50 SHADES OF GRAY


miss clairolToday when women go from brown to blond to red to black and back again without blinking we think of hair color products as we think of lipsticks. There are bottles and bottles of hair color product with names like Excellence and Preference and Loving Care and Nice and Easy and so on, each in dozens of different shades. There is even Chocolate/Cherry and Champagne Cocktail, colors that ask “Does She or Doesn’t She? but blithely assume “Yes, she does.” Slogans like these were instantly memorable and managed to take on meanings well outside their stated intentions.

My own history with the hair color industry is memorable, having been a victim of my own foolhardiness more than once. Pick a color, any color, and I have given it a short-term lease on my head. I became a Ginger Rogers blond at the age of 16, which then became a strange shade of green at the end of the summer swim season. On another occasion I dyed it black for a Hawaiian party, which had to be removed swiftly before I spoke before a rather dull women’s group. It became a mottled thatch emanating from my scalp, with varying spots of brown, red and a terrifying streak of purple somewhere above my eyebrows.

After my residence with the Pueblo and the bestowal of my honorary name, I colored it a lovely believable dark brown, suitable for my new adopted identity. It remained this color for many years until I nearly believed it was my own. I could wander among the various villages in New Mexico while painting, and not be exposed as “that Anglo blond woman”. Many years later, I let it grow out, at which time I cut it short and asked my good friend what color she would call my hair. She too-promptly replied “Mouse”! So it was back to the bottle. Along with Miss Clairol, I gave myself a home permanent which unfortunately fought with the color and became a bright red Brillo pad on perched on top of my head.

**********************************************

It was bound to happen—the day arrives when you find your first gray hair, a reminder that Time is marching on. But silver or gray is trending now in clothing, fashion accessories and home d├ęcor. We have all heard that men with gray hair are distinguished looking, while it just makes women look 10 years older. However, a few lucky women can pull off a certain amount of elegance. It’s a dilemma for sure. Do you grab the old familiar bottle, or do you try a new color—gray? It’s the only one I had not tried so I decided to give it a go. A number of years ago, somewhat elderly women became blue, do you remember them? They were generally seen with locks the color of a drop-in toilet freshener, and no, it wasn’t a mistake. They did it on purpose—it took any vestiges of blond out.

Streaks of gray usually appear near the ears, giving the impression of “Frankenstein’s Bride”. I once worked for a man who used dark shoe polish to color his ‘side wings.’ I seem to have accomplished the ‘gray mission’ on my own, without the aid of dye or bleach. A grandson once asked me if it was blond or grey. I told him to take his pick.
It still looks blond to me when looking in a mirror, but for some reason, it photographs gray. It must be a trick of the camera.

The thing to remember is that age is just a number, and hair color does not dictate whether you lead a sedate lifestyle, or behave like a character in “50 Shades of Grey.” The choice is yours.