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Aging Graysfully

I am a proud owner of gray hair. Lots of them. I've never desired to color my hair. The thought of chemicals that close to my brain makes my head hurt. Yes I know shampoo and conditioner have chemicals too and the junk we eat inevitably shows up in our skin and hair. Let's just say that I am willing to forgo coloring my hair but not my trysts with french fries.

Much as we desire for our grays to love us, they undoubtedly and positively hate us. There is no other reason for them to grow perpendicular to our head. I am perpetually trying to pluck the ruthless ones that insist on standing up as though I touched a 240V live wire.

True to the garden variety hypochondriac I am, I googled gray hair trying to convince myself that premature graying is due to a correctable deficiency of some kind - perhaps a vitamin is too low or iron is off. Quickly, I discovered that cardiac conditions can cause graying. The desire to google ceased immediately.

Our hair follicles have cells that make melanin. This is what gives hair its natural color . With age, these cells die, leaving us with various shades of uncolored or slightly colored hair. We like to think that anxiety does us in but it is more likely that our genes play greater havoc. Much has been written about gray hair reflecting wisdom but I am not at all sure that I am that wise. Instead, I take solace in these words.

As I am aging, I am reaching into reserves I didn't know I had in order to restore my confidence during momentary lapses. Post-wash, after I've tamed the obnoxious beasts, I remind myself that my grays definitely do not define me in a negative way. Yet, common convention is that gentlemen with gray are distinguished while women are "dowdy" (not my words, so says the internet).

Dowdy? Not me. Perhaps because the color of my hair has zero impact on the level of fun that Tarun, I, and our children have on a daily basis.

When I step out, I have no doubt that there are some who wonder if I am plain lazy, cheap, or dowdy. Far from it, this choice I've made requires a heck of a lot of work and isn't inexpensive either. The old supplies no longer work. After trial and error, I've settled on alternative and safe products that keep the miscreants in check. All of this took hours of research and some very bad hair days.

So, next time you see a woman aging graysfully, admire her for her tenacity and effort. Commend her for...well...wrapping her head around this inevitable fact of life.

And if you need inspiration, think Emmylou Harris, Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Annie Lennox and other protagonists who are blazing the trail for the rest of us.

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