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A Gray Area

Transitioning Hair

This morning I went into a local grocery store on my way to work to get a salad for lunch. When I went through the checkout, the clerk asked me if I qualified for the senior discount. This store offers 10% percent off on Tuesdays to anyone 60 and over. That’s right, I said 60. Are you kidding me? I bit my tongue. Hard.ย  I looked her right in the eye and said, “No.” Then I said, “You asked me that last week.” Her response was the same as last week, “I never assume.” I don’t go into this store every day, but I just so happened to have been there last Tuesday, too. Lucky me. Last week, I was in a little better mood. I laughed it off and asked her if I really looked 60? She gave me the “never assume” response. I remember saying to her. “I know I have gray hair, but come on.” This probably would not bother me so much if she was one of the typical girls that work there, which are young, late teens, early 20s, but this woman is my age, give or take, and apparently works Tuesday mornings. The reason I had to bite my tongue so hard was because I was not in such a good frame of mind due to a couple realizations that came to me last night. I was in a mood. I am not a confrontational person at all, but oh my god, did I want to give it to this woman. I wanted to say, “Don’t you think you should assume in the other direction? You are not making any friends here, especially with someone who is clearly not 60! And shouldn’t you try to remember your customers since you asked me that last week? Are you a moron? Don’t you think that if I were old enough to get the discount, you would not have to ask? Wouldn’t I tell you to give it to me? After all, there is a bright yellow sign right here in front of my face next to the ATM machine that clearly states it is the 10% off day for anyone 60 and over! Give me my fucking salad. I don’t like you!”

I know the gray hair is a telltale sign of a certain age, but I love it and I know I don’t look 60. I will never go back to dying my hair. Not that it wasn’t a difficult decision that I wrestled with for a couple of years before I actually did it. We women are vain. We don’t want to grow old gracefully. At least I don’t. I am descending the ladder of aging kicking and screaming. Somewhat. I know that letting my hair go gray shows a certain degree of acceptance, but because of that, I try to remain youthful in other ways. I stay fit and try not to dress like my Mom. No offense to my Mom. She always looks very nice.

The decision to go gray was somewhat calculated for me. Prior to moving back up north, my hair stylist, Stacy, had been encouraging me to let my hair go gray for some time. We talked about it a lot when I went for my roots (every four weeks). She said that I would look great because I was youthful looking and that it would be striking. “No.” I kept saying. I love this girl. She knew she would be losing income if I stopped dying my hair, but she was honest with her opinion, regardless. And, oh the money I have not spent on not getting my hair dyed these past couple of years. What Stacy said was always in the back of my mind, especially when just one week after getting my hair colored, the shock of white would begin peeking through. I was so tired of it. So my calculated decision was when I decided to give modeling another shot. I thought gray hair would make me more marketable. I figured I could do medication commercials. You know, Cialis, maybe? And that was it for me. Off I went, in my mind, to reinvent myself. I know that sounds lame, but that’s what I did. I spent almost a year going gray and getting into better shape. The first few months were awful. I almost dyed my hair on many occasions. I didn’t want to look like a raccoon so I put this non-permanent rinse on, which turned the gray roots purple. It was hilarious. I remember one friend who I hadn’t seen for a while and hadn’t had a chance to tell her what I was doing said, “I like the purple.” It was a nightmare, but I persevered. Once I felt ready, I had a friend of my son’s take some photos of me (it had been years) just to see for myself if I had the gumption. I guess I did. Not because I love the business. I never really liked that world very much, but it is a good living and a means to an end. In my case that remains to be seen, though things are starting to move a bit for me. The jobs for someone my age aren’t as easy to come by as they were back in my youth. Still, getting signed to Ford came as a complete shock to me. I remember walking in and expecting it to be a courtesy visit. I certainly didn’t expect, “here is your contract, and by the way, we love your hair.”

So for me, this is what is fun about being gray. I think I am a mystery to some people. I have a good friend whose brother is in his 30s and I met him for the first time a year ago or so. He asked his sister, “So is Jodee young and prematurely gray, or is she older and still hot?” I loved that! I loved that he could not figure it out and I love her for sharing that with me. The other thing I like are the compliments from strangers. Not from men, because that almost never happens. The compliments come from women. I’m not sure of the reason. Perhaps that I had the guts to do it. Perhaps long, gray hair is just different from what you see out there. Whatever the reason, it always feels great to hear that from other women because there is always going to be that part of me that is not ready to be old and not ready to show it. I am not here to preach going gray. It was a personal decision and it isn’t for everyone. I suppose being questioned whether I was a 60-year old woman today made me feel like I wanted to write this. ๐Ÿ™‚

24 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jim Hirschhorn #

    My favorite line is…No offense to my mom, she always looks nice.

    As far as the clerk goes, I would reverse it next time you are in there by saying, “you look very tired today. You may want to see a doctor to check those bags under your eyes.”

    January 12, 2011
  2. Good one! I just might do that, Jim.

    January 12, 2011
  3. Lizbeth #

    Love the article.. made me laugh – made me want to let my hair go gray – Keep writing!! Thanks for the inspiration on many levels

    March 2, 2015
  4. Shelda Saunders #

    Love this article and the photo. I’m the same age as “Barbie” and am in the first three months of letting my hair go gray. I’ve been “dying” to do this for a few years but have not been encouraged by my stylist. The gray peeking out, the skunk line and the temptation to redye are all here but this is the first time I have read a positive thought about the journey. Thank you ever so much.

    August 22, 2015
    • Hang in there! I promise it will be worth it. Thanks so much for reading and for your note. ๐Ÿ™‚

      August 27, 2015
  5. margaritas palacio #

    Hi Jodee
    I think your hair is fabulous. My own experience with going natural have been similar to countless of other women who have made the very personal decision to stop coloring. I tried going dye-free a few years back, I got so much negative feedback both at work and at home. Sad to say I caved and colored. Anyway I found that I was unhappy with my decision and found myself getting resentful that other people had so much sway in my choices. About a year ago the company I worked for closed down, bummer for my pocketbook but the “silver” lining was the opportunity to try again. It has been about 7 months and I won’t lie the skunk stripe almost did me in but I stuck it out. My daughter and hubby were not initially thrilled but I persevered, I am about 70 percent gray and loving my hair. Even my family has come around and admitted it looks great. Anyway I now find that most women who question my age are my age but they still color and that’s their choice,however they may have unresolved feeling about this issue in their own life which makes them say what they do. Every lady has to make her own choice, they however are never allowed to question ours! Keep rocking that beautiful hair I know I will.

    October 2, 2015
    • Good for you! Thank you for sharing your story with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      October 21, 2015
  6. Cheri Harding #

    Thanks for the post. I related to it and found it helpful for me as I ponder letting my shoulder length hair go grey. Namaste

    October 21, 2015
    • I highly recommend it! Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog.

      October 21, 2015
  7. Ruth Brigham #

    I’m in my early 40’s and many people think I look younger. When I was in my 20’s my hair started to go gray and I wish I had let it go. Now after 20 years I think it’s time. It’s only been a couple of months and it’s not easy but I try to convince myself that I am saving my hair from total damage. My mother’s hair has been destroyed by years of coloring and I don’t want the same.

    October 22, 2015
    • Hang in there! You’ll be happy you did. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      October 23, 2015
  8. Leslie Carr #

    Hey, lighten up on being 60. It’s not an insult! It will happen before you know it, if you are as lucky as me.
    I’m going gray in honor of my sixtieth. People actually ask me if I’m my three year old grandson’s mom. Ridiculous ! I’m retired, out of the rat race, and pretty sure my husband isn’t going to like me any less if I’m gray. I’m just not going to do this anymore! Thanks for the laugh! Those cashiers just can’t win, they are damned if do ask and damned if they don’t.

    January 25, 2016
    • Thanks, Leslie. You’re right. Next month I will be closer to 60 than 50. I’m looking forward to the discount at this point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      April 12, 2016
  9. Katherina #

    Hello,
    I personally think going grey is a sign of wisdom, and strength. I am and have been working on accomplishing this myself, but it’s hard.
    My grey started at the fine age of 19,and have been progressing from there. When my hair is being colored, the coment is what color would you be?
    One hairdresser said it would be a natural white, still I am trying.
    My education was one of cosmology,and knowing what it does to the hair. And not to mention the chemicals in the product.
    So I am making a life changing journey, this is one of them.
    Awsome artical, thank you for the experience you shared; it takes boldness. keep it up!!!
    K. Christopher
    In Colorado:)

    February 13, 2016
  10. Jett #

    You are awesome! I am letting my natural color grow out as well. It is almost six months now and it ain’t easy!
    My thoughts are the very same, I am in great shape and feel very young. The only diff is that I will be 60 next year. No one ever believes me anyway. So, let the glorious grey/silver adorn my head ๐Ÿ™‚

    February 22, 2016
  11. Sandi #

    Your so lucky to have a hair stylist that encouraged you. Mine said, OH it will make you look 10 to 15yrs older. “Wow” Thanks for the support. I have a young face so I thought to myself. You just lost a long time client. Lol

    June 19, 2016
    • Thankfully most people are very supportive. And yes, I agree you should find a new stylist. Ten to fifteen years older?? No way!

      August 17, 2016
  12. Benita Deeley #

    Big decision, but I have no regrets. I turned 50 and decided I did not need to impress anyone anymore and stopped coloring. Sure there where times I was ready to color again but then I remembered I am doing this for me! No one else, just me.
    I am now 58 and still no regrets!

    July 4, 2016
    • Awesome, Benita! Thank you for your comment!

      August 17, 2016
  13. Donna Chastko #

    Thanks for an encouraging read. I am in the early stages of letting my hair go gray. I have a concentrated patch of gray at the very front where I part my hair, and was tired of colouring it every six weeks – not to mention the cost!! I’m 52, and thought it would be easier to transition now before the grey becomes even more prominent. It’s not fun, and I’ve almost caved a couple of times. But I’ve decided to embrace it and go natural – Let’s face it, I’m not fooling anyone anymore. I just hope I can stick it out long term. ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 25, 2016
  14. Ilze #

    Thank you!

    November 29, 2016
  15. Lulu #

    I am over 60 by a few years but people tell me I don’t look my age. I’ve been wanting to grow out my gray for about a year now but haven’t started because I know I won’t have the patience. Plus everyone keeps telling me that they don’t think I’m ready to be gray. How do I get thru this process without having to cut my hair.

    March 7, 2017
  16. Cheryl Carter #

    Your blog made me laugh, which is something I truelly appreciate. I have been “not coloring” for close to 10 months. Most days I am comfortable with it (won’t Love it until all the brown is gone) but other days I am very tempted to undo all the progress I have made thus far. The biggest thing that stops me is the thought of the maintenance. I do not want to be bound to the salon chair every 4 weeks. It’s too much!

    March 15, 2017
  17. Isabella #

    Jodee, you are beautiful and such an inspiration to me on taking this grey journey. I spent hours on Pinterest looking at women with gray hair and you’re one of the most beautiful I’ve seen! Love the way you write too ๐Ÿ™‚

    April 29, 2017

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