grey at the sides underneath and lots of grey sprinkled through. I always dyed my hair when I was younger blue black, bright red you name it,but for years now just trying to dye it its natural colour to cover the greys. So sick of that I went to the hairdresser and she advised blondish highlights to help blend in the grey I have done that a few times but STILL end up with a horrible regrowth which mixed with grey looks dreadful so I have put a stop to it completely. We just can't afford the luxury anyway. Soon I will get a very good cut to help blend in the regrowth, can't wait until it's all gone and I just have healthy hair! xx

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  11. Hi Tanya, I only found your blog this week. I love this post. I had chemo last year and my hair grew back grey - salt and pepper. I like it, and it is nice to read that not everyone thinks grey hair is a horror story in the making.

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