THE NATURAL LOOK
"It's nice to just embrace the natural beauty within you." Victoria Justice
I have a middle-aged friend who is struggling with the fact that over the course of several weeks of corona virus lockdown, her "true colors" are showing up and taking over. The truth is that since her late teenage years, she's been turning silver, but she's covered it up with twice-monthly visits to the beauty parlor.
Now that she's already got several inches of gray coming through, she's decided to come to terms with her real age and wear her "grown-up hair." But she doesn't want to go around for weeks with two-toned hair as her natural color grows out. Fortunately, her hairdresser is helping her manage the transition with some excellent interim coloration.
She does worry, however, that as a "newly-older" person, some opportunities will no longer be open to her. But she feels that being more authentic about who she really is has become increasingly important. And she knows that those who truly love her won't stop loving her because of the color of her hair.
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Here's a fun and light-hearted look at this issue, the terrible quandary that's confronting many of us as we emerge from long weeks of isolation. (My apologies to Cyndi Lauper.)
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Carly, the woman who cuts my hair, is in her early 40s and has striking silver hair. Since she works in a full-service salon, I long assumed that she colored it. One day I asked her who did her hair.
"No one," she answered. "I went completely gray very early and this has been my natural color since my teens and 20s. For a very long time I dyed it because I thought I was way too young to have gray hair. It was a pain trying to control my roots, but I gave in to vanity for years and years, trying to aspire to what I imagined others' definition of beauty was.
"But one day, I just said 'enough' and let it go gray. It took many weeks of having two-toned hair, then short hair after I chopped off the previously dyed part, but it finally got there. Since then I've come to love the real me. And it sure has eliminated a lot of extra work in my life."
Now, many who see her eye-catching hair believe it is one of her finest features. But she says that the internal transformation that took place for her when she decided to be true to her authentic self was far more significant than her change in hair color. To me, the resulting glow and confidence in her eyes and her countenance are at least as stunning as her hair.
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So why are so many of us so critical of our natural look? Why do we run away or try to hide from our real selves? Is it vanity? Are we concerned about being judged for what we or others might consider physical blemishes? Looking different can affect our self-esteem. Is it fear of ageism? Without a doubt there is serious discrimination against older people, especially in the job market.
But hopefully, all this extra time we've had for self-reflection during the coronavirus shutdown has helped us recognize that who we really are, both inside and out, is enough. No doubt the transition can be difficult, but being ourselves is what really counts.
Critics will still be critics, but we ourselves should not be among that number. Those whose opinions truly matter will love us anyway. They will admire us not for the quality of our dye job (once we finally get back to our stylist) but for our courage, our authenticity, and our power to focus on matters more significant than external appearances.
I say, be yourself, knowing that the real you is more than enough.