I started coloring my hair recently. Something I vowed I would never do. When I was younger, I used to color my mom’s hair, and I hated it. I hated how much time it took. I hated that she felt like she had to do this to fit in to the beauty norms of our own Indian community, and society at-large. I vowed I would never color my hair.
I love my grey streaks. I have not been one to align with mainstream beauty standards, so I felt okay with the aging process. My mother’s hair is so beautiful in its natural color, and I really wanted to transition in my aging journey without having to do the same things she did.
I began to feel self conscious because many people began to ask me if my daughter was my granddaughter. I found myself in spaces with my own peers, in a sea of flawless hair, all dipped in the fountain of never-ending youth. I felt it everywhere- picking up my daughter from school, dance class, the grocery store, the pool, with my family, with my friends… I felt that it might be embarrassing for my daughter to be around me.
So I did it. About a year ago, after I turned 40, I started coloring my hair- but I wanted to have my grey still visible- just not SO visible.
Yesterday in the car, out of the blue, Saaya said, “Mamma- I don’t like that you started coloring your hair. You should be proud of who you are.”
I was surprised. I asked her if she was embarrassed that I looked older than all of the other mothers… I shared with her why I started coloring my hair… and she listened. She paused for a moment, and then said, “I am disappointed you started coloring your hair, because since you started doing that, when I look into a crowd to find you it is harder for me to find you. Before, I could see your grey streaks, and know exactly where you are. Your natural hair always helped me find my way.”
I haven’t been able to sleep- her words keep going through my mind. I consider myself to be committed to my own journey of self-awareness, and yet in one sentence, my daughter opened up spaces in my heart that need exploration, contemplation and healing. I don’t necessarily know what I will do with my hair, but I do know that I, too, need to find my way.