Caving in

I’ve been trying to grow the dye out of my hair for a while now—say, about the last four months.  It’s been working pretty well, particularly considering I’ve been having my hair cut shorter and shorter with each trip to the salon.

But yesterday, my dear spouse looked at the top of my head, wrinkled his nose, and said, “The top of your head is getting pretty gray, honey. I think it’s time to color it again.”  I replied that I was trying to grow out the dye and he nodded and then repeated, “It’s getting pretty gray.”

Women in my family tend to go gray early.  I found my first gray hair at 23.  My mom was totally silver by 55. Both of my grandmothers, too.  So I’m doomed to have a full head of gray hair at a relatively young age; I get that.  And I am, to a certain extent OK with that. Philosophically.

But in practice, I don’t really like the gray. It stands out against my (pretty mousy) medium brown hair, it’s coarse, it doesn’t style well, and worst of all, it ages me.

And I think it’s that last one that bothers me the most. I tend to look much younger than I am—and thank you, Mom, for beautiful skin and some early lessons in how to care for it—so the gray really does stand out as a visible sign of my age. It’s not just a vanity thing, either—I don’t mind getting older and I certainly don’t pine for my youth.

No, more than vanity, I worry about its effect on my career. I’m an attorney, and a relatively newly minted one.  But I didn’t go straight to law school after college—I spent six years doing other things, six years I never regret. That means, though, that I am competing on the job market with 25 and 26 year olds.  My resume already marks me as older; the gray, though, I think, really makes that concrete. Jobs are scarce enough as it is and I don’t need potential employers downgrading me because of my age.

Still, though, I thought I’d try to grow it out. No one at my current job cares how I look—I don’t meet with clients and I rarely have to be in court. This seemed like the perfect time to let the dye grow out and see just how gray I’d gotten and then decide what to do with it.  Maybe I’d love it! Maybe it would look good. Maybe I’d be happier just being myself—mousy salt-and-pepper instead of from-a-box-red. I was trying to put my philosophy about my hair into practice.

But after hearing yesterday that it was looking pretty bad, I started to get concerned. I am in heavy job-search mode right now and I’m hoping I’ll have some interviews in the next month.

So I bit the bullet and bought another box of color. I did go with a semi-permanent dye, so hopefully it will grow out more softly than the stuff I’ve used in the past. And while it grows out, I’ll continue to muse on how exactly I feel about dying my hair—whether it’s necessary or just expedient—and hope I can stop dying it soon.

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