finding my way

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.

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2 thoughts on “finding my way”

  1. I read somewhere (bad librarian can’t remember where) that we don’t actually know what women’s changing hair color has looked like through history since convenient, popular, reliable hair coloring developed and became a ubiquitous fashion for women at about the same time color photography also became popular. So now we only have archives of B&W photos of women with naturally aging hair. We just don’t know what a whole society of women with naturally aging hair would look like.

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