A few years ago, I was relaxing in the bleachers at a rodeo, while a
weirdo friend braided my hair. “You’re going roan! I like it.” Roan, the sprinkle of white hairs, is such desirable coat pattern in horses. Women. . .I’m not so sure. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout!” scream the glossy magazines and media. Their not-so subtle subtext: aging is shameful and grey hair is is to be covered. Though everybody loves a roan, I began dying my hair shortly after the bleacher observation. For frugality’s sake, I’ve declined to dye my hair for over a year, but my occasional discomfort with my current appearance has me questioning my cheap little heart. To dye or not to dye? Perhaps, I should just avoid mirrors and surround myself with other roans.
I was 17-years-old, when I spotted my first grey hair. “Oh no, I’m becoming my mother!” Horrified, I quickly plucked it from my head. My mother wore her hair confidently in it’s natural salt-and-pepper state. My self-conscious, teenage insecurity took her appearance as a personal affront. “Why would she choose to look so OLD?” whispered the little voice in the back of my head. Apart from my mother, not many women were openly embracing the changes fueled by stress, genetics, and time. Aside from Mom’s personal, spiritual inspiration country singer Emmylou Harris, I was not aware of public figures embracing natural greying.
Fast forward a few years, I am nearly the age my mother was when my teenage-self believed her ancient. As, my own dark hair is rapidly becoming sprinkled with grey, I admire my mother’s choice more. Despite the mature appearance of the likeness in the mirror, I feel only slightly more adult than that girl who plucked that first alien hair so many years ago. I’ve been under the mistaken impression that life would make more sense, as my appearance became more “dignified.” How do you know when you are adult enough? Grey hair clearly isn’t the answer I’ve been looking for. I can’t seem to find an “adultier” adult to soothe my anxiety.
Wiry greys sprout from my head like tiny alien antennas, defying the straight brown hair I’ve identified with for so long. I used to scoff at women whose hairstyles never changed, snorting to myself, “My hair is not my identity, who I am is bigger than my appearance.” Yet my own hair turns, and I am struggling with leaning into the discomfort of my changing appearance. One thing is certain, I’d much rather surround myself with roan ponies, than have a roan ponytail.